Lamar Jackson can get his new contract with the Baltimore Ravens if he makes a compromise over how much guaranteed money he wants and for how long. Jackson can also “get to the free-agency market again” if he asks for the right things now.
A former vice president for the Green Bay Packers believes there’s a middle ground where both Jackson and the Ravens can meet. Doing so would put an end to the growing spectre of Jackson’s future, a situation fraught with uncertainty and compounded by recent reports the quarterback rejected his team’s latest offer because it didn’t contain enough assured cash.
Reaching this compromise would also leave the door ajar for Jackson to pursue a future away from the Ravens sometime in the near future. There’s a roadmap for one of the elite signal-callers in the NFL to enter free agency at a time that suits him best.
Ex-Packers Executive Tells Jackson How to Enter Free Agency
Speaking on an edition of the Ross Tucker Football Podcast, Andrew Brandt outlined how Jackson can test free agency three years from now. Brandt, who worked with the Packers from 1999-2008, recommends Jackson accepts “three years, $133 million. No franchise tag.”
That contract set a new benchmark for quarterbacks, one since shattered several times over. Specifically, the terms the Cleveland Browns agreed with Deshaun Watson this offseason, five years and $230 million guaranteed, reset the market.
Watson’s bumper contract put the power in the hands of top-tier quarterbacks, especially Jackson, who essentially represents himself. His position was always strong thanks to a 2019 campaign during which Jackson was named league MVP. He’s also been named an All-Pro and earned two Pro-Bowl berths.
Jackson likely knows he could call his own shot in free agency. It’s why he’ll expect the Ravens to pay up.
The knowledge may have also motivated Jackson’s decision to reject the Ravens’ latest offer, a development reported by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen:
Brandt thinks there’s nothing wrong with the fee the Ravens attached to their offer. Instead, he advises Jackson to revise the length of the terms.
Jackson Shouldn’t Count on the Franchise Tag
Brandt wrote for Sports Illustrated how a guaranteed three-year contract is a win-win for the Ravens and Jackson: “Accepting the $133 million guaranteed over three years would give the Ravens a win on the length of guarantee, as well as an average per year ($44.3 million) under the new money of recent deals. As for Jackson, it would give him the win of another bite at the free-agency apple before age 30.”
One more benefit of this option is how it would protect Jackson from trying to bet on himself by taking the franchise tag a year from now. It looks like the obvious choice for somebody playing on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal in 2022, but Brandt detailed the drawbacks of pinning hopes on the tag.
Those drawbacks include the freedom and flexibility of what Brandt called a “management-tilted CBA” and how it gives teams as many as three opportunities to keep a player under contract.
What Jackson needs is a clear path through the next chapter in his career. Letting the Ravens guarantee the next three years would not only secure his immediate future but would also let him choose the exact moment when he might decide to seek pastures new.
Of course, the Ravens won’t be looking forward to a day when Jackson wants out. Not when No. 8 is still one of the most dynamic deep passers in football, something he proved during Week 1’s 24-9 win over the New York Jets, per PFF BAL Ravens:
Yet, there is some consolation for those in the front office. Specifically, from when the franchise moved on from Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Flacco to make room for Jackson.
Flacco signed a six-year $120 million contract in 2013 but was gone by 2019, despite signing an extension three years earlier. Jackson is the key to this Ravens team winning a championship, but the organisation doesn’t need to be tethered to him for the long haul if a compromise can’t be reached.