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Robert Griffin III: Relationship between Lamar Jackson, Ravens is “salvageable”

Mike Florio and Chris Simms debate where Lamar Jackson and the Ravens go from here after Jackson's injury kept him out of Baltimore's playoff showdown in Cincinnati.

Agents negotiate contracts. They do other things, too. Or, as the case may be, they don’t -- if a player doesn’t have one.

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson currently doesn’t have an agent. At a time when it feels as if the situation between Jackson and the Ravens is coming to a head -- and it seems as if Jackson is being painted in some circles as the villain for not playing in the playoffs against the Bengals -- Jackson would benefit from an agent who could tap into a network of contacts to paint a picture that’s more favorable to the player’s overall interests.

Without that, Jackson has to rely on the people he knows. For example, he spent three years in Baltimore with quarterback Robert Griffin III, who has a spot on ESPN’s Monday night pregame coverage. Early in the show preceding tonight’s Cowboys-Buccaneers game, Griffin addressed the Jackson situation.

“What I can say is that I talked to people in the building today,” Griffin said, “and this relationship is salvageable.”

Griffin, who never really explained why or how it’s salvageable, also addressed the fact that Jackson wasn’t present at last night’s game in Cincinnati.

“The reason Lamar Jackson didn’t travel to the football game was because he was sick. They diagnosed this, said that he was sick, he didn’t go on the trip.”

Griffin’s most significant comments related to the fact that some believe Jackson didn’t play in the playoffs because he doesn’t have a long-term deal.

“This narrative about Lamar Jackson that people are weaponizing, saying he didn’t go out there on the field because he wasn’t willing to put it on the line for his teammates or he wants a new contract, I just feel like that’s wrong,” Griffin said.

This doesn’t change the fact that Lamar possibly would have played with the PCL injury in his knee if he had his long-term contract. That’s what people in and around the team believe, including players. (Not all, but some.)

The problem is that Lamar doesn’t have a long-term deal because he refused the team’s best offer, insisting instead on a five-year fully-guaranteed deal. A good agent could have gone a long way toward resolving that impasse. A good agent could go a long way toward running interference for Jackson currently, now that things have gone sideways.

Griffin insisted on multiple occasions that the situation is being “weaponized” to make it look like Lamar isn’t playing because of his contract situation. But the argument shouldn’t be that the situation is being “weaponized” against him. The argument should be that football entails a wide range of physical risks, and that he should not be expected to assume those risks if he doesn’t believe he’s truly and fully 100 percent, without the long-term financial security he has earned but not yet received.

There’s a way to make that case without being selfish. A good agent could do that far better than Griffin did it on Monday night.

It’s easy for Griffin to say that Jackson shouldn’t play with a sprained PCL because Griffin once tried to play with “no ACL and no LCL” and it ended badly for him. It’s harder to properly spell out why an elite player with long-term financial security is comfortable assuming enhanced physical risk in a sport where, by January, no one is 100 percent -- and why an elite player without that long-term financial security isn’t.

If Jackson had an agent, he could rely on the agent to spread that message. Then again, if Jackson had an agent, Jackson would have already had a long-term contract. And he quite possibly would have played last night, with a PCL sprain.