There’s no question Lamar Jackson is a superstar. The former NFL MVP quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens is a sensational runner that reminds onlookers of Michael Vick. He plays with ferocity and runs with lightning-fast speed, outrunning and shedding defenders as he gallops towards the end zone.
Lamar vs. Baltimore
But now he’s facing an uphill battle. In last year’s offseason, the former Pro Bowler made it clear he wanted the Ravens to pay him big money. The Cleveland Browns had recently traded for Deshaun Watson and paid him a fully-guaranteed contract worth $230 million. Seeing the controversy surrounding Watson, Jackson understandably believed he deserved comparable pay.
The Ravens were hesitant to pay him such money. Despite incredible talent, Jackson only has one playoff win under his belt and has failed to lead his team to deep playoff runs. That is the main argument for Baltimore not to pay him that kind of money.
Nonetheless, the Ravens did offer him a contract: $230 million with $133 million guaranteed. Lamar turned it down, indicating he was serious about fully-guaranteed money. He did not want negotiations to interfere with the season, however, so he paused contract talks as the 2022 regular season began.
Lamar had a solid year, notching 203 completions for 2,242 yards, 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He also grabbed 764 rushing yards on 112 carries, including 3 touchdowns. These numbers pale in comparison to the rest of the league, though, as Jackson’s season was cut short due to injury. His time away from the field reignited speculations about contract negotiations, many theorizing he was embellishing his injury to prove how badly the Ravens need him. The Ravens earned 8 wins and 4 losses with Jackson on the field this past season, but just 2 wins and 3 losses with him off.
On the Market
These numbers prove how important Jackson is to the Ravens franchise and how he can contribute to any organization in need of a playmaking quarterback. However, this didn’t stop Baltimore from using the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson, meaning he can negotiate with other teams but the Ravens have the right to match any offer he is presented on the market.
In response, many teams including the Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins, Las Vegas Raiders, Carolina Panthers and Washington Commanders proclaimed they will not be pursuing a deal with Jackson. This seems to be NFL ownership sending a message to Lamar: they don’t want fully-guaranteed contracts.
It’s understandable considering Jackson’s lack of playoff success and play style, which makes him more prone to injuries than most other quarterbacks. Teams don’t want to commit to such a player long-term, as it could handicap their ability to pay others.
But Jackson’s effect on the field cannot be understated. Simply put, the Ravens win when he plays, and they don’t when he does not. That fact should be strongly considered when teams deliberate on whether they want to sign Jackson. There’s a lot of risk involved with this kind of move, but there’s also high reward.