Why Lamar Jackson extension helps Baltimore Ravens now

Bob Self/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY

The Lamar Jackson contract extension with the Baltimore Ravens got praise and backlash from varying people. While the shortcomings of Jackson in the playoffs are notable, there are some flaws against the idea of paying Jackson. The first is that the team is now handicapped by his big salary.

Why Lamar Jackson extension helps Baltimore Ravens now

It is fair to admit that Jackson will have a big cap hit moving forward, and the team will have to make adjustments along the edges to keep things in line. However, the team can manage the cap just fine even with Jackson on the books. In the first year, the Baltimore Ravens actually are going to save cap space.

Because the team initially had the franchise tag on him, it meant a $32M cap hit and it was a one-year deal so there was nowhere to wiggle. On paper, Jackson will average more than that per year. However, because the deal now has multiple years, the team used restructures to smooth the cap over.

For example, this year, the cap hit for Lamar Jackson is just $22M. That means the team saved $10M this year by adding Jackson. Essentially, the entire draft class, and a few million bucks in case something happens during the season was obtained just by getting the Jackson deal done. That is a nice benefit, that they did not have with Jackson on the cap.

Yes, the hit goes up to $33M next year, and by 2026 and 2027 the cap hit looks like it could be $74M, which would be nearly impossible to swallow. However, the first factor that needs to come into play is the rising salary cap.

Aside from 2020 due to a pandemic, the salary cap goes up every single year, and some years it goes up significantly. So, they save space now and push it forward, but the money they push forward is now a smaller percentage of the entire cap compared to this past year.

Still, with the $74M cap hit, you have to assume the Ravens will either be in a mind state where they want to extend him again and keep this thing rolling. That would mean lowering his cap hit. Or, they would be ready to move on. That would mean eating a huge cap hit in either 2026 or 2027.

Still, one year of a bad cap situation down the road may not be bad, especially if the team needs to transition at quarterback. It could be the one year where the roster resets and they draft high enough to change courses. But the initial thought is that by the time 2026 comes, the cap will be much higher, and a new extension will push the first year hit down. So, by 2030 they will have the same debate, but the cap will be even higher.

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The contract is not going to be easy, and it is not a chance for them to go and splurge. However, there are enough ways to keep the cap hits reasonable enough that the team can consistently put talented rosters around Lamar Jackson.