Hopes remain that by the time you read this article, the Ravens would have done it but I’m not holding my breath. It’s time that the Ravens sort out the contract with Lamar Jackson.
I know it’s not easy and that the silly precedent set by divisional rivals the Browns hasn’t helped things. Latest reports are that the stumbling block is the level of guaranteed money included in the contract but there comes the point where the Raven’s just have to give in and pay the man. Working on guarantees vs total pay out and length of the contract would likely be the way to get it done – by making the contract shorter than the usual (say 2-3 years), it leaves more than a few windows open for Jackson to negotiate future deals whilst he’s in his prime.
What’s the realistic alternative? If there’s no agreement before kick off, Jackson has said it’ll have to wait until the end of the season. If they are still a ways apart the chances are very real that Jackson will be slapped with a franchise tag which will cost the Ravens around $34m for the year based on ProFootball Talk’s estimate. That will only increase and form the basis for any contract talks about guaranteed money for the future.
The Ravens have played this dance before with Flacco where he negotiated a league leading contract after leading the franchise to their second Super Bowl. It’s not inconceivable to believe that Lamar could do the same in 2022. If he plays at an MVP level again following a down year in 2021 then the money he gets could put Cleveland’s QB contract into insignificance.
The downside for the Ravens in not getting this done? Well there looks to be some decent QBs coming through in the draft in 2023. But their offence is built around Lamar Jackson and whilst some of those college QBs do possess some of his traits, there will need to be a level of adjustment needed. The Ravens with Jackson remain in a ‘win now’ mode for some time, do they want to go back to a partial rebuild?
There’s a downside for Lamar in not signing a new deal now. He’s effectively on a one season prove it deal in 2022. Contract negotiations are usually worked out with a heavy dose of ‘recency bias’ and 2021 wasn’t as good as previous years. If 2022 is bad or worse, he gets a severe injury it could leave him out of pocket if the Raven’s suddenly decide he’s too big a risk or else isn’t quite in that top echelons of quarterbacks. The looming risk of injury is a bigger issue on a single year deal – we discussed on the podcast this week that the way Jackson plays could leave him one horrible tackle away from the end of his career. Always going to be a risk, but a bigger risk if you’re only on a one year franchise tag based contract with no future money gauranteed.
It’s in everyone’s interest to get this deal done though probably weighed heavier on the Ravens side of the scale.