What exactly is the deal with the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson, specifically in terms of getting the former MVP signed to a long-term contract? Well, as we’ve known for quite some time now, the ball is firmly in Jackson’s court. The Ravens, particularly general manager Eric DeCosta, have repeatedly expressed a preparedness to get a deal done now, and even offered a hint of frustration that Jackson hasn’t been in a rush to get to the negotiating table.
Nothing has changed, apparently. Jeremy Fowler of ESPN recently published an Insider article looking into the contract status of a number of high-profile players this offseason—the overall takeaway is that he’s not convinced that Jackson actually wants to get a contract extension done this year.
“Jackson and the Ravens have been at a standstill for quite some time”, he writes. “Baltimore is prepared to do a deal, but Jackson hasn’t forced the issue — and has even dodged it, as he would an open-field tackler. He’s either incredibly patient or he wants to get to free agency”.
That last line is certainly interesting, although I hasten to note that wanting to get to free agency doesn’t mean wanting to leave Baltimore. Fowler goes on to highlight how the quarterback market has ballooned over the past year or two, noting the Deshaun Watson deal with the Cleveland Browns at five years, $230 million (fully guaranteed).
“As a former MVP with 105 total touchdowns and an astounding 37-12 record as a starter, Jackson can justify at least asking for something in the ballpark” of Watson’s deal, he contends, though he also points out that Jackson is coming off of a down year—even if the surrounding talent that he had to deal with in 2021 was largely to blame, and the team fell apart without him.
It seems to me unimaginable that Jackson would get out of Baltimore, or that he would want to. The idea that he isn’t overly motivated to get a contract extension done this year, however, seems to me plausible.
Jackson is a bet-on-yourself kind of guy, and I’m sure he believes he’s going to have his best season yet in 2022. Why not wait, when you also have the double whammy of the threat of the open market, to get a deal done—when the salary cap is even higher still?
For the moment, he is set to earn about $22 million this season under his fifth-year option value, which is still a good chunk of change, to be certain. The Ravens would have to franchise tag him next February, surely, and work on negotiating a new deal for however long it might take—at Jackson’s dictation, as always.