The general assumption at this point is that any first-round quarterback who has established himself as the franchise guy without off-the-field issues is going to get a long-term contract extension by the time he is heading into his fourth season. While there was pre-established precedent for this, the recent deals for Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen kind of solidified that model.
Yet Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens sort of bucked that trend—something he’s not unfamiliar with doing. He has already rewritten the rulebook regarding how successful a runner a quarterback can be while still excelling. And he means to do things on his own when it comes to his money, being one of the few players in general, let alone high-profile players, who represent themselves.
Even though he was coming off excellent back-to-back seasons, Jackson was willing to play out the 2021 season without a new contract. He had a down year this past season, including on the health front, but it’s hard to imagine him playing out his fifth-year option without a new deal.
But when will that come? Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta addressed that question yesterday at the Combine, saying that they had just recently had conversations with Jackson regarding his contract status, but that it would ultimately work “at Lamar’s urgency”, via ESPN.
“I think it takes two sides to actively put their heads together and get a deal worked out”, he added, regarding the future progress of the negotiations. “We are ready to be there for Lamar at any point when he decides that he really wants to work on it, we will be”.
Of course, there is no real urgency to get anything done right now. The Buffalo Bills and Josh Allen did not come to terms on their six-year, $258 million extension until August 6 a year ago. The Kansas City Chiefs did get Mahomes under contract a bit earlier, agreeing to a 10-year, $450 million contract on July 6 in 2020.
But it’s the beginning of March and we’re at the NFL Scouting Combine. Players haven’t even started working out yet. We’re not even in the new league year, hitting free agency, let alone the draft. Conversations will be had, but nothing will be agreed to for months.
Jackson is slated to receive a healthy bump in salary thanks to his fifth-year option, currently on the books at $23.016 million, which gives them plenty of room to work out a comfortable year-one cap number on any extension that may be reached.
He would surely crack the $40 million per year mark, which has been broached by three quarterbacks thus far—the two aforementioned, and Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys, who signed a four-year, $160 million contract in March of last year (though he was going to be a free agent, prior to being given the franchise tag).
I don’t think many Steelers fans will be complaining once Jackson does sign his extension. Everyone knows he isn’t going anywhere. We understand that. We just want to see the Ravens have to pay the price that comes with having a player like him and how that shapes the rest of your cap. Welcome to the franchise quarterback club…hope to rejoin you shortly.