Lamar Jackson’s contract extension is the Ravens’ major offseason project. And according to Jeremy Fowler (ESPN), this project has no certain outcome. To the point of seeing Jackson leave the Ravens?
If negotiations had already taken place during the past off-season, they had not resulted in a new contract. On the first day of the regular season, as he had announced, Lamar Jackson had stopped negotiations and stopped dealing with the subject to focus on the field.
The main blocking point, according to Fowler, is the guaranteed amount in the contract (salary received by the player regardless of what happens next).
In the summer of 2022, the Ravens had offered a 5-year contract for 250 million dollars, of which 133 million guaranteed. A contract in the waters of those signed by Russell Wilson (242 million including 124 guaranteed) or Kyler Murray (230 million including 103 guaranteed), but refused by Lamar Jackson.
Lamar Jackson would like a fully guaranteed contract, like the one signed by Deshaun Watson in Cleveland ($ 230 million over 5 years, fully guaranteed), while the Ravens would be quite cold to this idea, and in particular because the style The quarterback’s double-threat game exposes him more to injuries (13 games missed since 2019 already).
Ravens who don’t seem ready to give in to demand, according to an unnamed franchise executive.
“Just because the Browns were desperate doesn’t mean the Ravens are. They are a stable franchise. They’re not going to break the bank just because Cleveland did. »
In the absence of compromise, we could then move, on the side of the Ravens, towards the exclusive franchise tag to keep Lamar once again. An option used for example by Washington to keep Kirk Cousins a few years ago. An expensive option, which would weigh up to 45 million dollars in the payroll (the sum of which for the 53 players must be, at most, 225 million next season. The tag would therefore consume almost 20% of the total payroll for a single player).
So are we about to see Lamar Jackson wear another tunic than the Ravens? A Ravens executive, anonymously, responds.
“Several months ago, I would have said ‘Impossible’ for Lamar to be traded. But now it feels like anything could happen. »
Another option for the franchise would then be to use the non-exclusive franchise tag. With this option, other teams could offer Jackson a contract, but would also have to spend two first rounds of picks to snatch him from Baltimore. An unlikely scenario according to another leader of an NFC franchise, who remained anonymous.
“There are always teams looking for quarterbacks, so there are bound to be people interested, especially in teams where the coach and the general manager need to win right away. But when you add up everything that will have to be let go, the amount of the contract to be offered, and the questions about his physical problems, that’s a lot. »
The offseason promises to be decisive in Maryland.