So what happens if it doesn’t get done by Week One?
Obviously, it could still get done after the first game of the regular season. It’s not a real deadline, but something imposed by Jackson. He can change his mind at any time, and the Ravens at any point could give him an offer close enough to what he wants to make it happen.
If the deal doesn’t get done before the conclusion of the 2022 season, the Ravens will have a limited window to continue to negotiate exclusively with Jackson. Then, they’ll have to decide whether to apply the franchise tag and, perhaps more importantly, whether to use the non-exclusive version or the more expensive exclusive level.
The Ravens went through that analysis a decade ago, after Joe Flacco rejected the team’s best offer in August and bet on himself. He won, squeezing a market-setting deal on the eve of the deadline for applying the tag — at a time when teams like the Browns and Chiefs were believed to be ready to try to sign him to an offer sheet if the non-exclusive tag had been used.
The Ravens may welcome the chance to use the non-exclusive tag with Jackson. If another team signs him to an offer sheet, the Ravens simply need to match it and he’s signed. While certain games can be played to make it harder for the Ravens to match, the league long ago closed the Steve Hutchinson loophole. Still, the Ravens would have to assume the risk that another team will make (and Jackson will accept) an offer they can’t or won’t match — and to accept two first-round picks as compensation.
A tag and trade is also possible, with the Ravens sending Jackson to a preferred destination in exchange for acceptable compensation. That’s the only way Jackson could get to Miami at this point, given that the Dolphins lost next year’s first-round pick due to the Sean Payton/Tom Brady tampering probe.
Through it all, the Ravens and Jackson have the ability to do a long-term deal at any time. That window would close only on July 15 of 2023, if he’s tagged by the Ravens and not traded.
The easiest way to avoid all of this is to get a deal done in the next four weeks. That’s obviously easier said than done; otherwise, a deal would be done by now.