The contract drama around the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson could have an effect on the upcoming mega-deals expected for some of the NFL’s top quarterbacks.
Last week, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith reported that those in Jackson’s camp said the quarterback did not want a fully guaranteed contract, which is in opposition of what everyone was made to believe a month ago. Going that route could also have a ripple effect on the next star QBs looking for new deals, according to NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith.
In a January interview on the “Pivot Podcast”, Smith gave some insight about the weight guaranteed contracts now hold in the league and what Jackson getting one would mean.
“This is a pivotal moment because right behind Lamar, as talented as he is, think about the number of quarterbacks coming up right behind him, right. We saw them play last night. We saw them play this weekend. We saw one play in the Super Bowl last year,” Smith said. “All of those guys are coming behind him on those free agent contracts. So, literally the weight of whether we move forward on guaranteed contracts [is] now. You’ve got the [DeShaun] Watson contract that could be bookended by Lamar’s contract.”
Jackson, 26, has shown his desire to stay with his first and only NFL team. In January, he posted cryptic social media messages indicating his desire to stay in Baltimore and his frustration behind how things have been handled.
On his Instagram story, Jackson shared a post that read “When you have something good, you don’t play with it. You don’t take chances losing it. You don’t neglect it. When you have something good, you pour into it. You appreciate it. Because when you take care of something good, that good thing takes care of you too.”
Jackson, who represents himself, reportedly rejected an $133 million guaranteed contract offer before the 2022 season. The five-year extension would have made him more money than fellow league quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson.
Guaranteed contracts may leave the league with Jackson as the victim if terms for a new deal cannot be settled. In the event there is no long-tern solution and Ravens don’t use the franchise tag to keep him by March 7, the two-time Pro Bowler and 2019 MVP will become an unrestricted free agent when the new year begins on March 16.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo also reported in February that the Ravens could end up trading Jackson for a “windfall of draft picks.”
Before Jackson’s PCL sprain from a hit in Week 13 against the Denver Broncos, he was stellar under center, leading the Ravens to an 8-4 record. He threw for 2,242 yards, completing 62.3 percent of his passes, and he recorded 17 touchdowns for the season.
Backup quarterback Tyler Huntley carried the Ravens for the remaining four regular season games and started in their season-ending wild-card playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals 24-17.