OWINGS MILLS, Md. – One day after the Ravens’ campaign ended with a 24-17 wild card loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson He kicked off a season of uncertainty by sharing a screenshot of a cryptic quote from an unknown source on Instagram.
“When you have something good, don’t play with it,” the quote began. “You don’t risk losing it. You don’t neglect it. When you have something good, you pour into it. You appreciate it. Because when you take good care of something, that good thing takes care of you, too.”
It’s the kind of thing this post does that has fueled speculation about Jackson’s future in Baltimore. What is clear is that there are only three ways to end this: Jackson – who has no agent – signs a long-term deal; put the mark on it; Or trade it in, a scenario that would have been unimaginable just a few months ago.
Now that their season is over, the Ravens and Jackson can resume negotiations for a new deal. It had been more than four months since the Ravens announced that they could not come to an agreement by the start of the regular season, which was a deadline set by Jackson himself, and there was a dramatic buildup to the impasse.
“Having spoken to Lamar and the people inside that organization, what I would say is that the relationship is salvageable,” Robert Griffin III, Jackson’s former assistant with the Crows, said on ESPN’s “Monday Night Countdown.”
How this situation unfolds will dominate the most defining season in Ravens history.
Option 1: Long-term deal
This is thought to be the least likely outcome, given that the two sides have been in contract talks for two years. Baltimore and Jackson have two months to complete the deal before the Ravens apply a franchise tag to prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent.
If the Ravens tag Jackson, both sides have until the NFL’s July 15 deadline for an extension. If an agreement is not reached by mid-July, Jackson will have to play the season under the mark.
Before contract talks were delayed, sources told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter that Jackson had turned down a five-year, $250 million Ravens extension, with $133 million guaranteed upon signing. That would have made Jackson the second highest paid quarterback in terms of annual average and money guaranteed upon signing.
But the sources added that team officials held back from Jackson’s desire for a fully guaranteed deal, similar to the one offered by the Cleveland Browns. Deshaun Watson for five years and $230 million.
In March, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti indicated that Watson’s record deal would make it more difficult in future contract talks with quarterbacks, before adding, “But that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to play this game, you know? We’ll see.” “
The deal would allow the Ravens to better promote the support staff around Jackson. His salary cap set on a long-term contract is likely to be between $20 million and $30 million in the first year. That would be at least $15 million less than the franchise’s exclusive tag, which can be used when signing free agents, such as a much-needed wide receiver.
But there didn’t seem to be much hope of a long-term deal unless the Ravens fulfilled Jackson’s request for a fully guaranteed contract or Jackson backed out of the position.
Option 2: Franchise Mark
This outcome is considered the most likely, since Baltimore would not allow Jackson access to free agency. The term for using the tag runs from February 21st to March 7th, and Baltimore can take two routes with the tag: non-exclusive or exclusive.
A non-exclusive tag is less expensive but reduces a team’s bargaining power because it allows Jackson to participate in contract talks with other teams. If Jackson signs an offer sheet with another team, the Ravens have the right to match the offer or two first-round picks as compensation.
A non-exclusive tag is more appropriate at $30 million to $35 million, but perhaps not feasible if Baltimore thinks it can get more than two first-round picks for Jackson.
The Ravens are expected to use the exclusive label, which has a higher price tag but allows Baltimore to control the trade talks. That’s what happened last season with a wide receiver Davant Adams, who was flagged down by the Green Bay Packers and then dealt to the Las Vegas Raiders 10 days later. And just like Adams, the Ravens will need Jackson to sign his tender before trading him because the team can’t handle a non-contract player. So, Jackson has a say in where he goes because he can veto any deal by refusing to sign his franchise tender.
The exclusive mark is steep — $45 million is expected for Jackson — but the Ravens can set the asking price if teams are interested in acquiring Jackson, and Baltimore is interested in dealing him. The problem with the Ravens is that they have just over $40 million in salary cap space, and Baltimore should be under the cap at the start of the new league year (March 15).
In order to get Jackson’s exclusive under the hood, Baltimore will have to create space by releasing or negotiating pay cuts with the likes of the defensive end. Cale Campbell ($7 million in savings cap if reduced), back off Gus Edwards ($4.4 million) and safety Chuck Clark ($3.6 million). The Ravens still have a little room to address the gaps in the roster with Jackson on the exclusive tag.
With the tag, the Ravens may see fewer Jacksons even in the most recent season. Jackson only came to the compulsory mini-camp in June last year, and missed volunteer workouts in May and June for the first time in his five-year career. If Jackson does not sign a franchise tender this year, he is technically not under contract and is not required to attend any informal spring practices or training camp. Most players eventually play under the sign, but then Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell in the 2018 season sat down to protest the sign.
It is rare for teams to use the tag on a franchise quarterback. In the previous ten seasons, the tag had only been awarded to two: Kirk Cousins (2016 and 2017), who was with Washington at the time, and the Dallas Cowboys Duck Prescott (2020 and 2021), according to ESPN Stats & Info. Prescott eventually signed a long-term extension with the Cowboys, while Cousins hit free agency and signed a landmark deal with the Minnesota Vikings.
Option 3: Trade
Just the suggestion of trading Jackson would have raised eyebrows before the season.
In March, prior to Watson’s trade, Ravens general manager Eric D’Costa said Jackson was a player who could help Baltimore win multiple Super Bowls. In September, Coach John Harbaugh said, “He’s going to play quarterback here for a long time.”
However, Jackson failed to finish the season for the second year in a row due to injuries. He’s been sidelined in 10 of Baltimore’s past 22 games (including the playoffs).
And if the Crows are convinced they can’t make a deal for Jackson, they’ll have to consider trading him either this season or later. It’s hard to believe that Baltimore would let Jackson play the next two seasons under the mark, striking free agency in 2025 and settling for a compensatory third-round pick in return.
It is not known how much capital the Baltimore venture could accumulate by doing business with Jackson. Last year, the Seattle Seahawks received two first-round picks and two second-round draft picks from the Denver Broncos for the then 33-year-old. Russell Wilson. The market value should be much higher for Jackson, who turned 26 earlier this month.
Houston traded Watson and a 2024 sixth-round pick to the Browns in exchange for first-round picks in 2022, 2023, and 2024; a third-round pick in 2022; and a fourth round in 2024.
For what it’s worth, neither the Broncos nor the Browns got a positive return on investment in the first year after their massive QB deals. Wilson struggled all season—his 27th with a 37.0 QBR—while the Broncos won only five games and fired first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett. Watson played just six games after serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy by committing sexual assault, as defined by the NFL, on massage therapists. He threw seven touchdowns and five interceptions and finished with a 38.3-qr record.
Trading Jackson would represent an unprecedented move in the NFL. There have been nine deals involving quarterbacks in the NFL – from Roman Gabriel in 1969 to Matt Ryan Last season – and nothing was dealt with when he was under 30.
Jackson’s teammates can’t stand seeing him go elsewhere in the off-season.
“All I know is that I want Lamar to play here with me as long as I play,” he said. Ronnie Stanley He said. “I have complete faith that they are going to be working on something.”