As you may know, we’ve been fascinated by the possibility that the Commanders have been lurking for a chance to pounce on Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. With Baltimore using the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson, any other team can talk to Jackson (as of today) and sign him to an offer sheet.
The Commanders, coincidentally (or not), created nearly $10 million in extra cap space on Sunday, by signing franchise-tagged defensive tackle Daron Payne to a long-term deal. They now have the ability to make a play for Jackson.
The Ravens also have the ability to match any offer sheet. The question becomes whether the Commanders would indeed give Jackson the five-year, fully-guaranteed contract he wants — and whether the Ravens would reluctantly exercise their right to take Washington’s place.
We’ve laid out the reasons why it makes sense for Washington to do it. One question that some have posted relates to the funding rule. Would Snyder be able or willing to write a massive check for money that would be set aside, as an official guarantee that the contractual guarantees will be paid?
But here’s the key. The bill for the escrow payment wouldn’t become due until March 31, 2024. If Snyder sells the team by then, the buyer would be the one paying that bill.
Others have asked whether it would impact the sale price for the Commanders. Given the fact that the NFL has both a salary cap and a salary floor, the player payroll dollars will be spent. And if getting the team means inheriting a major contract with a rare talent, oh well. The new owner will find a way to tolerate that complication.
Setting aside book values and other mathematical wizardry, NFL franchises are worth whatever someone will pay for them — and the asset is constantly appreciating. With NFL teams rarely available to be purchased, the existence of a fully-guaranteed contract for a franchise quarterback will not be an impediment to any attempt by Washington to land Lamar.
Ultimately, the biggest impediment could be Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti. Would he match a fully-guaranteed offer made by Snyder, simply because it’s Snyder? Beyond the general acrimony and rancor that multiple owners have for Snyder, a fully-guaranteed, five-year offer sheet from the Commanders would give Bisciotti cover with partners who could otherwise be as pissed at Bisciotti this year as they were at Browns owner Jimmy Haslam in 2022.