Last September, ESPN.com reported that Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson wants a fully-guaranteed contract. Last Friday, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith — citing a Thursday conversation with a member of Jackson’s camp — claimed on First Take that Jackson never demanded a fully-guaranteed deal.
Today, ESPN.com reiterated that Jackson does indeed want a fully-guaranteed contract.
“According to sources,” writes Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com, “Jackson wants a fully guaranteed deal like the one given to Deshaun Watson last year, and the Ravens have been reluctant to offer that because they believe Watson’s deal is more of an outlier than a precedent.”
The latest report makes the information given to Smith even more confusing. Perhaps the most plausible explanation is that, by telling Smith that Jackson never wanted a fully-guaranteed deal, Jackson’s camp may be hinting at a willingness to take something less than a fully-guaranteed deal, either in ongoing negotiations with the Ravens or in the form of an offer sheet, if the Ravens apply the non-exclusive franchise tag before next Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET.
However it plays out, the Ravens have fewer than six days to work out a deal with Jackson before the time comes to apply one of the two levels of the franchise tag. And the time also is coming for Jackson to negotiate a deal, with someone.
Already, he has lost at least one and perhaps two years of earnings under his second contract. If he’d had one of the top quarterback agents, he’d quite possibly have signed a second contract in 2022 or 2021.
Saving a fee or one or two percentage points means nothing if the pie is never baked. For Jackson, the pie has been delayed for two years — and the money he could have made about the final two years of his rookie contract is never coming back.
Finally, to those who think we’re anti-Lamar for pointing out that he should hire an agent to navigate the murky waters of negotiating a complex and nuanced contract worth a quarter billion dollars or more with the Ravens or some other team, here’s the simple truth. If we were opposed to Lamar’s best interests, we’d sit back and say, “Everything’s working out perfectly. Keep it up.”