What will Ravens do about Lamar Jackson’s contract?

Baltimore Ravens v Jacksonville Jaguars
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When Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson refused to accept the team’s best offer before the season began because it didn’t consist of a five-year full guarantee (like Deshaun Watson‘s contract), it appeared likely that the Ravens would apply the exclusive franchise tag to Jackson for 2023. With the Ravens one loss away from embarking on their offseason, is that still the case?

It may not be.

The Ravens may decide that the time has come to let Lamar get a glimpse of the offers other teams would (or wouldn’t) make, with the thinking being that (like the Ravens) no one else would give him a five-year, fully-guaranteed contract. That could happen in three different ways.

First, the Ravens could apply the non-exclusive tag. It would be significantly cheaper than the exclusive tag, and it would give teams the ability to negotiate with Jackson and to sign him to an offer sheet. However, the team that ultimately signs Jackson would have to be willing to give up a pair of first-round picks if/when the Ravens don’t match the offer Jackson accepts. It also could open the door to a trade agreement with the Ravens for something less than two first-round picks.

Any transaction under the non-exclusive tag would depend on Jackson and a new team negotiating a deal that he finds acceptable. That becomes harder to do if the new team would also have to give the Ravens a package that presumably would include at least one first-round pick.

Second, the Ravens could simply let Jackson become a free agent, unrestricted and unlimited. At that point, Jackson would have to try to navigate the various available options, leveraging one team against the other until someone (ideally) offers him a five-year, fully-guaranteed contract. He’d quite possibly learn very quickly that no one will give him that kind of a contract. He’d also possibly learn that, of all available offers, the deal the Ravens are willing to sign remains the most fair and appropriate — assuming the Ravens would still offer what they offered before the season began.

Third, the Ravens could apply the transition tag to Jackson. Even cheaper than the non-exclusive franchise tag, the transition tag could be the best middle ground between letting Jackson hit the open market and hampering his prospects with the compensation required by the franchise tag. The Ravens would have the right to match the offer sheet Lamar signs with a new team. It would then be incumbent on Jackson to go negotiate an acceptable deal.

What would someone else offer? Who would break ranks like the Browns did with a five-year, fully-guaranteed contract? Would anyone at this point, especially after Jackson finishing two straight seasons unable to play due to injury?

However it plays out, Jackson would find out what’s out there. Or what isn’t out there. And the Ravens would have a chance to match the best offer Jackson finds elsewhere.

That approach entails risk that Jackson and a new team would craft an offer sheet the Ravens wouldn’t or couldn’t match. But if Jackson, without an agent, can’t close a deal to stay in Baltimore, would he be able to finalize an offer sheet specifically aimed at getting the Ravens to decline to match? Or would he simply insist on a five-year, fully-guaranteed offer, entertaining no discussions for anything other than that?

The reality for the Ravens is that every option at this point entails risk. At some point in the coming weeks, the team will have to make a strategic decision about the collection of risks it’s most willing to assume, and to choose accordingly — with an eye at all times toward giving Jackson a chance to see that there’s no one willing to give Jackson the kind of guarantees that the Ravens decline to provide.

14 responses to “What will Ravens do about Lamar Jackson’s contract?

  1. Yeah… I feel like Deshaun Watson’s 2022 is a good example of why teams aren’t going to be willing to offer guaranteed 5 year contracts anymore.

  2. It’s possible the Colts or Texans might be desperate enough to give him the full five years, but I doubt it.

    The problem is that his team needs to base their offense entirely around him, and then they need at least two backups who can fit into that scheme.

    Lamar hasn’t finished the last two years healthy, and he’s never won a playoff game. He’s missing the playoffs this year, and he got completely shut down by the Bills last year. His case for deserving 5 guaranteed years isn’t very strong.

  3. It’s understandable that Jackson would think he should get a deal at least as good as Deshaun Watson’s. It’s hard to get a guy to understand that that was just the Browns doing Brown things; that nobody else would have done that deal. So now here we are, with Jackson having played and lost his game of chicken with the Ravens. He’ll likely never get as good a deal as the Ravens’ last offer.

  4. Tag him. If a team is willing to give up a high enough 1st round pick, take the deal and draft a new QB. Ride Huntley and Brown until the new guy is ready. Get a couple wideouts too. If no trade offers come in, get a couple WRs and see how the season goes.

  5. Smart thing is to go with the Non exclusive tag. Worst case is they get stuck with Lamar on the cheaper tag or a cheaper contract match. Best case is someone else offers him what he wants and the Ravens get two number one picks to find a replacement who can play the whole year and play from the pocket more.

  6. If Lamar is smart which is debateable it’s possible he has injury insurance. Maybe this is his way of getting paid at least half of what he was shooting for and not having any more wear and tear. Of course if he takes the payout he will never be able to play pro football again. Ha.

  7. You know at least the fact that Jackson turned down their best offer in the story, too many outlets leave out that and they act like they didn’t want to pay him. For better or worse the Raven did exactly what they needed to do, so now the next step happens. I am sure the have thought about this for a long time, hence not giving him a guaranteed contract. It is called forward thinking.

  8. I hope Lamar gets every penny and even if he gets less he won – you wanted him to play corner or all purpose and he is 45-16 as a starter he isnt vince young and don’t let these people fool you on blogs – as if teams don’t cater to a players strength – been 4 years and I don’t love everything about every QB – harbaugh cost them at least 3 games last year and a few this year – crickets….

  9. 45-16 as a starter. And just how many games in total didn’t he start? You’re missing that critical stat plus the fact he lost the only play-off game he was in.

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