Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is eligible for a contract extension and the team is hoping to get something done in the near future.
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported last week that the Ravens consider Jackson’s extension priority No. 1 and are aiming to get it done prior to training camp.
The interesting thing about Jackson’s situation is that he’s going through this process without a certified NFL agent. He’s never had one. His mom deals with all his business affairs.
Considering how complex quarterback mega deals could be, Jackson’s situation will be fascinating to watch. It’s not like the rookie deal, which is slotted. If and when a deal gets done, the structure and language of the deal will be interesting to see. How much will be guaranteed at signing? How much is guaranteed for injury only? There are so many details and little nuances that have to be factored in.
The Ravens don’t have to extend Jackson this offseason. Jackson is in the fourth year of his rookie deal and the Ravens already picked up his fifth-year option. If they let him play through his fourth and fifth season, they could franchise tag him for a sixth season and do it again the year after.
The Eagles with Carson Wentz and the Rams with Jared Goff gave mega extensions after year three and that ended up backfiring.
Unlike the Cowboys with Dak Prescott, the Ravens don’t have to do this now. They could wait another year. That could also be risky because if Jackson continues to play at an MVP level, his price will skyrocket even higher and leverage starts tilting his way. That makes the negotiation process even more interesting.
Another thing to watch is if the Ravens will look to take advantage of a situation where the other side doesn’t have much experience with NFL contracts. Football is a business at the end of the day. It’s hard to see a team not taking advantage and trying to find those little holes in contract discussions. Without an agent or an advisor, the Ravens could get a deal which is advantageous. It also just creates a weird dynamic knowing that the player you’re negotiating with is the most important player on the roster.
A number of players have negotiated their own deals in recent years. But we’ve never had a deal which would be of this magnitude without an agent.
DeAndre Hopkins negotiated a fairly strong deal with the Cardinals last offseason. Laremy Tunsil did a great job on his own and reset the offensive tackle market. On the other hand, Russell Okung got one of the worst contracts ever when he was a free agent in 2016. He signed what was reported as a 5-year, $53M deal, but in reality not a single penny of the deal was guaranteed at signing. Denver cut him after one season for $5M.
Ravens GM Eric DeCosta has remained positive that something will happen in the near future.
“Lamar and I have had a discussion about that,” DeCosta recently said. “I think it’s important to us and it’s important to him. I think Lamar is obviously a very patient guy. He wants to be the best he can be. He wants this team to be the best it can be and he wants to win very badly. So we’re aligned that way. I’m confident that we’ll continue to discuss this and I think at some point, hopefully we’ll have some good news for everybody.”
Another thing to monitor is if this does stretch into training camp, how will the media handle it? Lamar Jackson will have to speak to reporters at camp. He’ll get asked questions about his contract. Most players in his situation could just say, ‘I’ll let my agent do that work.’ Jackson can’t do that.
He hasn’t said much about the situation up until now, but he did say recently that he hopes to have something done soon.
“I would love to be here forever,” Jackson said last month. “I love Baltimore. I love the whole organization. I love everybody in the building. But hopefully we’ll be making something happen pretty soon — or whenever.”
Jackson is one of three quarterbacks from the 2018 draft in line to get a massive extension. Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen are the other two.
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