Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson suffered a rather significant knee injury playing against the Denver Broncos in week 13 of the 2022 season. That would mark the last time that he took the field last year—and some wonder if it might have been his last game in a Ravens uniform.
Jackson traveled the following week with the team as it played the Pittsburgh Steelers but was not present for their final three road games, including a postseason loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, games that were started by Tyler Huntley.
His presence—or rather absence—during this time was a subject of much debate and speculation. There was never a definitive given regarding why he was not traveling with the team. Jackson has recently begun commenting publicly about his contract status and rumors about him, and this subject came up.
“After I traveled to the Pittsburgh game my PCL got inflated so a few of us discussed it and I got the ok to stay so I could try [to] recover faster”, he wrote in response to one fan’s question regarding his location during the games in question.
Many speculated that he chose to be absent either as an indication of his deteriorating relationship with the organization and/or his teammates, or as a symbolic gesture pointing to his pending free agency status for the 2023 season. The injury explanation seems the simplest.
I’m not a doctor, but I imagine that it might be advisable for a player whose intention is to return to play that season might be inclined not to travel when his injured PCL is experiencing swelling. Unfortunately for Jackson, he did not recover well enough in time to play again.
Jackson was responding to remarks made by members of other organizations around the league who were either questioning his viability as a long-term starter due to his recent injuries or indeed questioning how injured he was last year.
“Let’s get real. I [would] rather have a 100% PCL than go out there and play horrible forcing myself to put my guys in a bad situation”, he wrote in one tweet. “Now that’s selfish to me”. It is worth noting that there were some Twitter posts that he deleted, some of which commented on his injury status at the time. In one, he suggested that he would have played even if his knee were at 90%.
The fact that he doesn’t have am NFLPA-certified agent representing him probably makes it a lot more difficult for him to communicate all of these things to the teams he might hope would pursue him. He announced himself that he requested to be traded several weeks ago.
That said, it has also been reported that he and the Ravens have continued to negotiate contract details since then, as recently as last week. The indications are that his trade request is tied entirely to his salary demands rather than any discontent with the organization. It also helps that they would actually know better than anybody else what his health is like.