A second offseason has come and gone with tons of talk about the Ravens extending their superstar quarterback, Lamar Jackson. Much like the last offseason, the team failed to come to an agreement with Jackson.
As my brother put it in our group text, ”Welp”. Another offseason has come and gone. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson begins the second straight season without a long-term extension. Some of the team’s faithful fan base held out hope that an agreement would be reached on a lucrative extension. Jackson’s self-imposed deadline came to pass without the sides reaching an agreement. Where do the Ravens go from here?
This contract situation is giving off the 2012 Joe Flacco feel. I’m not predicting a Super Bowl win but the parallels are there. Back in 2011 and 2012, the Ravens’ front office approached Joe Flacco about signing a contract extension. Both offseasons, Flacco rejected the offers. The core of the issue was the quarterback’s self-worth. Flacco believed he was the best in the league. Subsequently, he went on a Montana-esque run and won Super Bowl 47 in New Orleans.
Lamar Jackson has been adamant about his contract value for two years now. Outside of the front office and Jackson’s agent-less camp, no one knows what he’s asking for. Assumptive numbers have been thrown around for the better part of the last year. With every ensuing quarterback mega-deal being inked around the league, fans and pundits have speculated that Lamar’s number continues to climb. In recent weeks, Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray and Denver signal caller Russell Wilson have signed massive contracts.
Cleveland Ruined The Quarterback Market For The Ravens
To me, the heart of the issue lies within the city of Cleveland. It is already bad enough that their writers will never elect Art Modell to the Hall of Fame. Now, they trade for a troublesome quarterback not worth mentioning by name and pay him over 240 million dollars of guaranteed cash. This has caused an uproar amongst owners behind closed doors. No other owner has paid their franchise quarterback a fully guaranteed deal. Russell Wilson is a Super Bowl-winning player and was not given a full guarantee.
Without question, Lamar Jackson is worth top quarterback money. He has won a unanimous MVP, he has done things on a field that other quarterbacks would only dream of doing, and he deserves to be paid for his achievements as well as his future potential. The deal must make sense for both parties.
Cleveland’s ineptitude from the owner on down has created a problem for the Baltimore Ravens brass. Paying any player that much money fully guaranteed is franchise-ruining. I have so much love for Lamar Jackson but I am a Ravens fan first. You cannot cripple your organization at the expense of one player. That being said, what are the Ravens’ options post 2022?
Examining Where The Ravens And Jackson Go From Here
Pay The Man
This is the majority consensus of the Ravens fanbase if you look on social media and listen to local radio stations. You have the occasional naysayers and pessimists about the prospect of a long-term contract. There is an even smaller fraction of Ravens fans that want to move on from Jackson right now and want to go forward with Tyler Huntley.
The reality is that Lamar Jackson makes the Ravens a much better football team when he is under center. There is no debate. While Huntley shows promise, he did not win a game as a starter in 2021 while Lamar was hurt. He provides a great insurance policy given their similar skill sets, but moving on from Jackson without a legendary return would be foolish.
The new NFL television deal should elevate the salary cap exponentially tover he next few years. According to overthecap.com, Baltimore is projected to have nearly 45 million in cap space barring extensions and the 2023 draft class. Even before considering those factors, giving Jackson over 50 million a year would put the team around six million dollars over the cap. That would cause more restructures on current players or releasing contributors to afford the cap hit. In 2024, the cap space is nearly 100 million. In 2025, nearly 114 million dollars in cap space.
While those numbers are massive for cap space, Jackson’s potential yearly average would eat half of the allotted space, if not more. If Baltimore chooses to move on from Lamar, a franchise tag-and-trade would need to happen. What would make the most sense for Baltimore in a potential Lamar Jackson trade?
Miami? New York? Detroit? Seattle? Teams Would Be Knocking Down The Door In Trades
At first glance, these are the most quarterback-needy franchises. Tampa Bay is in a limited window with Tom Brady. Miami is ”all in” on Tua until the prospect of trading for Lamar Jackson presents itself. Detroit has the need for an upgrade over Jared Goff. Seattle has no franchise quarterback on its roster. The New York Giants and New York Jets could both inquire as well.
Miami would make the most sense. That is where Lamar calls home. His family is there. He’s a local legend. On the business side, the Dolphins have a lot of draft capital and young players that would pique Baltimore’s interest. The haul for Jackson would be monumental. All of Miami’s first and second-round draft picks in the next three years would be the starting point. Add Xavien Howard or Christian Wilkins to sweeten the deal.
Detroit has draft capital but not much more in the form of players deemed trade worthy. Outside of left tackle Penei Sewell or defensive end Aiden Hutchinson, the options are limited to make sense. The Lions would need to add more draft picks down the road to make it work. Which would hinder their current rebuild.
The New York Giants and New York Jets would look to upgrade their quarterback room but they lack the enticing draft capital needed. Tampa Bay has an outside chance to acquire the talented signal-caller. Dangling Baltimore born outside linebacker Shaq Barrett and wide receiver Chris Godin could make up for the lack of multiple first-round picks. Philadelphia remains a dark horse to trade for Jackson. Packaging a deal around picks and Jalen Hurts would give Baltimore another option at quarterback in the post-Lamar Jackson era.
Hopefully, this is just mere speculation present-day and not a possibility come summer of 2023.