Ravens should extend Lamar Jackson as soon as possible

Ravens, Lamar Jackson Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Ravens, Lamar Jackson Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports /

The Baltimore Ravens will eventually agree to an extension with Lamar Jackson. At this point, it’s only a matter of time. But ‘time’ remains the biggest question for both sides.

By all accounts, both Jackson and the Ravens are on the same page.

Jackson has publicly stated that he’s not concerned with his contract situation and instead focused on winning. He wants a Super Bowl. And to the Ravens’ credit, they’ve remained insistent that an extension is looming.

Head coach John Harbaugh even referred to it as a “done deal.” So then why hasn’t it happened yet?

The Ravens should extend Lamar Jackson sooner rather than later.

Jackson’s contract negotiations have no doubt been complicated by his lack of an agent. It isn’t completely unprecedented for star players to negotiate deals without an agent present.

The likes of Bobby Wagner and Deandre Hopkins have negotiated large contracts without an agent. But there’s no contract like one being given to a franchise quarterback.

It’s not unprecedented, but a contract of this magnitude has never been negotiated without the presence of an agent.

Moreover, the Ravens don’t have to extend Jackson this offseason. This isn’t like the Joe Flacco situation from nearly a decade ago — Jackson is under contract next season.

But time is still of the essence. And it would be in the Ravens’ best interest to extend Jackson before the start of the 2021 season.

For starters, extending Jackson would give the team more cap flexibility next offseason and give them a better idea of what cap space they have remaining for other extensions.

Jackson’s cap number is set to rise to $23 million next season — an increase of over $20 million from his 2021 figure. They could drop that number by a significant margin if they extend him before next offseason.

And with players like Mark Andrews, Bradley Bozeman, DeShon Elliott, Patrick Ricard, Anthony Averett, Calais Campbell, and Brandon Williams all on expiring contracts, extending Jackson would give Baltimore a better idea of who they could extend.

Former NFL agent Joel Corry calls it “cost certainty.”

Of course, this is ignoring perhaps the most important reason as well. Fellow 2018 draft-mates Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield are eyeing new extensions too.

At the moment, it’s a bit of stand-off between their three teams to see who will crack first. The first extension could set the market and determine how much money the other two quarterbacks receive.

It could make sense for the Ravens to wait and see what, say, Josh Allen gets to provide a reference for Jackson’s contract — especially given the complications caused by Jackson’s lack of an agent.

But it’s probably in their best interest to be the first team to extend their young quarterback.

Jackson’s price tag is only likely to increase this season, barring any setbacks. If Allen gets his extension this offseason and Jackson plays well this year, his contract demands are only going to rise.

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The Ravens should extend Lamar Jackson as soon as possible — both to ensure future cap flexibility and to avoid any salary inflation.