On Wednesday, the short version from Ravens coach John Harbaugh regarding quarterback Lamar Jackson and his injured knee went like this: “No updates at this time.”
The longer version was more nuanced and revealing as to the current potential push-and-pull between franchise and franchise quarterback who has yet to sign a franchise-quarterback contract.
Jackson injured his knee on December 4. He hasn’t practiced or played since then. If he’s not 100 percent, the question is whether he’d play at a lower level than that, given that he has yet to secure his long-term financial payday.
He arguably shouldn’t risk it. Harbaugh’s comments regarding whether the team’s comfort level with Lamar playing at less than 100 percent subtly suggest otherwise.
“Of course, yeah, whatever — as long as he’s safe and healthy and can play,” Harbaugh said. “It’s for any player. It’s not really just any particular player. I mean, any player goes out there and if he’s healthy and safe and it’s not gonna do any damage to an injury. Any player, you know, plays and does what he can to the level that he can in that situation.”
That’s a significant “if,” frankly. Especially with a knee injury. If a ligament (reportedly the PCL) is compromised, it presumably can be aggravated. Likewise, any effort to compensate for an impairment or to play at a lower speed can create other potential problems for the player.
Bottom line? If he had his contract, there would be far less financial risk in playing. But he doesn’t. And, like any other player, he should consider very carefully the overall risks associated with that one extra game before finally completing his five-year rookie deal.