Inside the paths Lamar Jackson’s contract situation could take with the Ravens


OWINGS MILLS, Md. — On his first day again with the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday, quarterback Lamar Jackson rolled to his proper and flicked a 30-yard cross downfield to tight finish Mark Andrews whereas on the run.

Jackson is a one-of-a-kind playmaker, and his contract scenario is unprecedented. He is likely one of the few NFL gamers with out agent illustration, and he has but to have interaction in negotiations on a multi-year extension regardless of the Ravens wanting to take action, in response to staff officers. Jackson’s contract expires in March.

Although Jackson’s presence this week was anticipated at obligatory minicamp this week, what stays unsure is his timeline for negotiating and signing what can be one of many league’s largest contracts.

Since Jackson was eligible for an extension 15 months in the past, the very best common per-year deal for a quarterback has jumped from $45 million (Patrick Mahomes) to $50 million (Aaron Rodgers). The very best complete assured cash has skyrocketed from $141.4 million (Mahomes) to $230 million (Deshaun Watson).

“He’s a novel cat, and what are you going to do with a man who needs to be distinctive?” Ravens proprietor Steve Bisciotti stated on the NFL league conferences in March. “You do not browbeat him into being a conformist.

“We’re taking him as we take him. We recognize him. All I do know is that his teammates freaking love him, and the entrance workplace loves him. It is like, ‘You simply preserve doing you Lamar, and we’ll make it work one way or the other.'”

There are a number of choices for the way this high-profile and weird contract scenario can play out, however the one frequent denominator is whichever path this narrative takes, the tip end result could have main ramifications.

The Ravens signal Jackson to a brand new deal earlier than his contract expires

There’s not quite a lot of optimism Baltimore and Jackson can comply with an extension earlier than the season. However there’s hope, a supply stated, the perimeters can discuss this week as a result of Jackson is contained in the Ravens facility for the primary time this offseason.

Of the 20 quarterbacks drafted within the first spherical between 2011 and 2017, three signed extensions earlier than the beginning of their fifth seasons: Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Blake Bortles. Then-Panthers GM Dave Gettleman stated the take care of Newton took 11 days to barter, which exhibits that offers can come collectively rapidly.

If historical past is any indication, the time to observe for a brand new deal is after the season. In 2013, Baltimore made quarterback Joe Flacco the highest-paid participant within the NFL (six years, $120.6 million) three days earlier than the deadline to make use of the franchise tag. The window for the tag can create urgency for each side. The Ravens could not wish to pay the steep one-year worth for the unique franchise tag (projected to effectively exceed $30 million in 2023), and Jackson could not wish to danger harm affecting his worth by enjoying on what would primarily be one-year offers in 2023 and 2024 beneath the tag.

Baltimore places franchise tag on Jackson, indicators him to a long-term deal

If the perimeters can’t signal an extension by March 7, the Ravens must use the franchise tag to maintain Jackson off the free-agent market.

It’s uncommon for the Ravens to make use of the tag. Baltimore has executed it twice within the earlier decade. It’s nearly as uncommon to see NFL groups use the tag on quarterbacks. Within the earlier 10 offseasons, there have been 5 situations when a quarterback was given the tag: Drew Brees (2012), Kirk Cousins (2016 and 2017) and Dak Prescott (2020 and 2021). Brees and Prescott ultimately signed long-term offers whereas Cousins hit the free-agent market and signed a landmark take care of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Ravens have a powerful observe document of signing gamers after making use of the tag. Of the seven gamers tagged of their historical past, the Ravens reached long-term offers with 5 (cornerback Chris McAlister, linebacker Terrell Suggs, defensive deal with Haloti Ngata, working again Ray Rice and kicker Justin Tucker). Solely offensive lineman Wally Williams and out of doors linebacker Matthew Judon signed elsewhere after receiving the franchise tag.

Jackson hits free company in 2025 after enjoying beneath the franchise tag for 2 years

That is the Cousins mannequin. He performed beneath the franchise tag for 2 seasons with Washington earlier than turning into essentially the most coveted free agent in years in 2018. Cousins signed a totally assured three-year, $84 million contract, which made him the NFL’s highest paid quarterback on the time.

When Cousins hit free company, he had totaled 26 wins in six seasons and made one Professional Bowl. Now, think about the marketplace for Jackson, who has gained 37 video games in 4 seasons and was a unanimous NFL MVP.

This massive payday route would include of venture. A devastating harm would seemingly damage Jackson’s worth, particularly being a quarterback who depends as a lot on his mobility as his arm. Since he grew to become the Ravens beginning quarterback halfway by the 2018 season, Jackson has been hit 709 instances — 99 greater than every other quarterback throughout that span. Jackson had confirmed sturdy till the tip of final season, when he was sidelined the final 4 video games with a proper ankle harm.

Bisciotti believes the market worth for quarterbacks in 2025 can be $60 million per season. Jackson, although, pushed again this offseason in opposition to hypothesis he has his sights set on free company in 2025 and is contemplating leaving the franchise.

In March, Jackson tweeted: “I really like my Ravens. I don’t know who the hell [is] placing that false narrative out that I’m having ideas about leaving. Cease attempting [to] learn my thoughts.”

The Ravens commerce Jackson

Let’s be clear: This isn’t an possibility the staff has even hinted about. Ravens officers have repeatedly talked about how Jackson is their quarterback for the long run.

However there could be a call to make if Baltimore places the franchise tag on Jackson subsequent 12 months, which might begin the two-year clock earlier than he reaches free company. It’s troublesome to consider the Ravens would watch Jackson signal elsewhere in 2025 and be content material with getting a third-round compensatory choose in return. The Denver Broncos traded two first-round picks and two second-rounders to the Seattle Seahawks in March to amass 33-year-old Russell Wilson, so it’s sensible to assume Baltimore might get no less than three first-round alternatives for Jackson, who’s 25.

However buying and selling Jackson shouldn’t be on the radar, and staff officers have been clear on that subject.

“He is a man that after we take into consideration the Ravens three, 4, 5 years from now, we envision Lamar being a really, very massive a part of that staff,” DeCosta stated on the NFL mix in March, “and undoubtedly a participant that may assist us win Tremendous Bowls.”

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