The Baltimore Ravens signed a player to a contract earlier this weekend that they are hoping they won’t live to regret—yet it may be chiefly through consummating another deal. After signing free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to a $15 million contract for one season worth up to $18 million, many believe the move was made to help the cause of signing quarterback Lamar Jackson to a long-term deal.
Indeed, it seemed to be revealed later on that Jackson was actively recruiting Beckham behind the scenes, and for the Ravens to sign him. They even quickly met up and partied together at a club, being introduced as Ravens teammates.
Jackson is currently not under contract, having had the non-exclusive franchise tender applied to him. He has been negotiating with the Ravens’ front office for well over a year without coming to terms. It’s beginning to seem as though the only resolution will come with Jackson walking back purported demands for a fully-guaranteed deal.
That appears to be the consensus conclusion beyond the obvious fact that no owner wants to give out such deals. “Lamar might not be the right player to fight this fight”, Stephen Holder for ESPN quotes one anonymous NFL general manager as saying in a recent article.
As you might expect, Holder says that the executive pointed out Jackson’s recent injury history, which has seen him miss extended time at the end of each of the past two seasons, including a postseason game in 2022. They missed the playoffs entirely in 2021 after going on an extended losing streak without him.
There are other obvious factors as well, more practically, it was noted. For one thing, he doesn’t employ an actual certified NFL agent. He largely represents himself, even if he has the resources of the NFLPA at his disposal, but they may not negotiate on his behalf.
There’s also the glaring fact that he’s not actually a free agent, but then again, neither was Deshaun Watson a year ago when the Cleveland Browns gave him a five-year, $230 million contract that was fully guaranteed.
Jackson can technically negotiate with teams now and sign an offer sheet, which the Ravens would be able to match or reject to do so. If they decided not to match the offer, they would lose Jackson and be compensated two first-round picks by the signing team.
It has been previously said that teams may be more likely to deal directly with the Ravens in orchestrating a trade for Jackson, as the Browns did with the Houston Texans last year, rather than going through the route of the offer sheet.
But the question remains whether or not any team would be willing to offer him a deal that is fully guaranteed, and if, failing that, he would have any interest in leaving the Ravens. The simple fact of the matter is that at some point he’s going to have to take the best deal he can get or get nothing. And it doesn’t seem any team is willing to do better than Baltimore.
They even overpaid for a beat-up wide receiver past his prime.