On Lamar Jackson’s contract, all options are on the table for Ravens
The situation between the Ravens and quarterback Lamar Jackson came to a head this week. After the season, the relationship could explode. Or implode.
Or everything could work out.
At this point, all options are on the table for the offseason. The Ravens intend to resume negotiations with Jackson whenever the playoff run ends. But those negotiations have gone nowhere in the past, for two important reasons. One, Jackson doesn’t have an agent (and he refuses to hire one). Two, Jackson has insisted on a five-year, fully-guaranteed deal.
The Ravens recently showed that they’re capable of working out a fair deal with an unrepresented player, via the contract done with linebacker Roquan Smith. Jackson, however, has refused all prior offers the team has made.
The contract signed by quarterback Deshaun Watson with the Browns cemented Jackson’s expectations for a five-year, fully-guaranteed deal of his own. But Watson created leverage, by telling the Texans he didn’t want to play for them again, by having them agree to trade him, and by working the various options to the point at which the Browns offered a package that most other teams won’t.
Jackson has yet to draw a line in the sand with the Ravens. After recent events, maybe he will.
If the Ravens and Jackson can’t work out a long-term deal, the Ravens will have to decide among the various options -- exclusive franchise tag (which could be as much as $45 million for one year), non-exclusive franchise tag (which could be in the range of $32 million for one year), or transition tag (roughly $30 million). They won’t let him simply become a free agent, even though that would be the ultimate test of his value on the open market.
So they’ll either keep him or they’ll get value for him. At this point, it’s very unclear what will happen.
Here’s what else is unclear. When it’s time to make another long-term offer to Jackson, will the Ravens offer the same? Will it be more? Or will it be less?
It could be less. Which would make it much harder to get a long-term deal done. And perhaps make it more likely that Jackson will tell the Ravens he wants out.