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Ravens could be facing a Lamar Jackson franchise-tag dilemma in 2023

The Ravens continue to project optimism about locking Lamar Jackson up long-term, but Mike Florio and Charean Williams think that the 2019 MVP is setting himself up for disaster by refusing to come to the table.

Ten year after giving quarterback Joe Flacco a record-setting deal in lieu of making the difficult decision between applying the exclusive and non-exclusive version of the franchise tag, the Ravens may not get a chance to give quarterback Lamar Jackson a record-setting deal before picking a tag level. If Jackson isn’t going to sign a long-term deal, the Ravens will have to apply the franchise tag in 2023.

So here’s the next question. Which version of the franchise tag will the Ravens apply?

The non-exclusive version was $29.7 million in 2022. If the salary cap increases by 15 percent for 2023, the non-exclusive tender will land in the range of $34 million. The exclusive version will be driven by the average of the five highest cap numbers at the position in 2023. Based on current 2023 cap numbers, that would be $45.4 million.

The difference is significant. In 2024, it would become even sharper. With a 20-percent raise, the non-exclusive franchise tender would become $40.8 million. The exclusive tender would be $54.54 million. Over two years of the tag, that’s $74.8 million under the non-exclusive tag and nearly $100 million under the exclusive tag.

The practical difference is significant, too. The exclusive tender would keep Jackson off limits to other suitors. If the Ravens use the non-exclusive franchise tender, other teams would be able to set up visits with him. They can make him offers. They can sign him to an offer sheet. The Ravens can match it, or they can accept two first-round draft picks.

In early 2013, there were concerns that the Browns or Chiefs would have signed Flacco to an offer sheet that the Ravens couldn’t or wouldn’t match. In 2023, the Ravens may welcome the opportunity to have someone else do the negotiating for them, assuming that the offer sheet isn’t constructed to keep them from matching. They also may be happy to take a pair of first-round picks and be done with it, if they can’t get Jackson to engage them.