Lamar Jackson has 16 regular season games, and however many playoff games the Ravens play in the 2020 season before the clock officially starts ticking on his contract extension.
No, it’s not too soon to start thinking about what that could look like.
The seemingly inevitable fifth-year option on Jackson’s future contract will be a bit different than previous fifth-year contracts.
“A first-round pick named to the Pro Bowl on the original ballot in one of his first three regular seasons will receive a fifth-year option equal to the transition tag at his position for the league year of the player's fourth year of his rookie deal,” according to nfl.com. “Those selected to two or more Pro Bowls in their first three seasons will receive a fifth-year option equal to the franchise tag applicable to his position in the player's fourth season.”
As it stands now, he’s set to make the equivalent to the transition tag at the position. Should he make another Pro Bowl in 2021, he’ll make the equivalent of the franchise tag.
The franchise tag for quarterbacks in the 2020 season was worth $26,824,000 while the transition tag was worth $24,837,000.
While it might seem far off in the distance, the days of a team-friendly deal for Jackson are going to come to an end rather quickly. He’s set to make just 1.3 percent, and then 1.4 percent, of the team’s salary cap in the next two seasons before the expected explosion.
And a look at past quarterback contracts could provide some useful tips.
Jared Goff, who signed a four-year deal worth $110 million total guaranteed will make 16.1, 14.3, 13.3 and 11 percent of the cap in the four years of his extension.
Carson Wentz, another 2016 draft choice, will make 16.1, 13.6, 14.2 and then 12.5 percent of the cap for his extension, a deal worth $107,870,683 total guaranteed. With Dak Prescott, Deshaun Watson and, most importantly, Patrick Mahomes’ extensions still to come, Jackson’s contract numbers still are a guessing game.
But with the league’s cap in total flux due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a thought that the salary cap — which once was expected to exponentially rise — could dip significantly in 2021.
While there’s little debate if Jackson performs as he did in 2019, or even in the same stratosphere, he’ll have a nice payday headed his way after his fourth season in the league.
That shouldn’t dissuade the Ravens from handing him a blank check.
Jackson’s status as one of the league’s top earners shouldn’t concern the Ravens or their fans. Good quarterbacks win Super Bowls, not cheap quarterbacks. If Jackson’s play doesn’t fall off a cliff, there shouldn’t be any worry about giving him the keys to the Ravens’ kingdom.
With a cap percentage number that could exceed 15 percent annually, Jackson won’t come cheap. But it will be worth it for the Ravens.
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