Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has been one of the best players in football since 2019. On the verge of becoming one of the top NFL free agents in 2023, his quest to become one of the highest-paid quarterbacks has encountered some problems.
Jackson, a unanimous NFL MVP in 2019, has been in a contract standoff with the Ravens for over a year. Baltimore became a bit frustrated with the process last offseason, with Jackson setting a high asking price and the Cleveland Browns then complicating matters.
- Lamar Jackson stats (2022): 59.1 ESPN QBR (9th), 17-7 TD-INT, 764 rushing yards
Before the Browns acquired Deshaun Watson, Jackson still wanted to be one of the highest-paid NFL players with a deal that offered some of the most guaranteed money in league history. When Cleveland signed Watson to the first fully guaranteed contract for a quarterback in NFL history, worth $230 million, it set a new bar for Jackson to surpass.
While the Pro Bowl quarterback’s camp denied reports that he wants a fully-guaranteed deal, reports from the Ravens’ organization and around the league tell a different story. As detailed by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Jamison Hensley, Baltimore isn’t willing to repeat what Cleveland did.
“Just because the Browns were desperate doesn’t mean that the Ravens are. They are a stable franchise. They aren’t about to jump at something just because Cleveland did it.”NFL executive on Baltimore Ravens’ unwillingness to offer Lamar Jackson a fully-guaranteed contract
While the Ravens won’t offer Jackson a fully-guaranteed contract, their final offer to him in September 2022 would’ve provided him with one of the largest contracts ever. Baltimore reportedly proposed a five-year deal worth $250 million, with $133 million guaranteed.
The $133 million fully guaranteed would be the second-highest ever for an NFL player, just ahead of Russell Wilson but far behind Watson. Meanwhile, the $250 million total value of the contract would only rank behind Patrick Mahomes (10 years, $450 million) and Josh Allen (6 years, $258 million). Jackson also would’ve joined Aaron Rodgers as the only two players with a $50 million average annual salary.
Instead, Jackson countered with a similar offer that would provide more than $200 million in guarantees over five years. The proposal was rejected and he focused on the 2022 season, playing at an elite level but only playing in 12 games for the second consecutive year.
Consecutive injury-marred seasons would seemingly provide the Ravens with leverage in contract negotiations. However, upcoming contract extensions for Jalen Hurts and Joe Burrow will likely reset the market for quarterbacks with the guaranteed money and AAV significantly increasing.
Now all eyes in the NFL are on what franchise tag Jackson receives. If Baltimore uses the exclusive franchise tag on him, worth $45 million guaranteed, no other team can talk to Jackson. The exclusive tag would also indicate the asking price for a trade would be more than two first-round picks in exchange for the NFL star.
- Lamar Jackson contract: $45 million (exclusive franchise tag), $32.416 million (non-exclusive franchise tag)
However, the non-exclusive tag would allow all other clubs to enter contract negotiations with Jackson to see if the two sides can reach a deal. If Jackson agrees to an offer sheet with another team, the Ravens can either match it or receive two first-round picks from the team he signs with.