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Gap widens for Lamar Jackson, Ravens with Daniel Jones’ monster contract extension

Shortly before the NFL franchise tag deadline hit, causing pandemonium when it comes to Lamar Jackson news, New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones happily put pen to paper and signed a new four-year, $160 million contract, one that includes $35 million in incentives and will pay him $82 million over the first two years.

By doing so, it allowed the Giants to avoid slapping the franchise tag on the 25-year-old QB and instead freed them up to use the tag on running back Saquon Barkley, in turn avoiding a free agency overpay or losing him altogether. This is a great example of an organization displaying what has seemingly become an elusive concept known as “things that make the most sense.”

Meanwhile, in Baltimore, quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Ravens continued their bizarre negotiation process that ended up with the non-exclusive franchise tag being placed on Jackson.

This news landed well before the deadline, more or less confirming that the two sides either aren’t really talking or remain miles apart. Perhaps a healthy mix of both. The communication hasn’t been great, and that’s been the storyline for more than a calendar year.

The good news is this does keep the dynamic talent from hitting the free-agent market. Jackson will earn $32.42 million in 2023 if the two pesky sides can’t find their way out of the fog and agree on a multi-year contract extension.

Related: 12 highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL: Daniel Jones now in the club

The bad news — at least for Ravens fans — is the non-exclusive tag allows Jackson to field offers from other teams once the legal negotiation window begins on March 13.

What we would really like to know though is how Jackson reacted to the following string of words: Daniel Jones will be paid $82 million over the first two years of his new contract.

Considering Jones more or less earned this new contract with his performance in a pivotal make-or-break season under new head coach Brian Daboll, you have to wonder just how fast Jackson’s head began to spin; and perhaps how many remote controls were tossed like a frisbee.

The situation in Baltimore was already clunky enough, and now one has to imagine the proven dual-threat beast has already raised his price tag without flinching. And why wouldn’t he? Jackson just turned 26 (Jones will be 26 in May), but the Ravens QB has been — without a doubt — “The Guy” for four years running now.

Even in an abrupt early end to the 2022 season where he only played 12 games, Jackson still threw two more touchdown passes than Jones. It’s not even up for debate who the better quarterback is here. Hence, the dilemma.

Related: NFL franchise tag deadline: A look at 6 winners and losers

Which teams are still even interested in Lamar Jackson?

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

What’s the new number? More importantly, at what point does general manager Eric DeCosta simply call it a day, live with the franchise tag, and wait for a possible opportunity to match a contract offer from another team? Will there even be an outside offer at all? If so, which team would it be?

We’re having difficulty with that one as the news steadily rolls in. With the Jones contract numbers piled on top of the expected suitors announcing they are no longer suitors, it’s looking like the Ravens are the ones who had the crystal ball, while Jackson has been unknowingly carrying around a bag of rocks.

But what about the Atlanta Falcons? They were announced as being out of the sweepstakes approximately 14 minutes after the Ravens applied the franchise tag.

Well, what about the Miami Dolphins after the NFL Draft is over they can offer up their first-round picks for 2024.


That leaves the Panthers, Raiders, and Commanders as likely teams to be in hot pursuit, but they have all been confirmed through multiple sources to be out on Jackson, for now.

This could easily all be some form of a negotiating tactic or simply teams that may not have fully made up their minds yet as to which direction they’re headed for 2023.

Among others that are likely to emerge, one sleeper candidate that’s now wide awake is the Minnesota Vikings. There have been plenty of rumors about whether or not the wild honeymoon with Kirk Cousins is over, they may be a team to keep an eye on, despite having a less-than-ideal amount of draft capital.

One thing we do know is this is going to be a wild stretch for Lamar Jackson once the free agency window bursts open on Monday.

Related: Top NFL free agents of 2023: Rankings the best players available from 1-400

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