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Baltimore Ravens offered Lamar Jackson $250 million, evaluating why he turned it down

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson will play out the 2022 NFL season on the final year of his rookie contract after turning down an extension that would have made him one of the highest-paid NFL players ever.

Jackson, who doesn’t have an agent, engaged in contract negotiations with Baltimore throughout the summer. While the two sides made progress after there was a significant gap a year ago, a deal couldn’t be reached before the self-imposed deadline set by Jackson on Friday.

  • Lamar Jackson contract: $23.016 million salary (2022)

The 2019 NFL MVP and two-time Pro Bowl selection is now focused on the season ahead, trying to get the Ravens back to the NFL playoffs. Hours before he takes the field in Week 1 against the New York Jets, new details have emerged about the offer the Ravens submitted to their franchise quarterback.

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According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Baltimore reportedly offered Jackson a contract extension worth $250 million. It was a six-year offer, per Chris Mortensen, that came with $133 million guaranteed and would have made him one of the highest-paid quarterbacks ever.

The proposal would have surpassed the extensions signed by Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray this summer. Murray signed a $230.5 million contract with Arizona Cardinals, receiving $103 million guaranteed at signing and a $46.1 million AAV. A few weeks later, the Denver Broncos inked Wilson to a five-year extension worth $242.588 million that came with $124 million guaranteed at signing and a $48.517 million AAV.

Previous reports this offseason indicated the Ravens became frustrated during the negotiation process. The organization felt extremely confident it made a fair offer, especially in the final days as it increased the total value and guarantees in its final proposal.

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Why Lamar Jackson turned down Baltimore’s offer

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

The 25-year-old is certainly taking a massive risk this season. While the final year of his rookie contract is fully guaranteed, there are no long-term protections if he suffers a devastating injury this season. It’s a short-term risk for the 2018 first-round pick, but there could also be substantial gain financially if he stays on the field.

Jackson is eligible to receive the franchise tag in 2023, leaving Baltimore with a decision to make. If it places the non-exclusive tag on the face of its franchise, Jackson would be due a fully-guaranteed salary of around $30 million next season. However, the non-exclusive tag means other NFL teams can negotiate a contract with him in free agency. Either Baltimore matches the best offer he receives, which could be structured to make it more difficult on the salary cap, or it receives two future first-round picks. That would be a significantly smaller return than the Houston Texans received in the Deshaun Watson trade this offseason.

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The alternative is the exclusive franchise tag, which is projected to cost $45.5 million fully guaranteed. It helps Baltimore avoid the long-term risk that comes from an extension if Jackson suffered a significant injury in 2023. However, it would prove especially costly as time went on. Under NFL rules, placing the franchise tag on Jackson for the second consecutive time would require paying him a significantly higher salary.

As the table shows below, Jackson could easily set himself up to make $122 million fully guaranteed over the next three seasons without ever signing a contract extension.

Guaranteed Money
Lamar Jackson salary in 2022$23.016 million
Lamar Jackson salary in 2023 (exclusive franchise tag)$45.4 million
Lamar Jackson salary in 2024 (2nd exclusive franchise tag)$54.4 million

While teams are allowed to use the franchise tag for three consecutive years, it’s so cost-prohibitive that it will likely never happen. Jackson is following the path that Kirk Cousins took and it could work out even better for the Ravens’ quarterback.

Jackson is betting on himself and that comes with immense risk. If his gamble pays off, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2025 and will have already made more than $120 million in the previous three seasons. Coming off a year with a $54.4 million salary, Jackson could easily surpass the final offer Baltimore made.