By Terrance Turner
Sept. 9, 2022
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson will play out the last year of his rookie contract after he and the Ravens failed to reach agreement on a long-term deal.
“Despite best efforts on both sides, we were unable to reach a contract extension with Lamar Jackson,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said today in a statement. “We greatly appreciate how he has handled this process and we are excited about our team with Lamar leading the way. We will continue to work towards a long-term contract after the season, but for now we are looking forward to a successful 2022 campaign.”
The two sides failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension by Jackson’s self-imposed Friday deadline. Jackson had wanted to reach a deal before the start of the regular season; on Wednesday he told ESPN that Friday was the cutoff date. It was not expected that a deal would be struck in time, according to ESPN writer Jamison Henley.
Jackson is representing himself in these negotiations and does not have an agent, an unusual move for an NFL player. Now, he faces an uncertain future: Jackson will play the fifth and final year of his rookie contract without a new deal. Jackson, 25, will make $23 million this season but has no guaranteed money after this season.
And the negotiations may hinge on guaranteed money: this offseason, three quarterbacks (including Browns QB Deshaun Watson and Cardinals QB Kyler Murray) signed massive new deals with over $100 million guaranteed. According to ESPN, Jackson, who has taken more hits (737) than any other quarterback since 2018, was asked this week whether he feels it’s a risk to play with no guaranteed money beyond this season.
“It was a pretty big risk last season. The year before,” Jackson said Wednesday. “I wasn’t thinking about contract negotiations around that time. This season gonna be the same thing. I’m just playing football. Anything can happen. God forbid the wrong thing happens.”
As NFL.com points out, this situation is risky for both parties: Jackson could be injured and lose value; Ravens could lose their star QB. “Jackson enters the fifth and final year of his rookie deal with no security beyond 2022, leaving open the chance for serious injury that could diminish his value. Baltimore, meanwhile, is taking a chance by not securing the 2019 AP NFL Most Valuable Player and allowing him to get uncomfortably close to free agency.” If a deal isn’t reached by March 7, the Ravens would have to put a franchise tag on Jackson; otherwise, he becomes a free agent.
Jackson’s value to the franchise is considerable. Since joining the Ravens in 2018, he’s racked up a 37-12 record as starter. And he scored his first playoff win early last year against the Titans. He’s coming off a challenging season: he threw a career-worst 13 interceptions and missed a career-high five games — the last four due to an ankle injury, per ESPN. But even then, Jackson turned in some stellar performances.
In October, Jackson rallied the Ravens back from a 22-3 deficit against the Indianapolis Colts. With just 56 seconds left in the quarter, Jackson fired a pass to running back Marquise Brown for a 43-yard score. Then, in the fourth quarter, With 9:38 left in the fourth quarter, Jackson hurled the ball to Ravens tight end Mark Andrews for a 5-yard touchdown, and the two combined for a two-point conversion.
Then, with just 39 seconds left in regulation, Jackson found Andrews again — and the two combined for a two-point conversion (again!). Remarkably, the Ravens had tied the game.
The Ravens ended up winning in overtime. Jackson completed 86% of his passes (37-for-43) and threw for 442 yards (a career high). According to ESPN, Jackson has the highest completion percentage ever for a quarterback throwing over 400 yards. Jackson is the first player in NFL history with at least 400 passing yards and a completion percentage above 85 in a game, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
“It’s one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen,” raved Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.
Today, Harbaugh seemed positive that Jackson and the team will reach a deal. “I’m confident that’ll happen when it’s time,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after practice Friday. “Lamar is going to be playing quarterback here for a long time.”
He’ll be playing quarterback on Sunday, in fact. Jackson and the Ravens play against Joe Flacco and the New York Jets in their season opener on Sunday. Ironically, the last Ravens quarterback to turn down Baltimore’s offers for a contract extension and play out his rookie deal was Joe Flacco in 2012. That year, Flacco led the Ravens to a Super Bowl title and then became the highest-paid player in the NFL the following offseason.
Will history repeat itself this season?