Throughout his ongoing contract negotiations for a long-term deal with the Baltimore Ravens, former unanimous league MVP, Lamar Jackson had been silent when it comes to sharing any details.
That changed on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, when he took to Twitter to refute a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter that stated he turned down a contract offer that would’ve paid him $200 million fully guaranteed and shared provided some insight on what he has been offered.
He used a GIF to dispel the initial report that he turned down an offer that included the second most guaranteed money ever given to a player and second only behind the Cleveland Browns‘ Deshaun Watson. In a comment thread under his own tweet, he shared that he was offered a fully guaranteed contract of $133 million over three years which would average out to $44.3 million a year without the assistance of an agent but opted not to sign it.
NFL Network Insider, Mike Garafolo reported that based on his understanding of the situation, the details that Jackson shared were part of a five-year extension that had two non-guaranteed years on the back of it.
For months, numerous NFL insiders have reported and it is widely believed that Jackson has been seeking a fully guaranteed deal that eclipses the five-year contract worth $230 million that Watson received after getting traded to the Browns.
According to the exact report that Schefter shared on his podcast, Jackson would’ve been guaranteed $133 million at signing and would have injury guarantees that brought the total to $175 million and a springing guarantee that would take it up to $200 million.
“Those guarantees were way more than Kyler Murray got from Arizona (Cardinals), way more than Russell Wilson got from the Denver Broncos, and yes those were the actual numbers and that was the situation,” Schefter said.
He would further clarify on Tuesday while on the air of ESPN’s Free Agency coverage broadcast that the deal Jackson was previously offered was essentially for $175 million guaranteed because the repercussions of releasing him would be too severe.
“Essentially, for that $175 million not to kick in, Baltimore would’ve had to release him now and take a cap hit of $70 million. They’re not doing that,” Schefter said. “These are just the facts from the contract, no spin, no nothing. $175 (million), that was the real guarantee with injury that Lamar Jackson turned down.”
Hours later, his colleague and fellow insider, Chris Mortensen reported on Twitter that Jackson rejected a six-year extension worth an excess of $290 million that would’ve paid him $133 million at signing.
One aspect of this whole situation that is guaranteed is that the Ravens will have a hard time improving the team around Jackson by acquiring new talent or retaining the key players already on the roster until it is resolved and a long-term deal is ironed out.
Until then, he will be slated to make a below-market amount of $32.4 million on the nonexclusive franchise tag unless another team signs him to an offer sheet and the Ravens opt not to match and receive two first-round picks in exchange.
Jackson Breaks Agreement With Front Office by Sharing Contract Offer Details
The reason that all information pertaining to the ongoing negotiations between the two parties has been based on speculation and not straight from either side directly is because according to general manager Eric DeCosta, they had an agreement in place to not disclose any of it.
“That’s why I don’t speak about the negotiation,” he said at the NFL Scouting Combine on March 1, 2023. “That’s why never see any contract proposal that we’ve ever offered because our agreement was that it would be between Lamar and myself.”
By sharing the details of the offer he received and turned down from the Ravens whether it was part of a larger extension or not, Jackson essentially broke the verbal non-disclosure agreement he had in place with DeCosta and the organization.
It will remain to be seen how this will affect the ongoing talks between them if at all but it is just another chapter in what is becoming a nauseating saga that will hopefully get resolved sooner rather than later.
Ravens Restructure OG Kevin Zeitler, Details on RB Gus Edwards’ Restructure Revealed
Even though Jackson’s 2023 salary under this particular tag is well below market value for a player of his caliber, it is still a hefty price to pay.
It is forcing DeCosta to get creative and make some tough decisions to clear enough cap space to not only be compliant when the new league year begins on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, but also potentially bring some veteran talent at positions of need via free agency as well as be able to sign the incoming rookie draft class.
While Jackson was leaking details of one of his contract offers on social media, the team free up some more cap space by restructuring the contracts of veteran right guard Kevin Zeitler and running back Gus Edwards.
According to a report from ESPN’s Field Yates, the team created $7.108 million in cap space by reworking the two deals of the offensive players entering the final years of their respective contracts.
News of Edwards getting his contract altered in an effort to get the team out of the red was first reported by The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec on March 10, 2023. On Tuesday, Yates’ ESPN colleague and Ravens beat reporter, Jamison Hensley, provided specific details in a report.
The Ravens were able to create $2.654 million in cap space by having Edwards agree to take a pay cut of $900,000 that can be regained “via incentives”. Per Yates, he now has a fully guaranteed signing bonus of $2.3 million and a base salary of just $1.084 million in 2023.
Hensley also reported that the Ravens tacked on four void years to Edwards’ contract, reducing his cap charge to just $2.794 million. According to spotrac.com, the team currently sits at $11.1 million in available salary cap space.