Lamar Jackson has never had an agent. He has always needed one.
He needs one now, more than ever.
Five years ago, the absence of an agent in the weeks preceding the draft allowed bullshit narratives and talking points about Jackson potentially changing positions to go unchecked, publicly or privately. For all the things that the Bill Polians of the world were saying into a microphone, agents representing other quarterbacks were surely bad-mouthing Jackson behind the scenes, in an effort to ensure that their own clients could be drafted higher. Jackson had no one protecting him against that dynamic and, to no surprise, he slid all the way to No. 32.
Now, as teams quickly slam the door on Jackson before he even approaches the porch, Jackson needs an agent to develop and execute a plan for using Jackson’s new status under the non-exclusive franchise tag to his advantage. As teams that are otherwise committed to due diligence for any and all competent players try to bury their heads in the sand as to Jackson, a skilled and connected agent can get their attention. A skilled and connected agent can explain to these teams the path to getting Lamar to sign an offer sheet that the Ravens perhaps wouldn’t or couldn’t match. A skilled and connected agent could work the media to create the impression, true or otherwise, that a bidding war will emerge for Jackson’s services. A truly skilled and connected agent could even get a team that truly isn’t interested in Jackson to feign interest as a favor, possibly getting some other team to come to the table.
If, as MDS pointed out, certain agents represented Lamar, certain national insiders with more than 10 million Twitter followers would be reporting that multiple teams are preparing a lucrative offer sheet for the quarterback. Whether that’s the truth or not simply would not matter.
These are all real benefits of having a good agent. And these are all activities unrelated to the actual negotiation of a contract. Players who choose to represent themselves think they’re saving money for services they don’t really need, without ever fully understanding the full breadth of the services that a good agent can and will provide.
It’s too late to undo the damage that has been done to Lamar’s interests by not having an agent. But he should resist the temptation to double (or triple) down on his decision, refusing to create the impression in hiring an agent now that he was wrong to not have one earlier. He should realize that he has little or no chance to get the long-term deal he has deserved for more than two years without an agent.
It’s clearly not the Ravens. They’ve shown they can do fair deals with a wide variety of players, and they recently signed self-represented linebacker Roquan Smith to a long-term deal. The problem is Lamar’s lack of an agent.
There’s another reason for Lamar to have an agent, beyond the upcoming free-agency process. A team that signs him presumably will want to keep him around for more than two or three years. At some point, his contract may need to be renegotiated or extended. Given the chronic and persistent struggles the Ravens have had when it comes to reaching any type of agreement with Lamar, teams may want to avoid those types of issues in the future.
For all these reasons and more, Lamar needs an agent. He has always needed one. Now, as he embarks on the ability to talk to other teams and to potentially negotiate a long-term contract, he needs an agent like never before.
Hopefully, someone who truly cares about Lamar and who has influence over him will get him to realize that, before he ends up without a long-term contract and having to decide between playing and not playing in 2023 for the insultingly low sum of $32.4 million.