With the NFL’s preseason now officially over, the countdown has begun…not simply the countdown until the start of the regular season, but also, apparently, for the Baltimore Ravens to complete a contract extension with quarterback Lamar Jackson.
And it’s Jackson who’s watching the hourglass. The former MVP, who represents himself, has said in the recent past that he would not negotiate a new contract while in-season, because he wants his focus to be on the game. Well, quite soon he will be doing intensive game-planning for his first opponent after not playing at all in the preseason.
The Ravens had been publicly calling him to the table to discuss contract business throughout the entirety of the offseason. It doesn’t appear as though he seriously entertained these desires until the start of training camp. And we don’t really have any idea where we are.
The team reportedly offered Jackson a contract worth more than what the Arizona Cardinals recently gave Kyler Murray, which amounted to a five-year extension averaging $46.1 million. That was evidently not enough to get him to sign at the time, according to Jay Glazer via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
Florio also quoted Glazer as saying that it was an “uphill battle” in order to get a deal done. The seemingly lack of urgency on Jackson’s part seemingly continues to confound people, though I think the explanation may be rather simple.
As exemplified throughout his career, including in his decision to serve as his own agent, Jackson is simply the type of person who is always willing to bet on himself. It’s quite possible, perhaps even correct, that he would profit more, financially, by playing out this season, having a better year, and forcing the issue in 2023.
Due to play under the fifth-year option in 2022 absent a new contract, he will still be handsomely rewarded by any but the most vulgar measures, due just over $23 million, vastly more than the vast majority of us will ever see in our lifetime.
In other words, he’s certainly not hurting, and we’ve seen other players more willing to ‘gamble’ on themselves in the hopes of a better contract offer when they already feel financially secured. Is that what we’re seeing right now with Jackson’s situation? It is the simplest explanation, but is it the right one?
One person I know who strongly feels the Ravens need to get a new deal done with Jackson is the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Cameron Heyward, who has gone on record multiple times to state that he wants Baltimore to experience the salary cap navigation process when they have the contract of a franchise quarterback anchored around their proverbial necks.
Or maybe he’s simply using the pressure of time to rush the Ravens to the table with their best offer.