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Ravens Taking a Huge Risk by Tagging Lamar Jackson with Franchise Tag



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The negotiations between Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens for a contract extension have been ongoing for the past two years, but no deal has been reached. One sticking point has been the Deshaun Watson contract, the first contract that was fully guaranteed, which was seen as an outlier for elite quarterback deals.

In March of 2022, the Ravens reportedly offered a $250 million deal with $133 million guaranteed, but this was seen as a potentially insurmountable hurdle. Jackson was then franchised tagged, which allowed him to solicit a contract offer from another team. The lack of an agent was seen as a hurdle, as they could have helped Jackson navigate the process, especially in terms of engaging with other teams to sort out his potential options.

Currently, various teams have come out in unison stating that they are not interested in trading for Lamar Jackson. This came as a surprise because Jackson is a 26-year-old MVP quarterback and would cost less first round draft picks (two) than what Deshaun Watson cost(three), and who hasn’t been involved in any legal troubles, or suspended like Watson. There is speculation that there is collusion between teams in order to avoid paying Jackson a fully guaranteed contract even if collusion cannot be proven.

Jackson does seem to have leverage; he does not have to sign anything and could opt to sit until game ten of next season. The hope for Jackson and his camp should he choose that hardline stance is that struggling teams, or teams that lose their QB1 due to injuries would come calling during the season. It is possible that a team could make an offer to Jackson during the offseason, but it is also possible that no team will be willing to give up two first-round picks to sign him to a long-term deal. Additionally, the negotiations between Jackson and the Ravens could continue, with the two sides potentially finding common ground on a contract extension.

One solution would be to negotiate for a higher percentage of guaranteed money upfront, or to include more performance-based incentives that would increase the likelihood of Jackson earning more money over the life of the contract; for example, offering Jackson around $200 million fully guaranteed and have the remaining $50 million earned when he hits the performance benchmarks in his contract. Another option would be to structure the contract with more guaranteed money in later years, when the team would have a better idea of Jackson’s long-term potential. In the end, it would behoove Baltimore to find a middle ground that works for both parties, while ensuring that Lamar Jackson is fairly compensated for his talent and potential, because losing an MVP that is entering his true prime is a gamble that might significantly set back the Ravens franchise, especially in the volatile and unpredictable nature of the NFL.



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