Peter King thinks he knows why Lamar Jackson still hasn’t received a fully guaranteed contract from the Baltimore Ravens. It has less to do with one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but more about Ronnie Stanley and how few games the All-Pro left tackle has played the last two years.
Stanley wasn’t on the field for Week 1’s 24-9 win over the New York Jets, meaning he’s now missed 28 games since October 2020. King believes Stanley’s prolonged absence has scarred the Ravens over the issue of handing hefty amounts of guaranteed money to players. It’s a risk compounded by Jackson’s dual-threat skills and all-action playing style.
Theory Blames Stanley For Lack of Movement on Jackson Deal
King put the theory forward in his Football Morning In America column for Pro Football Talk: “On Oct. 30, 2020, left tackle Ronnie Stanley signed the biggest contract ever for a left tackle; it included $64.2 in fully guaranteed money. Two days later, Stanley suffered an ankle injury against Pittsburgh. Since that day, and including the missed game Sunday against the Jets, Stanley has not played in 28 of the Ravens’ last 29 games. At 28, Stanley has to be considered a question mark for the short- and long-term future. In Lamar Jackson’s 62 NFL games entering Sunday, he’d averaged 10.7 rushes per game. I can’t imagine them ever considering a fully guaranteed contract for Jackson, especially given their recent experience with healthy guarantees.”
It’s an interesting and entirely plausible explanation for why the Ravens have let contract talks with the face of the franchise drag on without a resolution. The issue was all anyone wanted to talk about, even after Jackson threw three touchdown passes to open the season in style.
Many of the questions concerned the recent report from ESPN’s Chris Mortensen detailing how Jackson rejected a six-year deal paying as much as $290 million. After the game, Mortensen’s colleague Dianna Russini asked Baltimore’s QB1 about the story, to which Jackson revealed he was offered “roughly between $160-$180 million” in guaranteed cash.
King’s assertion for why the Ravens won’t rubber stamp more money for their franchise passer makes sense when you consider how little they’ve gotten in return since investing in Stanley’s market-altering contract.
It made sense at the time, especially after Stanley’s performances as Jackson’s blindside protector kept No. 8 upright long enough to be named league MVP:
The irony is Jackson would likely run the ball less and eliminate one of the risks King mentioned if Stanley was fully healthy.
Stanley’s Playing Time Key to Jackson’s Next Contract
Jackson ran six times for 17 yards and was also sacked twice against the Jets. That’s a lot of hits for the most important player on the team to absorb.
There’s no coincidence behind Jackson never completing a full season since entering the league in 2018. He lost the final five games of the 2021 campaign because of a sprained ankle, a problem that cost the Ravens a playoff spot.
The number of hits Jackson takes, as well as the starts he completes would surely trend upwards with Stanley on the field. Ja’Wuan James manned the fort in Week 1, but his own recent injury nightmare continued when he tore his left Achilles. It’s the “second time in 16 months” the former first-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins has suffered the injury, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.
James’ latest setback only hastened the need for Stanley to return, with Childs Walker of The Baltimore Sun doubting whether former undrafted free agent Patrick Mekari can dominate:
Whoever plays left tackle in Week 2 will be in for a stern test against a Dolphins’ defense loaded with talented edge-rushers. Versatile defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah can wreck any blocking scheme, while 33-year-old Melvin Ingram still has enough quickness left to win around the corner.
Unfortunately for the Ravens, NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe reported Jackson’s key O-lineman was among those still limited during practice on Wednesday, September 14:
If Stanley ever stays healthy and regains to his pre-injury form, the Ravens will feel better about coughing up more guaranteed cash for an elite quarterback subjected to less punishment.