One of the most unusual negotiations that figures to take place this offseason is the conversation in Baltimore as the Ravens try to extend the contract of quarterback Lamar Jackson. No, it’s not because he’s coming off of a down season, nor because we saw how much worse the team is without him.
It’s because of who his agent is—himself. Jackson, a former MVP, is arguably the biggest name to represent himself in contract negotiations in recent NFL history, and that does include some rather notable names such as wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and cornerback Richard Sherman.
And we know it’s going to be an “unusual negotiation”, because that’s exactly the phrase that Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta used to describe it recently—and precisely for the reason that it’s a player who is acting as his own agent, which front offices have generally little experience with, let alone at the top of the market.
“What I can say is that Lamar and I have had, probably, I don’t know, five or six conversations at different points over the last year in regard to his contract”, DeCosta said. “I would say that we’re working at Lamar’s pace. He’s comfortable where we are right now. I think he feels that we have a lot of unfinished business”, he added, speaking about team goals.
In many cases, if not most, when there’s an obvious franchise quarterback in place playing under a rookie contract, even if it’s a first-round contract with a fifth-year option, teams tend to get an extension done with that player as he is heading into year four. The Ravens chose not to do that with Jackson, for whatever reason, perhaps desiring not to.
“There’s a great line of communication. I know that Lamar knows he can come up to see me at any point”, the general manager added. “He can call me at any point; we actually talked this week. He can text me at any point. We will operate based on his urgency. So, that’s basically where we stand”.
Right now, Jackson is scheduled to play under his fifth-year option, which is valued at $23,106,000 for 2020. That’s nothing to sneeze at, but it goes without saying that a top-10 quarterback at the age of 25 is going to command more than that.
Following Tom Brady’s retirement, there are 14 quarterbacks whose contracts pay them an average of $25 million per season or more. The position’s pay scale drops sharply right after that, however, as the next-highest mark for a player who will actually be under contract in 2022 on their current deal is Taysom Hill, but that’s a curiously-structured contract that can change drastically depending on the position he plays, essentially. Below that is Trevor Lawrence, the most recent first-overall pick, averaging just under $10 million.
It’s fair to speculate that Jackson will be looking to be near the top of the market, and there are three quarterbacks making at least $40 million per season. Another seven average at least $30 million or more.