Lamar Jackson’s failure to engage Ravens points to awkward outcome, for everyone

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Last year, the Ravens were reticent when it came to discussing the failure of quarterback Lamar Jackson to engage the team in contract negotiations. (As of Week One last year, it was suggested that he’s too “immersed” in football to negotiate. Which was all the more reason to hire someone else to negotiate the deal. Especially with the Ravens losing one player after another to torn ACLs during the most recent training camp and preseason.)

This year, the Ravens already have opted for measured candor when it comes to pointing out that they’re ready, willing, and able to work something out. Jackson, who clearly isn’t too focused on football in early March to negotiate, still hasn’t engaged them.

Jackson’s approach is either strategic or misguided. Last year, the situation became simplified after the Bills signed Josh Allen to a long-term deal that pays out $43 million per year. Based on the terms and structure of the Allen contract, Jackson should have asked the Ravens for the exact same contract, and he should have refused to play until he got it.

Instead, Jackson proceeded without a new deal. Between illnesses and injuries and the struggles of the team, he arguably has hampered his leverage.

Jackson now enters his option year. By rule, he’ll get $23 million. It’s a nice bump over the slotted four-year deal that paid out $9.5 million to the 32nd overall pick in the draft, but it’s not close to what he’s worth. Next year, if the Ravens apply the franchise tag, Jackson will get between $30 million and $35 million. In 2024, he’d get a 20-percent increase over the first tag for his second tag.

This approach, whether Jackson is intending the outcome or not, would force the Ravens to give him a 44-percent raise over his 2024 salary under the franchise tag or a 20-percent raise over his 2024 salary under the transition tag, which would give the Ravens only a right to match any offer sheet he signs elsewhere.

Some think this is the method to the apparent madness. That Jackson, without the benefit of a seasoned and savvy agent, is deciding to eschew long-term offers and put in seven years with the Ravens before hitting the open market and picking his next destination.

While the one-year-at-a-time approach can indeed work for quarterbacks, Lamar Jackson’s physical, run-heavy style significantly enhances the risk that, by the time 2025 rolls around, Jackson will be too banged up to break the bank.

Whatever Jackson does, he would benefit from the advice of one of the top quarterback agents. (I won’t name any for risk of having my phone blown up by whoever gets omitted.) As a former league MVP, Jackson can hire any agent he wants. Why not simply line up meetings with five of the top quarterback agents, if only to pick their brains about what approach they’d recommend?

It’s entirely possible that Jackson has consciously decided to ignore any and all overtures by the Ravens in order to get to the open market and pick his next team. And we fully support any approach that pushes back against the system and gets players what they deserve. As best we can tell, however, the Ravens are willing to give him what he deserves. At a minimum, it’s too early to know whether they will or they won’t, because Jackson won’t engage in the back-and-forth that either will, or won’t, result in a deal.

At some point, the Ravens may decide to protect themselves. Tyler Huntley, undrafted in 2020, is an exclusive-rights free agent in 2020. While the term necessarily means “not a free agent at all,” what if the Ravens decide to offer Huntley a real contract, a multi-year deal that pays him well to be the understudy to Jackson? If Jackson isn’t going to give the Ravens the long-term answer they want at the quarterback position, it would be smart for the Ravens to ensure that Huntley will be ready to go, if Jackson eventually is gone.

63 responses to “Lamar Jackson’s failure to engage Ravens points to awkward outcome, for everyone

  1. Ravens fans and specifically season ticket holders should have the right to know exactly why Jackson Missed so much time last season. Not just being informed that he has an
    “Ilness.” It seems like a cover for something.

  2. Huntley > Jackson. Would you rather have Huntley at $4-5M and they players they can around him or Jackson at $45M? I’ll take Huntley all day.

  3. Lamar Jackson is the most overrated player in football. Great athlete, mediocre quarterback. Guy can’t throw and is exposed every playoffs. Ravens probably growing tired of him letting them down in big games. Whole offense is tailored to his limitations and is so predictable

  4. ever notice the few TV Commercials he is in how little he talks .. doesnt seem to be getting good advice .. somebody needs to save him from himself..

  5. Jackson is doing the Ravens a huge favor by not trying to string arm then into a massive long term contract. It’s in the Ravens best interest not to give him a huge deal and Jackson is saving the Ravens from themselves.

  6. Good read and well written but the problem with all pro-football negotiations is the inherent risk and determining what is fair. Players deserve to get what they can but as we have seen, cap heavy superstar contracts often restrict the ability of the team to provide a supporting cast. Taken in that context the superstar player, usually the QB, must be good enough to overcome playing with economy level players to lead them to Super Bowls. Those type Superstar players are unusual and few and as a result, the usual outcome is the teams and fans get the short end of the fair stick. In LJ’s circumstance injury risk is much higher because of his style of play and his rare but fragile athletic ability. He certainly is as tough a player as there is in the NFL but should he suffer torn knee ligaments or achilles ligaments it is doubtful that he could return to his former level of play especially considering the ticking clock of father time that ages us all and robs him of playing time during a possible recovery. He should be fair to himself, but betting against injury in the NFL is a losers game he should have learned last season. LJ should take the contract and guaranteed money now and allow himself to play with abandon and bet with the house money.

  7. I would be terrified about a career ending injury if I were a running QB. Either Lamar (people who represent themselves have a fool for a client) or an agent should run, not walk towards a Josh Allen sized deal.

  8. Flash in the pan. His rushing numbers jump(ed) off the page but the passing numbers are pedestrIan in spite of the difficulty defenses have at defending both. Both are trending sharply down. His career trajectory will look like that of a bellcow running back. But clearly he’s smarter than everyone else with their fancy agents and whatnot, so it’s not like he should listen to me.

  9. I actually think he’s worth about $25m per year. Maybe 30 if the cal keeps going up. The problem is that deserves 5-6 years of guaranteed $25m but he’ll want way more. If I’m the ravens I’d give him that extension and nothing more. Id maybe tag him once if I thought the team had a chance at the super bowl. I just don’t see him aging well and he’s never proven it in the playoffs when you play better teams, better coaches, and you’ve gone through a full season of being hit (which happens to him more than most QBs). The season being an extra game longer without any extra bye weeks hurts him slightly IMO.

  10. Interesting how quarterbacks like Dak Prescott, Russel Wilson and Lamar Jackson have to endure all kinds of problems to get paid, but guys like Josh Allen, Carson Wentz, and even Jared Goff are handed $100+ million without missing a tee time. What could possibly account for the difference in treatment?

  11. If the Ravens pay Josh Allen money they might want a Josh Allen skill set. I would much rather have Josh Allen. Jackson needs to get an agent, ASAP. Jackson seems like a good guy and his teammates believe in him. This situation has the potential to go sideways leaving Jackson as a cautionary tale.

  12. Let him walk. Jackson can’t throw from the pocket, which is why he’s never won a playoff game. Running QBs don’t have long careers in the NFL. Cam is 32 and barely a back up level QB because he can’t throw in the pocket. Meanwhile Brady was in the MVP convo at 44 and Rodgers won it at 38. Even statuesque Manning made it to his late 30s.

  13. AFCN opponents hoping he gets his $45mill deal. Tho did Mr Regular Season get his law degree at Louisville? If not, may not be too bright to serve as his own negotiating team.

  14. When Tom Brady leaves money on the table, he’s praised as a great team leader.

    When Lamar Jackson leaves money on the table, he’s “misguided”.

  15. If Jackson wants to look for greener pastures elsewhere it would be a Godsend for the Ravens. You just can’t pay $40m/yr for a guy who lacks the accuracy to throw downfield. Oh sure, the guy can run but RB’s can be had for much cheaper. You’re paying for a QB. Come playoffs, you’ll always be playing better teams than that of the regular season so playoff games will be tougher. And, if you find yourself down and need to rally back, you’re not going to rally back by tucking the ball and taking off. You rally back by passing the ball. But if you never spent the regular season developing the timing and chemistry with the WRs how can anyone expect to find that timing and chemistry in that crucial moment? Jackson is exciting and fun to watch but can’t be counted on due to his style of play to beat the better teams in the playoffs. Let him walk.

  16. Wr/Rb playing Qb. The ravens will be foolish to pay him. If he was smart he would take out a insurance policy then bet on himself to have a great year and sign his huge contract………but he has shown he is not that smart

  17. Lamar and his team did a phenomenal job of throwing out the race card this week to put pressure on the franchise. Keep the focus on that, get the money and get eliminated early in the playoffs (if you make the playoffs)

  18. Teams don’t get hurt overpaying a good QB 3MM per year over several years.

    Teams get burned paying Goff and Wentz big contracts over many years.

    Josh Allens contract has massive guarantees, but he’s not making tip top dollar. He’s a very good QB and I’d be happy if I were the Bills.

    I’d rather have Allen than Jackson.

  19. While an absolute tremendous talent, do you ever see Jackson going toe to toe against Allen, Mahomes, Burrow,(and possibly Rodgers soon) in the playoffs? Maybe, but is maybe enough to pay a run first QB in a RB and TE heavy scheme $45 million over a 7-10 year span?

  20. Interesting how quarterbacks like Dak Prescott, Russel Wilson and Lamar Jackson have to endure all kinds of problems to get paid, but guys like Josh Allen, Carson Wentz, and even Jared Goff are handed $100+ million without missing a tee time. What could possibly account for the difference in treatment?——————————————————————————————————————————————————–Hmm. Wilson signed the biggest avg contract in NFL history at the time in 2019. Dak wanted to be the HIGHEST paid QB despite not being a top 5 QB and as this article states, the Ravens want to pay Lamar who is not playing ball. Allen is one of the top, if not the top player at his position, Wentz and Goff both won multiple playoff games and are actually good examples of why you don’t pay a QB that kind of money unless you are 100% sure he’s the long term answer.

  21. The Baltimore Ravens’ ownership,front office,coaching staff and fans will have a Jared Goff contract type regret if Lamar Jackson is signed to a market value QB contract. Wonder how long it will take Ravens fans to turn on Lamar after getting an early bounce from a few more post seasons?(or his body starts breaking down) That contract will turn into a 1000 pound albatross around the Baltimore Ravens team neck.

  22. Lamar Jackson has been in the league for 4 years and still doesn’t have 10,000 yards passing. He’s never completed 300 passes in a season. He’s only once had over 3,000 yards passing. Tom Brady (who’s 20 years older) almost had as many yards passing the last two years as Jackson has in his career. Sorry, but he’s more likely to end up injured and out of the league in 5 years than being better than Josh Allen. But this is the Ravens.

  23. The Ravens would be stupid to give him the same contract as the Bills gave Josh Allen. If you can’t tell how much better Allen is than Jackson then you haven’t been watching. Saying that only guys like Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson have all kinds of problems when it comes to getting a deal is ridiculous. Explain to me those problems. It is typical of QB negotiations to be long. As far as Wentz and Goff getting their contracts, it’s pretty simple. They helped lead their team to a Super Bowl. What has Lamar Jackson led the Ravens to? Absolutely nothing. And guess what, Baker Mayfield doesn’t have a new contract either. Why is that? They can’t decide if he’s worth it. The same thing the Ravens have to figure out with Lamar.

  24. Love watching Lj perform, what a talent. Certainly more at risk of injuring being a talented runner. Bit of a head scratcher then, to represent himself and fully take on the injury risk.

    As much as I enjoy watching him, he’s not been making much improvement as a passer.. And not worth his salt if he was unable to run due to injury at this point in his career.

    Perhaps he is being smart by waiting for the next crop of qb mega deals to reset the market..

    As mentioned, his backup qb played like his MVP self when he was out injured.. So he should hurry up!

  25. Let him play on the fifth year option. No matter what happens, draft a replacement in 2023. Even if they win the SB next season. Don’t make the Flacco mistake again.

    We have seen the future already, the only way to win a SB is with a QB on his rookie deal, or be a one-year all-star team like the Bucs and Rams.

  26. Jackson has already gotten hurt, though fans are suspicious of the length of injury. He is young but needs to get all the money he can, while he can before his career goes downhill.

  27. This will end well for Lamar….just look at running RBs Tebow, Vick Manziel, Kapernick, and Mariotta all successfully won zero championships.

  28. I would not sign him to a new contract, let him walk when his present contract is expired. Time to move on, Jackson is not a good NFL QB.

  29. Not to pile on but I wouldnt give him a large $40+ mill a year deal. With his playing style and pocket passing deficiencies Id be too scared to commit long term. All QBs lose athleticism as they age but Lamar has nothing else once that goes. From Lamars perspective he needs to get a multi year extension as his shelf life isnt long

  30. If I’m Baltimore, I franchise tag him once after this season and then let him walk or trade him. Just like with a RB, as he gets older, the hits will start to add up and his performance will suffer.

  31. Re salary cap, Ravens = Huntley
    Re Steelers. They get what they want = D Watson
    Re for fun and Watson’s old Team, Houston = L Jackson

  32. The fact he hasnt engaged them yet tells me he is in over his head. Is he trying The Who ever talks first loses game? I mean that’s not gonna work cause Baltimore would love to slow play this and have him play out there five years of his rookie deal then even franchise him for a
    Year before they have to decide to pay him. What does it say in that Baltimore hasn’t been exactly beating down the door to extend him?

  33. Give him 3 years @ $44m per. Maybe he’ll be the one QB each year holding a Lombardi. What he will for sure do is bring in a lot of fans and revenue.

  34. Huntley was crap. Lamar was atop the division when injured. Huntley was 1-4 in games played and failed to make the last second game winning plays like Jackson did 4 times last year. In what world is Huntley the better option? Oh, the guys who said keep Dalton and ship Prescott. Loser mentality.

  35. Numbers don’t lie. 1st team all pro, unanimous league MVP, 2 times pro bowl. Lamar has been the best QB of his draft class.

  36. The Ravens were baffled by the contract language, which ended every sentence and bullet point with, “KnowImSayin?”

  37. graysobr says:
    March 6, 2022 at 10:30 am

    Interesting how quarterbacks like Dak Prescott, Russel Wilson and Lamar Jackson have to endure all kinds of problems to get paid, but guys like Josh Allen, Carson Wentz, and even Jared Goff are handed $100+ million without missing a tee time. What could possibly account for the difference in treatment?
    ———-

    I dunno. Maybe Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes can give you some insight.

  38. trollingforjustice says:
    March 6, 2022 at 10:04 am
    Ravens fans and specifically season ticket holders should have the right to know exactly why Jackson Missed so much time last season. Not just being informed that he has an
    “Ilness.”* It seems like a cover for something.

    *illness

  39. Mike I don’t always agree with you. but I respect your opinions.
    But stories like this and the flores lawsuit, Deshaun and countless others.
    Where you take complex legal matters pertaining to the NFL and break them down
    Into digestible nuggets.I also find the ways that teams write contracts with void yrs and gaurantees to lessen the hit on the cap, give themselves and out. Or write a contract they know will never complete. they just push money down the rd. knowing expected cap space will give them a built in restructure. Its really neat if you can understand more than basic X’s & O’s

  40. I find it revealing that even the most delusional Ravens fans are now left with this support of Lamar: well, he’s better than Huntley! Even they have recognized this is quickly becoming a trainwreck. Look, the facts are glaring: Lamar is not a very good NFL QB. Just look at his performance in his last seven games last year. Almost half a season, in which he was the worst or 2nd worst QB in the entire league. He’s inaccurate, he can’t read defenses, and he can’t handle pressure. This is why he’s consistently never won in the playoffs when he has to face good defenses, and now teams have fully adjusted and even weaker defenses know how to stop him with cover 0 and blitzes. The dude is an amazing athlete, he’s fun to watch, but he’s injured and on his way out from being a starter within 3 years. Sign him to a long-term deal as if he’s one of the top QBs in the league? Are you crazy?

  41. HurtsToReadComments says:
    March 6, 2022 at 1:09 pm

    This will end well for Lamar….just look at running RBs Tebow, Vick Manziel, Kapernick, and Mariotta all successfully won zero championships
    ___________________________

    And I can name a ton more of non running QBs like Marino, Kelly and Moon who haven’t won crap either. So, what’s your point?

  42. Actually, the Ravens should play hard-core hardball for as long as it takes because they know a few indisputable facts: 1) No other team will commit on the gimmick offense route as much as Baltimore has, nor would spend big money on a RB/QB who shall always be much more RB than QB. 2) Baltimore has a much cheaper backup who is a talented, actual QB. I would low-ball the hell out of Jackson because even he (as his umm, agent), knows the aforementioned cold-hearted facts…

  43. The problem with Quarterbacks getting such a huge slice is less to go around for your teammates (see Cooper in Dallas). Under the current system these Quaterbacks are going to have to continue to work with new skill position players or with underfunded olines and defense.

  44. He’s a running back not a QB and the going rate for RB is 15 -20 mil.
    He has also a limited shelf life.
    Finally no sportsman is worth more that 10 mil a year!

  45. I wish he would walk. He doesn’t realize how good he has it in Baltimore. He’d be holding a clipboard or playing some Taysom Hill role anywhere else. He thinks or he’s being led to believe that he’s far better than he is. Now, that being said, he had no protection last year. First game of the year, Maxx Crosby was in face the entre game. And it only got worse from there.
    Last year especially, he was constantly looking for the home run. The 20-40 yard, downfield throw. And with a swiss cheese line, that was nearly impossible. But when you watched games back, there would be underneath stuff open. And to people other than Marquise Brown or Mark Andrews.
    I think the Ravens would be well served to offer Huntley some sort of bridge deal, to get them through the next year or two and play hardball with Jackson if that’s what he wants to do. The tape doesn’t lie and he’s not the runner he was 2 or 3 years ago. And his passing ability has only marginally improved. But they won’t. They’ll string this along, overpay either through a long term deal or the tag, and completely screw themselves for the foreseeable future.

  46. By rule, he’ll get $23 million. It’s a nice bump over the slotted four-year deal that paid out $9.5 million to the 32nd overall pick in the draft, but it’s not close to what he’s worth.
    =========================================
    No close to what he’s worth? That is probably dead on balls accurate of what he’s worth.

  47. I don’t get what Jackson’s doing, he’s only providing himself with a murky future at this point. If the Ravens end up tagging him, that’s the beginning of the end. Once a player gets tagged they rarely sign an extended contract with that team – which is why they get tagged, because the two parties can’t agree on a long-term contract.

    And while a lot of people seem to think Jackson isn’t “worth” a long-term deal, that’s just not how it works. He’s a franchise QB and has won the league MVP. There is no “middle ground” with QB salaries. They won’t sign him for $30 million per season, because that’s not the going rate.

    I get the anxiety about locking him up long-term, but there also is the reality of who will be their QB if they don’t sign him? They need to have a replacement in place before he’s out the door.

  48. The Ravens should trade Jackson to the Panthers for (2) 1st’s and (2) 2nd’s. Then draft Malik Willis with the 6th pick in the 1st round of the 2022 draft and also sign Huntley for 4 years @ 4 million a year.

    Let Huntley and Willis have a QB battle for the starting QB and both would be on cap friendly contracts.

    The Ravens with the other 3 picks from the Panthers could fill in the holes as needed.

  49. I know it’s hard for any fan base to be rational, especially when you have a popular player who’s an incredible athlete. I’ve stated my case for years now that Lamar and this offense is smoke and mirrors for many reasons, and the bottom line is that the playoffs provide the ultimate evidence that Lamar simply isn’t a good NFL QB.
    Ravens fans will never, ever agree with this and simply revert to “he was MVP and he’s won a zillion games.” Ok, fair enough. But wouldn’t it make the most sense to focus on the most recent year of performance? Carson Wentz threw for 4000 yards, 27 TDs, and 7 INT in 2019, so does that make him great going forward in 2022?
    Objectively, in 2021, Lamar was well below average for the league, and in fact if you take his last 7 games, which is a meaningful sample size, he was arguably the worst QB in the league. And he’s now been hurt, which was always the big potential risk with him. Defenses have fully adjusted now, thanks to Brian Flores doing in the regular season what good defenses in the playoffs have always done to him. His flaws have been entirely exposed and he’s not all of a sudden going to become an accurate thrower who can read defenses. So why would you ever pay him mega-bucks and kill your salary cap in a long-term deal for him???

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