Ravens now have two star players heading toward free agency, but only one franchise tag

NFL: OCT 27 Ravens at Buccaneers
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By trading for linebacker Roquan Smith, the Ravens now have a pair of 2018 first-round picks who are in their fifth-year option years — and currently heading for free agency in March 2023.

In Chicago, Smith risked being franchise-tagged absent a new deal by early next year. In Baltimore, the Ravens have a dilemma. With both Smith and quarterback Lamar Jackson heading toward free agency, if both refuse to do a deal, one of them will definitely become a free agent.

That presumably would be Smith, if it came down to one or the other. It’s possible that they didn’t do the trade without already having an understanding as to what Smith would expect. (The Bears, in theory, could have authorized such communications.)

Complicating matters is that both players represent themselves. Thus, nothing is done until it’s done, and any unofficial understandings that aren’t final, binding contracts could more easily be disregarded by the player, if he so chooses. And there would be nothing wrong with that, if the players choose to back away from any informal deal that isn’t signed.

Bottom line? The Ravens need to get one of these two players to put their signature on a new deal by the deadline for applying the franchise tag early next year, or one of them will have a clear path to the open market.

22 responses to “Ravens now have two star players heading toward free agency, but only one franchise tag

  1. Ravens FO doesn’t strike me as an organization (that really really loves draft picks) as one that would make this deal without some type of contract talks taking place prior to the deal being final.

  2. If they resign Smith before FA… they still traded away picks for a guy they could have signed in March.

  3. I think Jackson wants out of Baltimore; probably angling to a bigger market. The Ravens have been trying to sign him for a couple of years with no success. Rather than the difficulty being that Jackson represents himself, maybe the issue is that he just wants to play elsewhere.

  4. Lamar is finished. And good riddance. Let someone else destroy their cap for a running back.

  5. Jackson might be good for one more contract but as he gets older a team has to worry about how much his running skills will diminish. Even the best RB’s have a tough time staying elite through three contracts. Elliot is a good example. Mobile QB’s??? Hello Denver… It’s just the nature of the game…

  6. RobfromAmarillo says:
    October 31, 2022 at 8:44 pm
    I think Jackson wants out of Baltimore; probably angling to a bigger market. The Ravens have been trying to sign him for a couple of years with no success. Rather than the difficulty being that Jackson represents himself, maybe the issue is that he just wants to play elsewhere.
    __________________________________________

    I think he just wants to be the Highest paid QB. Given that he has been more successful and durable on the field with none of the off field baggage as the current Highest paid QB it seems reasonable. If Baltimore will not top Watsons contract one of the other 31 teams may do it.

  7. if Roquan leaves as a UFA the Ravens would certainly qualify for a 3rd round comp pick in 2024. The Ravens work those comp picks better than most – unfortunately for this Steelers fan…

  8. When negotiating a contract it’s about having a position of power and knowing your value in the marketplace. Jackson is an MVP QB in his 3rd season as a pro and has Jackson goes so does the Raven. Jackson doesn’t take big hits or put himself in a position where the defense gets a big hit on him. Lamar has no WRs compared to other QBs in the NFL, Jackson made Mark Andrews a star TE because of his lack of weapons. If he had a true # 1 WR…

  9. Franchise tagging LJ would be a dangerous move.
    Tagged players can remain unsigned as long as they want and unsigned players can’t be traded or fined for not showing up until they start missing games during the season.
    That means the Ravens could be forced to use $40+ million of their cap space on a QB who may or may not show up during the season and who won’t be on the same page as his teammates if and when he does show up.
    Or they could rescind the tag and send Lamar straight to free agency.

    Not options that offer much hope to Ravens fans.

    Better to sign or trade Lamar before deciding whether to tag Roquan or not.

  10. You now have a QB and LB that want to be the highest paid at their positions. You’re going to end up like the Packers if you go that route.

  11. Negotiate direct with two players so they can save 3%.

    Seems like a good agent would find other revenue streams to offset that.

  12. All of these comments are so misguided. “PAY HIM”. Yea, they tried to offer him the highest QB contract in the league in $$ per year and he refused to sign unless it was 100% guaranteed. The issue isn’t salary. The sticking point has and will continue to be GUARANTEES. Ravens will not cave to that demand, as it sets an awful precedent for the rest of the league. Thus, the impasse.

  13. I believe the ravens will strike a deal is smith over the bye. They will non exclusive tag Lamar and match any reasonable offer any team would extend or take the 2 1sts that they would get as compensation.

  14. Ravens offered Lamar more than Aaron Rodgers top contract. He said no. He wants it fully guaranteed. That is not likely to happen.

    So the Ravens are happy to tag him and use him up for 2 more years.

    The ravens will try to sign Roquan. They didn’t give up a ton for Roquan when you consider the compensatory pick formula. That should give the Ravens a 3rd round pick back if they don’t sign Roquan to a deal.

  15. Or the Ravens Franchise Tag Jackson assuming they can’t agree to a deal and transition tag Smith letting the market set his value. Seems like a pretty easy way of doing that and not letting Smith put crazy numbers on his value.

    When you’re ready to hire me, let me know!

  16. I don’t see the issue with Lamar’s contract being fully guaranteed. If a QB is getting that big of a deal, the odds are quite high they won’t plan on releasing him anytime soon. The Browns screwed up the league with the moronic Watson contract, but you can’t argue that Jackson doesn’t deserve that over him.

  17. steelersbandwagon says:
    November 1, 2022 at 12:08 pm
    Ravens offered Lamar more than Aaron Rodgers top contract. He said no. He wants it fully guaranteed. That is not likely to happen.

    So the Ravens are happy to tag him and use him up for 2 more years.

    The ravens will try to sign Roquan. They didn’t give up a ton for Roquan when you consider the compensatory pick formula. That should give the Ravens a 3rd round pick back if they don’t sign Roquan to a deal
    __________________________________________

    And it sounds like Jackson is more than happy to play on the franchise tag 2 seasons and hit the open market at 27 with $100 million in earnings banked. I’m sure he looking around at his skill position talent compared to every other QB except maybe Justin Fields and gets envious.

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