If 2022 has proved anything, it’s that Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson is an elite, top-10 quarterback. End of discussion.
The more worthy topic up for debate is where Jackson may end up after this season since he’s currently playing out the final year of his rookie contract. Jackson’s tenuous contract situation has been covered extensively this past offseason as the star quarterback and the Ravens danced around a potential mega-million dollar deal.
Many factors have affected and continue to affect the situation including: Jackson’s lack of an agent, the inflating quarterback market, and the fact that Jackson has a unique set of talents that arguably makes him incomparable to his peers.
Jackson stated that he would stop contract negotiations once the 2022 season started, but the ongoing openness of the situation has still led many to theorize where he could end up in the future.
The Athletic’s Jeff Howe took a look at different scenarios for the Ravens quarterback and listed three main options.
The first, which is considered the most likely to happen, is that Baltimore will keep Jackson. They will either reach a long-term contract extension with Jackson or give him an exclusive franchise tag to retain him for at least one more year.
Ravens’ Lamar Jackson will enter a precarious contract situation in 2023
The second involves the Ravens giving Jackson a nonexclusive tag which would allow him to negotiate a deal with other NFL teams.
Baltimore could theoretically match any offer, yet this scenario poses an increased risk depending on what an interested suitor might offer Jackson. Based on last offseason’s blockbuster moves, it’s difficult to tell how high the bar is.
The third scenario is the one in which the Ravens lose Lamar Jackson. If a team is crazy enough to offer Jackson a fully guaranteed contract on par with that of Browns’ Deshaun Watson, Jackson would be getting an offer he couldn’t very well refuse.
Howe names a handful of teams who may be willing to empty their wallets for Jackson: the Jets, Colts, Steelers, Texans, Giants, Commanders, Falcons, Lions, Panthers, or Saints. These are basically all the quarterback-needy teams for 2023.
Jackson already turned down a contract with $130 million in guaranteed money, which is more than what Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray received this past offseason.
This could suggest Jackson desires a deal in the same ballpark as Deshaun Watson, who received a fully guaranteed $230 million golden egg.
Keep in mind that Watson’s contract came into existence under very unique circumstances, and the Ravens probably won’t cough up that much to retain even a generational talent like Jackson.
Jackson, for his part, seems very content to keep playing the game and rolling the dice — he’s maximizing his value by holding out this long, but he knows one slight injury could seriously hurt his bargaining power in the future.
Whatever happens between Jackson and the Ravens in 2023, one thing is for certain: someone will pay a pretty penny. All the quarterbacks who signed contracts last offseason earned average annual salaries worth more than $46 million.
Barring any injuries, Lamar Jackson will get his bag. The question is, how much?