What if Lamar Jackson refuses to play today?

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens
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Some would say that, without the Ravens giving quarterback Lamar Jackson the contract he wants, he should refuse to play under the contract he has.

So here’ the question. What would happen if/when Jackson decides at some point between now at 1:00 p.m. ET that he’s just not going to play?

Obviously, he can’t be forced to play. He’d sacrifice his game check if he flat-out refused to play. And he’d set himself up for potential discipline for conduct detrimental to the team, which maxes out at a four-game suspension without pay.

The other reality of refusing to play is that, eventually, his contract would toll to 2023. Which would force the Ravens and Jackson to do it all over again in 2023 — and which would delay the potential Kirk Cousins, year-to-year strategy that puts Jackson on the open market in 2025.

It’s HIGHLY unlikely that he would do this. As multiple sources throughout the league have said, Jackson simply isn’t wired that way.

That said, this is the first year of his career in which he seems to be keenly aware of the risk-reward realities of turning down long-term security and playing with only his current-year salary guaranteed. Will he be thinking about getting injured? Will it affect the way he plays?

Moving forward, will it impact his willingness to play through injury? The concept of the “hold-in” has become popular in recent years. It previously referred to a player who wanted a new contract, didn’t have one, and relied on an injury (real, embellished, or flat-out fabricated) to justify not playing.

What would the team do in that situation? Call him out? Suggest he’s using an injury through which he’d ordinarily play in order to express his displeasure with his lack of a contract?

If the Ravens already have decided to apply the franchise tag in 2023, it won’t matter if he has a down year and/or misses multiple games due to injury (or “injury”). So why should Jackson, if he’s banged up at all, put himself into the fray at anything less than 100 percent?

These are fair questions to ask as this unprecedented situation unfolds. For the first time ever, there’s a franchise quarterback who wants a new deal, a team that is willing to give him a new deal, an impasse over whether the deal will be fully-guaranteed, and no agent to advise Jackson on whether, for example, he should have held out from training camp or engaged in a hold-in as that term is now used, showing up and refusing to practice or play until business was taken care of.

It’s too late for Jackson to walk away or hold a one-man wildcat strike. It will be interesting to see whether, as he inevitably accumulates bumps and bruises during games that count, he decides to apply a much higher bar as to what it will take to get him to keep playing without the long-term deal he clearly wanted.

30 responses to “What if Lamar Jackson refuses to play today?

  1. If he refuses to play Huntley will play, and I’d guess their results would be about the same.

  2. Then they’ll discover their receivers! Both his backups are better passers. I’m sure Baltimore will deaal him for whatever they can get, go with the backups for now and draft one of the top QBs coming out in a great class next year. They wil either way and he loses!

  3. Nonsense. They have J K Dobbins, Mike Davis & Justice Hill to rotate and shuffle the load. Plus, they recently signed Kenyan Drake as well.

    I think the RB room will be fine.

  4. Lamar came to camp every day. No hold out and no hold in. He can’t show the Ravens that made a mistake in not giving him what he wants if he isn’t on the field. Lamar will play and the same balls to wall effort he plays with every game

  5. Well, he’d forfeit roughly 1.3 million. That’s a very jagged pill to swallow to try and get something that may not exist.

  6. Lamar will play as he always does, all out. Any suggestion that the contract status will affect his performance on the field is absurd.

  7. If I was Jackson I’d be avoiding contact. Coach calls a QB running play, I call an audible.

    Then again, if I was Jackson, I’d have hired an agent months ago

  8. The Ravens would be fools to give Jackson a long term contract. The majority of Jackson’s effectiveness is primarily due to his running ability and the shelf life for running QBs seems to be about only 5 to 7 years. There is no way this guy will be playing QB at a high level in his 30s. On top of it, he is too one dimensional to beat a good defensive team in the playoffs. There’s a reason he only has a 1-3 playoff record. I wouldn’t pay him more than $25M – $30M per year. I even wonder if there is a market for him outside of Baltimore?

  9. His choices have clearly shown that his poor decision making isn’t just limited to when he’s on the field.

  10. Would’t matter. The Ravens could play their third string QB and still beat the lowly Jets by a huge margin.

  11. The NFL is getting as bad as the NBA and baseball. All about greed any more. I have the sniffles and or a hangnail, I can’t play for 2 weeks but I’ll take my 250 million for sure

  12. Or what if he has a severe injury? Same answer, Huntley plays and Jackson doesn’t get the money he could have had guaranteed insured or otherwise. Maybe the NFLPA will hire him.

  13. I hope he has an amazing season. The Ravens then overpay him, hamstringing their team for years. lol.

  14. It will be bad! He is my only QB on my fantasy team. Other than that I don’t give a squat about Jonny Hairball and the Ravens. I will say this,if he decides to sit, the Ravens chances for a Super Bowl will be “never more” for this year least.

  15. Jackson has good footwork in the pocket, and he can establish a good passing game in the range 10-30 yards. You add up a system where the running game does include him on top of a rotation of RB in a creative zone scheme approach. The only thing the coaching staff has to do is to let him refine his pass skills while maintaining defenses on their heels because of their ground power which does include him. The Ravens are a playoff team that’s their floor anyway.

  16. Its kind of nonsensical to think this is even remotely a realistic scenario. You can what if anything but a starting QB looking to build his value and betting on himself id counter to deciding to just petulantly take his ball and go home so to speak. Pulling a stunt like that would be a seriously detrimental to him and really provide no clear benefit.

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