All offseason the belief was the Baltimore Ravens and star quarterback Lamar Jackson would agree on a new deal. After months of meetings, posturing and self-imposed deadlines, the two sides didn’t come to reach an agreement.
Meaning Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner and 2019 unanimous NFL MVP, will play out the fifth and final season of his rookie deal without a long-term lucrative extension in tow. Friday’s deadline for a deal was self-imposed by Jackson himself in August, as he said he wouldn’t carry contract negotiations into the season.
GM Eric DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh, along with Jackson, were all hoping the two sides could come to a mutual agreement. But that was not the case, and Jackson ostensibly will take the field this Sunday and every week of the 2022 season without that security that all NFL players crave. And the elite players should have.
Lamar Jackson decided to turn down the Ravens’ offer and bet on himself. He now will make $23 million this season and is expected to be franchise tagged after this season. pic.twitter.com/lAuxYCmnbQ
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 9, 2022
Following the news on Friday, DeCosta spoke with the media.
“Despite our best efforts on both sides, we were unable to reach a contract extension with Lamar Jackson. We greatly appreciate how he has handled this process and we are excited about our team with Lamar leading the way. We will continue to work towards a long-term contract after the season, but for now we are looking forward to a successful 2022 campaign.”
Jackson represents himself and has made it clear that Sept. 9 would be the cutoff date to get a deal done. He apparently meant it, and on Wednesday he once again reiterated that was the case.
A new ERA 4real! Get ready to see what it’s like to be QB1 with NFL PRO ERA, the first NFL VR game!
— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) September 1, 2022
Harbaugh Shares GM’s Sentiments: This Could End Ugly
Head coach John Harbaugh shared those same sentiments about his star player, who’s also someone he’s built a strong bond with.
“I’m confident that’ll happen when it’s time. Lamar is going to be playing quarterback here for a long time. He and I talked about it yesterday like, ‘Hey, man, let’s go be our best and go focus on football.’ And that’s what he’s been doing all along. So I know nothing will change with that, and we’re just focused on Sunday.”
While what Harbaugh is saying sounds good, the temperature could change in a blink of an eye. Who’s to say that Jackson will want to do business with the Ravens once the season ends. They’d have to franchise him, which would carry a price tag of $45 million for the 2023 season. But the real issue could be other teams looking for a young former MVP as their next quarterback. Baltimore would probably get some very enticing offers. Some teams would be willing to give up two first-round picks to snag him away from the Ravens.
Ravens QB Lamar Jackson will make $23.016 million on his fifth-year option. After the season, the Ravens could …
• Put the non-exclusive tag on him (that # would $29.7M right now).
• Put the exclusive tag on him (that # would be $45.5M right now).
• Sign him long-term.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 9, 2022
Baltimore is betting on things ending as they did with former quarterback Joe Flacco, who bet on himself and won the Super Bowl and MVP in his final season. However, his success also set the stage for a monstrous $120 million payday that hamstrung the franchise.
Dolphins Would Pounce If Jackson Became Available
The Dolphins are fully committed to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa right now, but word has it Tua isn’t the ideal choice for new head coach Mike McDaniel. Jackson, however, would be. McDaniel is from the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree. Shanahan, the head coach of the 49ers, is known for his offensive innovativeness. With Jackson at the helm, McDaniel would be able to really open up the playbook.
The Niners chose Trey Lance over Mac Jones in the 2021 NFL raft because of mobility and arm talent on the move. Few QBs are better than Jackson at that right now.
Jackson Is A Miami Native
The Ravens are playing with fire, and maybe Jackson did want a fully guaranteed deal. The actual numbers are still murky, and both Jackson and the Ravens have done a great job of not leaking any figures. It’s added to the mystery and the social media interest and the talking heads speculation, because nobody really knows what the heck is going on and who’s to blame. But when Jackson sees guys like Deshaun Watson and Kyler Murray getting huge clumps of guaranteed cash you can understand why Jackson is requesting that much or more.
A 38-12 career record speaks volumes, and for a team to be 8-3 before you get injured and then lose the final six games of the season shows his value. This season will be a huge risk for both Jackson and the Ravens. Somebody is dropping the ball.
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