Since entering the NFL, Lamar Jackson has been a dominant QB. A masterful rushing QB who can be just as dangerous throwing the ball, Lamar Jackson is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is currently skipping the voluntary OTA’s. A game of chess is likely being played between the star and the team but nonetheless there’s a lot to break down and look at in the Lamar Jackson contract situation.
Pay the Man
Sources close to the situation say that both sides are taking things slow. The Ravens, while patient, are the more eager of the two sides to get an extension figured out. Jackson knows that the franchise tag is an option for next season and possibly even the year after that but isn’t wavering.
The latest on the Lamar Jackson contract news is that Jackson wants MVP level pay (in the neighborhood of 43 million a year) to stay. The Ravens aren’t quite willing to go that high, at least yet. Given that Jackson is coming off his worst year statistically, including missing the last four games due to injury, the situation suddenly feels more complicated.
Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?
OK fine, last year was a down year for Jackson. Should a one year decline in stats dictate much of his price tag as he prepares for his fifth season in the NFL? Should Jackson insist on top tier money? Maybe? Maybe not?
As the Lamar Jackson contract issue heats up, there are other factors to consider. The Ravens aren’t committed to improving the team’s WR core, as demonstrated by shipping Jackson’s favorite, Hollywood Brown, to the Cardinals in a draft-day move. The team’s running back situation is a question mark, with neither JK Dobbins nor Gus Edwards healthy after season-ending injuries at the start of last season. They should be back relatively soon but all signs point to the team banking on Jackson being an elite rushing threat moving forward.
If you’re Lamar Jackson, you’re thinking about injuries and longevity in the league. Rushing QBs get banged up and can have a shorter than average career in the NFL. When you look at it from this perspective, Jackson wanting elite money makes sense. If the team wants him to be a one-man show and he’s possibly shortening his career, of course he should be paid handsomely for it. He might not have many huge contracts left in his future.
Or maybe after watching an off-season, where the Raiders went out and got Carr an elite weapon and the Dolphins got Tua an elite weapon, and even Cleveland spent capital on a top-tier WR— among others—Jackson is mad. Where is his Adams, Hill or even Cooper? Where is his Allen Robinson or Amari Cooper? If everyone else is out getting their franchise QBs studs to throw the ball to, why weren’t the Ravens doing the same?
Everyone Loves an Elite QB
The Ravens could possibly be using the stacked 2023 draft class as a negotiation tactic. “We can draft your replacement next year if you don’t sign”. Which is short-sided and stupid. The team knows that it won’t finish with a record poor enough to get a top pick and they equally know that it’s easier to pay the guy they already have, rather than gamble on a rookie and all the required time to groom said rookie into being an NFL starter.
But Jackson can play it cool and allow the Lamar Jackson contract debate to heat up. He can allow for QB needy teams to get their hopes up that he could possibly be a free agent in the next few years and put pressure on the Ravens to pay up, which they likely ultimately will.
Prior to this last NFL off-season, which saw a shocking amount of stars change teams, I wouldn’t have given any thought to the idea of Lamar Jackson possibly leaving the Baltimore Ravens in the next few years. I still don’t think he will to be clear but for now, we have a chess game playing out between the two sides that may not finish anytime soon.