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Lamar Jackson has franchise tag place on him ahead of deadline

As expected, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson will not be hitting the NFL free agent market next week.

While the former NFL MVP and his team continue to be bogged down in tense contract talks, there’s was absolutely no way Baltimore would let Jackson test the free-agent waters without protecting itself.

That officially came on Tuesday, the day that NFL teams faced a deadline to franchise impending free agents. According to the Ravens themselves, Jackson has been handed the non-exclusive franchise tag.

“Having not yet reached a long-term deal with Lamar Jackson, we will use the franchise tag. There have been many instances across the league and in Baltimore when a player has been designated with the franchise tag and signed a long-term deal that same year. We will continue to negotiate in good faith with Lamar, and we are hopeful that we can strike a long-term deal that is fair to both Lamar and the Ravens.”

Baltimore Ravens GM Eric DeCosta on franchising Lamar Jackson

Said move will cost Baltimore $32.42 million against the cap in 2023 if the two sides are not able to come to terms on a contract extension. It also enables other teams to discuss a contract with Jackson once the NFL free agent tampering period opens on Monday.

Under NFL rules, the non-exclusive tag allows for conversations. If a team were to offer up Jackson a contract that the Ravens don’t match, the quarterback would then head to said team at the cost of two future first-round picks. Baltimore could have avoided this possibility by handing Jackson the exclusive franchise tag. Though, that would’ve cost a whopping $45 million in 2023.

Related: Lamar Jackson and the top NFL QBs of 2023

Lamar Jackson’s future with the Baltimore Ravens

Lamar Jackson
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Leading up to Tuesday’s deadline, it was reported that Jackson had not fully engaged with the Ravens on contract extension talks. This comes after more than a calendar year of contentious negotiations between the two sides.

Previously, it was noted that Jackson was more than willing to play under a series of franchise tags if his demands were not met in extension negotiations. After playing out the final year of his rookie contract in 2022, this is now about to come to fruition.

The non-exclusive tag means that another team can offer up a contract to Jackson once the official new league year opens on March 15. If Baltimore does not match that offer, it receives two future first-round picks. The exclusive tag would have prohibited this possibility.

In theory, a team like the Atlanta Falcons can enter into negotiations with Jackson. Baltimore could then deem that the offer Atlanta sent to Jackson’s team is too high and take the two first-round picks as compensation.

As you can see, Jackson has been among the best quarterbacks in the NFL since he entered the league as a first-round pick of the Ravens back in 2018. While he is coming off an injury-plagued and down 2022 season, Baltimore publicly views Jackson as the long-term solution under center.

“We want Lamar here. We think he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league and he’s certainly one of our best players, and we want him back. Living in a world without a quarterback is a bad world to live in. I think there’s a lot of GMs and coaches who would probably say that.”

Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta on Lamar Jackson

The issue for Baltimore is that it has wanted a long-term commitment from the quarterback. By having to place the franchise tag on him, that doesn’t seem to be in the cards right now. It will create continued problems moving forward, especially with the franchise tag price set to increase leaps and bounds in the coming years.

Related: One NFC team linked to Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson contract demands and what to expect moving forward

Franchising Jackson again in 2024 would cost the Ravens an estimated $54 million in cold hard cash. That’s nearly $100 million over two years. It was noted back in February that the Ravens had offered their superstar a five-year, $250 million contract with $133 million fully guaranteed.

While Jackson’s camp has denied that it’s demanding something similar to the fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract Deshaun Watson inked with the Cleveland Browns last offseason, there’s an obvious split here.

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Things will only intensify in this regard with Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts all eligible for first-time extensions this offseason. Once the NFL quarterback market resets, negotiations between two sides are pretty much reset, too.

At this point, there’s no telling what’s going to happen on this front. What we do know is that Baltimore changed the dynamics a bit by placing the franchise tag on Jackson.

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