Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has no agent. Lamar Jackson is negotiating his next contract on his own. The latest update on the situation, frankly, reads like a jointly-issued press release by team and player.
Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that Lamar “is immersed in his quarterbacking job, a primary reason that he and the Ravens haven’t yet agreed to an extension.” Schefter adds that “[n]egotiations have taken a back seat throughout training camp and into the season, according to sources, but both sides expect to complete a deal.”
It sounds good, but it’s not. If Jackson’s focus on football has kept him from focusing on his contract, then he should have an agent. As he starts his fourth NFL season, it’s critical that he push the injury risk to the team by getting long-term security. Given his playing style, it’s even more important for him than it is for other quarterbacks.
What if he suffers an injury tonight? What if it’s a major injury? The notion that player and team have decided to put a pin in the conversations helps the team. Not the player.
Let’s play this out to its logical conclusion. If Jackson was too focused on football from the start of training camp until the start of the regular season, why would he suddenly not be immersed in football with the games that count starting? The bye comes in Week Eight; maybe they can get the deal done then.
Until the bye, Jackson has seven games. And he has seen season-ending injuries already happen to running back J.K. Dobbins, running back Gus Edwards, running back Justice Hill, and cornerback Marcus Peters.
Without an agent, Jackson will get 100 percent of whatever he negotiates for himself. Beginning tonight, that 100 percent will be 100 percent in jeopardy.
Maybe that still would have happened if he had an agent. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield has entered his fourth year without a new deal. However, there’s a very real difference between Mayfield and Jackson. The Browns aren’t fully sold on Mayfield, yet. The Ravens, however, are all-in on Jackson.
If Jackson tears an ACL or ruptures an Achilles or otherwise suffers a serious injury before he can prioritize his contract, he’ll suddenly have plenty of time to negotiate his deal. At that point, however, the Ravens likely will be immersed in waiting for him to get healthy again before making a long-term financial commitment.