Ravens don’t need to pay ‘top dollar’ for Lamar Jackson, per former NFL agent

Lamar Jackson, Ravens (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Lamar Jackson, Ravens (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has been making headlines for his stalled contract extension this offseason, and many have recently weighed in on Jackson’s role and influence in the ongoing negotiation talks.

Some, like CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, believe Jackson knows his own worth and also knows he has the upper hand in this scenario.

La Canfora’s sources indicate Jackson is “well-versed” in the quarterback financial landscape and that so far, the Ravens haven’t presented an offer close to $40 or $45 million per year.

Jackson played for just pennies last season on a $1.7 million base salary. Under his fifth-year option, he’s due to receive $23 million in fully guaranteed money in 2022, but it’s not hard to see why he wants more. The question presumably being argued behind closed doors is: how much?

One former NFL agent shared his controversial opinion on the subject in which he claims Baltimore can win “with or without” Jackson and therefore don’t need to pay “top dollar” for him.

“Bonkers” sums up Marc Lillibridge’s statement pretty well.

The Ravens need Lamar Jackson, no matter what anyone else says

Let’s lay out some facts: Lamar Jackson is a franchise quarterback and former MVP. Jackson is also a top-10quarterback, despite his lackluster 2021 performance. When healthy, Jackson has led the Ravens to winning seasons ever since he was drafted in 2018.

Tyler Huntley is a backup quarterback. Huntley will likely never be a top-10 quarterback. In Jackson’s absence, Huntley could not lead the Ravens to the same level of success and he went 1-3 last season.

With the playoffs on the line, Huntley couldn’t muster a comeback against Green Bay, Los Angeles, or Pittsburgh in the final stretch of the season, and Baltimore ended up losing by three or fewer points in each of those games. Close, but still marked as losses.

That in itself disproves the assertation that the Ravens can win with or without Lamar Jackson. As for Baltimore not “needing” to give Jackson an expensive contract merely because the team has a “suitable” backup, we’ll circle back to what La Canfora noted in his article: Jackson knows exactly how much he’s worth to the team.

One of Canfora’s sources said:

"“Lamar has them by the balls, whether he knows it or not. And I get the impression that he does. They can’t carry him at $23M (against the cap on his fifth-year option) and do anything meaningful in free agency.”"

Tyler Huntley in no way represents a bargaining chip in these negotiation talks — he doesn’t even factor in at all.

Though Jackson’s situation is unique given that he doesn’t have an agent, he’s in a position of power to represent himself and negotiate his terms.

The Ravens quarterback seems to want to hike up his value a bit and command a deal closer to the $40 million range, which is what franchise stars like Patrick Mahomes ($45 million) and Josh Allen ($43 million) currently make.

To say Jackson’s talent is on par with that of Mahomes or Allen is an incontestable lie. But to say the Ravens need Jackson as much as the Chiefs need Mahomes or the Bills need Allen is a simple truth.

While unconventional, Jackson’s approach to these contract negotiations should not come across as immature or duplicitous. He’s performed well enough in the league that he can ask for a “top dollar” deal, and Baltimore doesn’t really have a better hand to play.

Betting on yourself is a high-risk, high-reward game especially when you’re a relatively young quarterback like Jackson, but this is the path he chose. The Ravens may just have to accept that.

Worst comes to worst, the Ravens can stick a franchise tag on Jackson before the 2023 season, but that doesn’t seem to be in either party’s best interest.

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At the end of the day, Jackson has played his cards exceedingly well and could end up getting the contract of his dreams. Whether or not he deserves it is a different story.