What’s subsequent for Lamar Jackson of Baltimore Ravens after contract talks finish? The choices, dangers and potential outcomes

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The Baltimore Ravens confirmed Friday they have been unable to succeed in a contract extension with quarterback Lamar Jackson, who will not be represented by an agent, placing the brakes on probably the most high-profile talks within the NFL till after the season, and growing the scrutiny each time Jackson takes the sphere.

When Jackson fires a game-winning landing go, the response will embrace how he elevated his worth and the way the Ravens dropped the ball by not getting an extension achieved. When Jackson commits a turnover or takes a giant hit, some will argue he ought to have signed a deal earlier than the season and that he price himself hundreds of thousands.

“He would not actually discuss it, so it hasn’t actually been a distraction,” Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey mentioned.

The Ravens’ focus is successful the AFC North and changing into the NFL’s newest staff to go from final place to first. It is occurred in 17 of the final 19 seasons, together with final 12 months when the Cincinnati Bengals went from a four-win season to the Tremendous Bowl.

As soon as the season is over, Baltimore’s problem shifts again to getting Jackson signed long-term. However within the meantime, questions abound.

Will Jackson get the franchise tag subsequent 12 months?

That is the place the Ravens and Jackson are headed except they’ll discover a compromise, though the 2 sides have been engaged on that for the final 20 months with out an settlement.

March 7 is the deadline for groups to make use of the franchise tag. If the perimeters cannot attain a deal by then, the Ravens must use the tag on a quarterback for the primary time within the franchise’s 27-year historical past to maintain Jackson from changing into an unrestricted free agent. Jackson would make $45 million in 2023 if he performs below the unique franchise tag.

That is uncommon territory for franchise quarterbacks. Within the earlier 10 offseasons, solely two have been given the tag: Kirk Cousins (2016 and 2017), who was with Washington on the time, and Dallas’ Dak Prescott (2020 and 2021), in keeping with ESPN Stats & Data. Prescott finally signed a long-term extension with the Cowboys whereas Cousins hit the free-agent market and signed a landmark take care of the Minnesota Vikings.

Historical past suggests Baltimore has time to keep away from inserting the tag on Jackson. A decade in the past, quarterback Joe Flacco declined the Ravens’ provide on a contract extension getting into his fifth 12 months, similar to Jackson. After Flacco led the Ravens to a Tremendous Bowl win, the staff signed him to a record-setting deal 25 days later (and three days earlier than the tag deadline).

If the Ravens are unable to succeed in an settlement with Jackson by March, they know they’ve contractual management over Jackson for the following two seasons with the tag.

How a lot of a danger is Jackson taking?

Jackson acknowledged that it was “a reasonably large danger” final season, as nicely, and that something can occur. “God forbid the improper factor occurs,” he mentioned.

However in 2020, Prescott suffered a big ankle damage whereas taking part in below the franchise tag and missed the ultimate 11 video games of the season. And the Cowboys nonetheless gave him a four-year, $160 million contract the following offseason.

The largest concern is Jackson’s type of play, which incorporates breaking lengthy runs and eluding pass-rushers. Robert Griffin III, who additionally was a dual-threat quarterback, was by no means the identical after he injured his proper knee on the finish of his rookie season in 2012.

Jackson has been sturdy throughout his first 4 seasons, regardless of taking an NFL-high 737 hits. The one time Jackson missed any video games as a consequence of damage was on the finish of final season, when he was sidelined the final 4 video games with a bruised proper ankle after dropping again and throwing a go.

The financial gamble is that this: 5 quarterbacks have signed for at the least $150 million in assured cash since Jackson was eligible for an extension. Jackson is assured $23.016 million this season below his fifth-year choice.

However ready has been a worthwhile technique to date for Jackson. Since he turned eligible for an extension final 12 months, 5 quarterbacks have signed offers which have exceeded $150 million in assured cash, and the highest common per 12 months for quarterbacks has jumped from $45 million (Patrick Mahomes) to $50.3 million (Aaron Rodgers).

How a lot of a danger are the Ravens taking?

The one gamble by not signing Jackson earlier than the season is the top quarterback value escalating much more.

In line with a Jackson tweet, the Ravens have not provided him $250 million assured. Deshaun Watson, who was dealing with 22 lawsuits on the time, alleging sexual assault and inappropriate conduct throughout therapeutic massage periods, obtained $230 million assured from the Cleveland Browns in March.

The final two franchise quarterbacks to signal contract extensions since Watson — Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson — each landed considerably much less assured cash, which provides to Baltimore’s perceived argument that Watson’s deal is an outlier. Murray obtained $189.5 million assured, and Wilson acquired $165 million.

By not reaching a long-term take care of Jackson now, the Ravens are primarily betting that Joe Burrow and the Chargers’ Justin Herbert will not reset the quarterback market. Each 2020 first-round picks are eligible for extensions after this season.

The Bengals and Chargers are identified for being traditionally conservative spenders. However the Bengals have signed their final two franchise quarterbacks to extensions (Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton), and the Chargers ranked fifth in money spending this 12 months. It would not be shocking if Burrow and/or Herbert signed long-term offers by this time subsequent 12 months. The large query is whether or not both will surpass Watson in assured cash.

What are the probabilities of the Ravens buying and selling Jackson subsequent offseason?

The Ravens would solely contemplate dealing Jackson in the event that they felt there was zero probability of finalizing a long-term deal. It is tough to assume Baltimore would let Jackson go the Cousins route — taking part in two seasons below the tag earlier than letting him hit free company in 2025 — and be content material with getting a third-round compensatory choose in return.

This offseason, the Broncos traded two first-round picks and two second-rounders to the Seahawks to amass 33-year-old Russell Wilson. Think about what the Ravens may get for Jackson, who would not flip 26 till Jan. 7.

The Ravens have one of many NFL’s high backups in Tyler Huntley, who practically led Baltimore to upsets over the eventual Tremendous Bowl champion Rams and Packers final season. Huntley, 24, is a restricted free agent subsequent offseason, so the Ravens need to decide on him, as nicely.

However buying and selling Jackson could be an unprecedented transfer. There have been 9 trades involving NFL MVP quarterbacks — from Roman Gabriel in 1969 to Matt Ryan this 12 months — and not one of the QBs have been dealt once they have been below the age of 30.

All through the negotiations, Ravens officers and Jackson have expressed a perception a deal will get achieved.

However Friday’s information signifies that optimism is on maintain for now.

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