Quarterbacks get paid, period. At least, as long as they’re perceived as starters. And in some ways, they have more power than ever before, yet at the same time it comes at the same time that teams find their quarterbacks less indispensable—surely offset by the stellar packages they can receive in return.
Nothing better illustrates that than the Deshaun Watson trade, which on the one hand recouped three first-round picks and additional resources for the Houston Texans, and for the player, a landmark five-year, fully-guaranteed $230 million contract.
Don’t think every other quarterback with a deal coming up and their agents (if they have one, cough cough) aren’t paying attention. It’s their job to pay attention. And understandably, what the Cleveland Browns did at the quarterback position has made many wonder how Lamar Jackson’s contract status with the Baltimore Ravens would be resolved.
All offseason, thus far, the theme has been working at Jackson’s pace—which as been that of a snail. At the annual league meeting, in fact, team owner Steve Bisciotti even seemed to express some doubt that he’s fully convinced Jackson intends to sign a long-term extension this offseason, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN, saying that he doesn’t foresee the quarterback agreeing to an extension before the start of the season “unless he has a change of heart”.
Jackson, for his part, did shoot down any speculation that his lack of a rush to sign a new deal in any way indicated this feelings toward the Ravens organization. “I love my Ravens”, he said in a tweet; “I don’t know who the hell putting that false narrative out that I’m having thoughts about leaving stop tryna read my mind”.
At first blush, it would seem remarkable, but as somebody who represents himself as his own agent, he’s obviously a player who is inclined to bet on himself, and if he believes he can better his bargaining power next year or two years, or even three years down the line, I suppose we shouldn’t rule that out.
“Kirk Cousins did it that way. What if Lamar says that?”, he said, referring to the Minnesota Vikings quarterback, who turned down what he considered insufficient extension offers, playing under the franchise tag twice to increase his bargaining power and then landing a three-year, fully-guaranteed contract on the other side of it.
“’I’ll play on the fifth year, I’ll play on the franchise, I’ll play on another franchise and then you can sign me’”, Bisciotti added, speaking hypothetically as Jackson. “And that gives me three years to win the Super Bowl so you can make me a $60 million quarterback, because that’s where it will be four years from now. That might be the case, but I don’t talk to Lamar. It’s not my role. I don’t know the answer”.
The Ravens and Jackson certainly view themselves as a team on the verge of a Super Bowl. They are only three years removed from a 14-2 season. They won a postseason game in 2020. They were in position to secure the number one seed in 2021, even amid a litany of injuries, before Jackson’s late-season injury steamrolled their chances.
Baltimore ended last season on a six-game skid, the worst losing streak of the John Harbaugh era, whom they just signed to a three-year contract extension. Jackson is playing out his fifth-year option, and is currently slated to be a free agent in 2023 after coming off of his worst season. Does he really want to re-sign now, when he knows that he if plays the way he expects to play, they will do anything it takes to retain him after the season?