After five years as starting quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens, now Lamar Jackson’s contract is expired, and the former NFL MVP is set for free agency. As you can imagine, if he hits the open market, Jackson would be one of the most sought-after players in NFL history, akin to Reggie White’s free agent campaign at the end of the 1992 season.
Yet, the Ravens aren’t eager to allow the face of the franchise to be allowed to negotiate contracts with other NFL organizations. For a franchise that averaged 23.7 points per game when Jackson starts and just 10.5 PPG when he doesn’t, the dual-threat’s impact is hard to ignore.
But instead of allowing Jackson to actually become a free agent, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has already indicated that the Ravens will be applying the franchise tag to their franchise QB.
His “sense” is that Jackson would be receiving the ‘exclusive’ version of the tag, as opposed to the ‘non-exclusive’ version. The main difference between the two is that the exclusive won’t allow Jackson to conversate with any other NFL teams, meaning if he wants to sign a long-term contract, he will exclusively be negotiating with the Ravens and no one else.
While a non-exclusive tag would allow another team to sign him to a contract, and if the Ravens refused to match, they would receive two first-round picks from the team who signs Jackson. Yet, that’s not what Baltimore wants. They also realize that Jackson’s price tag via trade would be worth much more than just two first-round picks.
Yet, with an exclusive tag, Jackson can either sign the tag, work out a long-term extension with the Ravens, and only the Ravens or Baltimore could then decide to trade him for whatever price package they desire.
While the Ravens likely ultimately prefer to just get this all over with, signing their 26-year-old two-time Pro Bowl QB under contract for the foreseeable future, the ball is in Jackson’s court.