Report: Lamar Jackson rejected $133 million fully guaranteed

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It previously had been impossible to assess whether Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson should have taken the best offer the team made on a long-term contract, in lieu of playing in the final year of his rookie contract for $23 million. There is now a firm data point regarding the deal he rejected.

Chris Mortensen of reports that Jackson passed on a six-year deal (i.e., a five-year extension) that would have paid him $133 million fully-guaranteed at signing. That’s more than Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray ($103.3 million) and Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson ($124 million) received in full guarantees on longer contracts (seven years each) signed in recent weeks.

Jackson “could have earned” more than $290 million over six years. The new-money average would have exceeded, per Mortensen, the $48.5 million paid by the Broncos to Wilson. (Wilson’s deal was reported as having a new-money average of $49 million; as explained here, the failure to include the value of the 17th-game checks for 2022 and 2023 in the old/new-money comparison drove the average down to $48.5 million.)

It’s unclear how much of the $290 million would have counted as Jackson’s base deal. Including the 17th-game check, he’ll make $24.35 million this year. Subtracting that from $290 million and dividing by five results in an average of $53.13 million. Thus, Jackson apparently would have had to hit certain triggers to earn the kind of money that would have catapulted him to $290 million.

Mortensen also reports that the deal included massive de-escalators ($2.5 million per year) tied to Jackson participating in most of the offseason program. Jackson skipped the team’s voluntary April-to-June sessions and practices in 2022, after being mostly if not completely present in his first four seasons.

The reporting has some gaps that make a full assessment of the offer impossible. What would the first-year cash flow have been? How much of the contract would have been guaranteed for injury? How much of the injury guarantee would have converted to a full guarantee in March 2023, since there’s no way they would have cut him after only one year, given whatever they would have been paying him in 2022?

None of that apparently matters, since Mortensen makes it clear that Jackson wanted a fully-guaranteed, Deshaun Watson-style contract. And, as surmised here, Mortensen reports that Jackson received “active counsel from the NFLPA at the highest levels.” Mortensen also adds that the union told Jackson “based on performance and age (25) he was justified to demand a fully guaranteed contract if that’s what he wanted.”

He’s justified to demand it, but the Ravens are justified to refuse to do it, just as the Cardinals and Broncos were. Remember, the union has made its position clear that it wants more fully-guaranteed contracts. It’s therefore fair to ask whether the NFLPA’s agenda in this regard clouded the advice Jackson received, causing him to roll the dice on a potential Kirk Cousins-style, year-to-year strategy that entails playing in 2023 and 2024 under the franchise tag, becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2025, and trying to get a fully-guaranteed contract on the open market.

Jackson could make more than $125 million (factoring in the seventeenth game check) if he remains sufficiently healthy and effective to get tagged twice. But, per the report, would have $133 million fully-guaranteed right now if he had taken the Ravens offer, plus an unknown amount on top of that in injury guarantees that likely would have flipped to full guarantees at some point in the next year or two.

Perhaps most importantly, he also would have made much more than $24.35 million in 2022. The specific amount still isn’t known. It’s a key factor for evaluating the deal.

What if he walked away from more than $50 million, cash in hand, for 2022? More than $70 million? More than $100 million? At some point, the quest for a fully-guaranteed contract must yield to the size of the bird in the hand.

We’ve said all along that Jackson needs someone who can fully and objectively evaluate the team’s best offer in comparison to a three-year quest for unrestricted free agency, which may — or may not — lead to the white whale of a fully-guaranteed deal. The union, frankly, isn’t objective; it wants players to hold firm for fully-guaranteed contracts, so that the dynamic will become a trend and, in time, standard practice. Jackson needs advice from someone with no agenda or bias whatsoever.

And if Jackson suffers a serious injury or if his play declines over the next three years for any reason (including an accumulation of minor injuries based on his physical playing style that leaves him not the player he was when he won the MVP award three years ago), Jackson will have only himself — and his union — to blame for betting on himself and losing.

61 responses to “Report: Lamar Jackson rejected $133 million fully guaranteed

  1. Being a Cowboy fan and based on the Dak Prescott negotiations I would trade him for a full bevy of draft picks tomorrow. Go get a young QB next year and start over.

  2. The Ravens have a really good backup quarterback who could start for most teams so they should let Lamar playout this year and then either trade him or let him go in free agency.

  3. Crap like this is why I’ve lost interest in the NFL. Guys turning down astronomical amounts of money as if they are being offended. As it stands now he makes more in about 7 minutes than we will make in a lifetime. Glad it’s hockey season soon.

  4. If these terms are true, he was a fool to not run to the signing table. Jackson ‘s style of play is a ticking time bomb and his ankle injury should be all the example he needs. NFLPA should be ashamed to push a fully guaranteed contract when these terms represented a huge step in the direction of full guarantees. Every owner should see Haslam as enemy #2 distantly behind Snyder.

  5. Trade him while you can get something for him. Huntley is a good QB. It’s only a matter of time before he gets hurt or flames out like Cam Newton.

  6. Man, Lamar, Bru it’s your biz and I’ll definitely not benefit from that money but dang, that’s a lot of dough..seriously Ima Bengals fan but I think betting on yourself is not a good idea especially when a lot is on the line this year..there’s a chance you might not get this offer again..
    Get an agent. And it’s time to realize that the browns are crazy. No ones getting DWatson money anytime soon..sorry

  7. Once the Ravens see that Jackson still can’t run anything more than an RPO play with Mark Andrews running down the seam or pulling the ball down and running after the first read then they will be even LESS inclined to pay him what he wants. Grow and DEVELOP like Josh Allen by learning how to throw receivers open Lamarrrrrrrrrr and you would get all the money in the world

  8. The working stiff making $100,000/year would need 1,330 years to equal what LJ turned down.

    This is beyond ridiculous.

  9. Andrew Berry and Jimmy Haslam’s contract to Deshaun Watson is taking NFL down on a fast lane to MLB mess. The time bomb is lit. Enjoy the superstar QB led NFL for a few more years, then boom! Simply economics.

  10. He shouldn’t take less than $124M guaranteed at signing (this year’s salary plus two tags). He has an MVP, unlike Kyler or Russell, and he hasn’t sexually assaulted 2 dozen women (allegedly) like Deshaun.

    The writer can hem-and-haw like he’s leaving an awfully big bird in hand but wouldn’t that same logic apply to last year, too? If he signed then, what would his AAV have been? Josh Allen signed a $43M per year contract. It is a strongly appreciating market.

    Russell Wilson’s year 1 cash flow is $57M. Meh. Lamar’s $24M provide plenty of cushion whilst waiting for the best possible deal.

  11. We can all thank the Cardinals, Broncos and Ravens for working to undo the idiocy that is the Browns.

    In Baltimore, people keep comparing this to what Flacco did in gambling on himself. However, this is apples to oranges as Flacco was taking a fraction of the hits Lamar does. Not to mention, Flacco had Ray and Ed Reed on defense that year.

  12. Just because Cleveland is dumb enough to offer 230 million guaranteed doesn’t mean the ravens have to do it. No where does it say Lamar should reasonably expect or demand the Ravens to be as dumb as Cleveland. Baltimore knows that Jackson, who been hit 737 times since 2018 and while it may not result in a career-ender taking that many hits does increase his chances of not playing 17 games this season.

  13. Let’s hope the rest of his body is as hard as his head because he’s going to need it. That’s a lot of risk he’s taking. He’s just not figuring out the value of cash now, this year, and guaranteed. What he’s also not figuring is the value, or value lost, if other teams are turne off from having to negotiate with him.


  14. The elephant in the room is that the NFLPA and obviously Lamar Jackson are part of the 1% of the population that doesn’t think the Deshaun Watson deal was stupid.
    Furthermore, this information being released is going to turn the Baltimore fan base against Lamar because the team offered equal to or better than the last two QB contracts given, one of which at least has a Super Bowl ring.

  15. As a Raven’s fan, I hope we do well but if he gets hurt or we suck, then fine. Still prefer that to bankrupting the team on an unproven QB. The greed on all sides has gotten out of hand.

  16. Jackson is getting VERY BAD advice and being used by the NFLPA. His speed, running ability and longevity must be compared to running backs who generally have a 5 year expiration date. Once he loses his elusiveness due to either injury or age he loses his attractiveness to desperate teams. Long term fully guaranteed contracts handcuff the team from paying other players and as such the player must be able to carry the team. Thus far Jackson’s playoff record does not support that he can. He is a talented player in the right situation who would be better off to compromise for his own long-term self-interest and future as well as the team and other team mates.

  17. Start looking at the QB Prospects Raven fans.
    That is just insane. Yes he’s a great talent, but teams have already figured out how to defend him.
    Just because the Browns have no clue doesn’t mean the Ravens need to acquiesce.
    That sounded like a fair Deal that he turned down

  18. This is playing out just as I predicted back in the spring. Once Watson got his FGC the die was cast as far as Lamar is concerned. So Lamar HAS been getting advice, but not from an agent (that we know of). The NFLPA has been advising him and says that, based o his service and age, Jackson deserves a FGC. No kidding. What the hell were they supposed to say?

    As a Ravens fan, I don’t blame Lamar for what he wants, and thinks what he deserves. But I equally don’t blame Steve Bisciotti for declining to to give Lamar a FGC. No. If other teams want to do it start lining up the multiple draft picks you want to give up and put Eric DeCosta on speed dial.

  19. Offered just under Josh Allen guarantees, seems fair. One has more upside with pocket passing in today’s game, look at the stats. Both have game that will sideline eventually.

  20. Ravens dodged a bullet here. Whoever said it was like Leveon Bell is right. Bell, and A. Brown, and the other Steelers WR before that who went to Miami.

  21. Lamar passing on $133M is going to come back to bite him. Ravens should look to trade him for a haul of draft picks and draft another young QB who’s actually an NFL caliber passer.

  22. I would rather pay Lamar than Russell(LOOK AT ME). Russell is not worth kind of money. He’s more of entertainment person than football player. Lamar Is real player

  23. the NFLPA is working as hard as it can to plunder and send the ship to the bottom as fast as it can.

  24. It’s an interesting gamble on his part. If he plays the franchise tag game he stands to make somewhere in the ball park of $84 million which is about equal to or more than Mahomes, Murry, and Wilson did in the first three years of their contracts. But negotiating as a 25 year old vs a 28 year old is a significant difference. NFL contracts are designed to short the player the last year or two of their contract, so I don’t blame players trying to maximize their earning potential and get as much guaranteed cash as possible. Most teams are employing “guaranteed” salaries in years 1-3 to boost guaranteed dollars, but those dollars were going to be paid in all but the most extreme circumstances. It’s years 4-7 where teams backload half of the money and then cut the player when the savings exceeds the dead cap hits or ask them to take pay cuts. Some do get the “renegotiation” where salary is turned into a bonus and the cap hit is spread across years. If I were in Jackson’s position I would flip the script on the normal structure, because the NFL owners may have the discipline to reject fully guaranteed contracts and will for a 28-29 year dual threat QB, and offer a 6 year contract $160 million signing bonus, $10 million base salary per year, and $40 million in incentives ($4.6 million per year) and work out ($2 million per year) requirements. That in truth is a $232 million fully guaranteed contract with only $160 million in actual guarantees. Because the bonus is so high and the base salary is so low even in the last year of the contract cutting him would still cost the team $9 million in dead cap. His year to year cap hit would be $43 which is much lower than Murry, Wilson, Allen, Watson, and Mahomes by year 3 of any of their contracts. Anyway, there is a better way to chase guaranteed money but it does require the owner to have way more liquid assets, but cap wise, player happiness wise, and NFL collusion wise it works.

  25. Baltimore tag and trade this fool following the season. When $133 mill in guaranteed money becomes “insulting”….it’s time to move on.

  26. In all fairness to Lamar, he’s probably assuming the rate of inflation is going so high he’ll at least want to buy a hamburger with that money someday

  27. I thought that pro athletes didn’t have their eyes on other players wallets.
    I’m certain that Baltimore has told him that 100% guaranteed contract is out of the question.
    Jackson is banging his head against the wall on this.

  28. It was nuts of the Browns to give Watson that contract, especially with all his baggage. But in the end Watson is a better QB than Jackson and has a much more promising future, and his bargaining power was far greater. The Ravens offer looks very fair, if not excessive.

  29. Now reality: Jackson has only 2 playoff appearances: In those 2 games, he threw for a TOTAL of 341 yards. Combined QBR: 75; threw 2 interceptions and sacked 8 times. Passing TD’s: ZERO. Nahhh, the Ravens are far too smart to sign this guy to that silly contract. The Browns are the only team that would do this in the NFL.

  30. Are we supposed to feel sorry for a guy who rejected 133 million guaranteed? I don’t. That’s just stupidity and greed.

  31. frodo says:
    September 11, 2022 at 8:50 am

    “That’s just nuts, I would surely have taken it.”

    Sure you would have.

  32. bradygirl12 says:
    September 11, 2022 at 2:46 pm

    “Are we supposed to feel sorry for a guy who rejected 133 million guaranteed?”

    Nope. Try not to be envious that there is someone who can reject such an offer.

  33. mackcarrington says:
    September 11, 2022 at 12:50 pm

    “I thought that pro athletes didn’t have their eyes on other players wallets.
    I’m certain that Baltimore has told him that 100% guaranteed contract is out of the question.
    Jackson is banging his head against the wall on this.”

    No. He isn’t. He simply is not going to sign with the Ravens.

  34. youpiratenow says:
    September 11, 2022 at 9:46 am

    “Just because Cleveland is dumb enough to offer 230 million guaranteed doesn’t mean the ravens have to do it. No where does it say Lamar should reasonably expect or demand the Ravens to be as dumb as Cleveland.”

    Lamar can expect or demand whatever he wants whether it is reasonable or not. The Ravens do not have to pay him. He simply doesn’t sign. Play out this year. Get franchised the next two years and then hit free agency. There is nothing wrong with that. Relax. Just relax.

  35. bondlake says:
    September 11, 2022 at 9:26 am

    “The working stiff making $100,000/year would need 1,330 years to equal what LJ turned down.”

    No one is paying money to advertise to the millions of viewers watching the working stiff do his job. No one is saying that professional athletes are important. What is evident is that a lot of people care enough to watch them do their jobs. That’s why they get paid.

  36. cowboysfan8369 says:
    September 11, 2022 at 9:05 am
    Crap like this is why I’ve lost interest in the NFL. Guys turning down astronomical amounts of money as if they are being offended. As it stands now he makes more in about 7 minutes than we will make in a lifetime. Glad it’s hockey season soon.

    You’re projecting quite a bit here. Jackson is a good guy and he hasn’t said anything publicly to insult the Ravens organization. He has a right to negotiate whatever deal he wants – it’s a lot of money, so he should just take whatever they offer? And why do you personally care how much money they make? Do you get offended by how much the owners make?

    It’s the nature of the business – the NFL is very popular, so there’s a lot of money to be had. No need to take it so personally.

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