Ozzie Newsome’s ultimate draft as Ravens common supervisor in 2018 noticed the workforce safe a succession plan for Joe Flacco on the quarterback place. With the Tremendous Bowl XLVII MVP getting old and approaching an essential monetary level in his contract, Lamar Jackson was chosen to at some point take over the reins of a transitioning offense.
That point got here halfway by means of Jackson’s rookie season, when the Louisville product took over for an injured Flacco. He helped lead the Ravens to a 6-1 file and a playoff berth, cementing his standing because the starter transferring ahead.
The 2019 season noticed Jackson ship probably the most distinctive and historic performances in NFL historical past, culminating within the league’s second ever unanimous MVP vote. Expectations have been by means of the roof ever since, however the scenario between Jackson and the Ravens has soured lately with contract talks netting little progress over the previous two years.
The 26-year-old was considered subsequent in line for a mega-extension just like those signed by Patrick Mahomes and 2018 classmate Josh Allen. The Ravens have been ready to pay Jackson similarly to these two when it comes to annual compensation within the neighborhood of $45M per season. As time wore on with out a lot traction being gained throughout negotiations, although, the occasions of final offseason marked an essential turning level.
After being the topic of a bidding struggle, Deshaun Watson was finally traded to the Browns and signed to a five-year, $230M deal. The shock from Cleveland’s willingness to half with three first-round picks for Watson was surpassed solely by the absolutely assured nature of his pact. Many across the league – together with Ravens proprietor Steve Bisciotti – lamented the historic funding the Browns made in Watson, conscious about how it will possible have an effect on Jackson’s leverage in extension talks.
The earlier season had seen Baltimore discover itself atop the AFC standings earlier than a reaching a tipping level on the harm entrance. That included Jackson lacking time on account of harm for the primary time in his profession. He was sidelined for the ultimate 5 video games of the 12 months, and the Ravens narrowly missed the playoffs whereas struggling mightily on offense. Reviews then emerged in the course of the summer season of 2022 that the two-time Professional Bowler turned down a suggestion together with $133M in assured cash.
That determine would have ranked second within the league, however nowhere close to the extent of Watson’s deal. New contracts signed by Russell Wilson ($124M absolutely assured) and Kyler Murray ($103M) advised groups had been keen to disregard the Watson accord when it comes to precedent on the assure entrance, one thing the Ravens’ entrance workplace is holding agency on. Jackson made it clear he would pause negotiations in the course of the 2022 season, one which was anticipated to supply readability on his monetary future.
Taking part in on the fifth-year choice, Jackson and the Ravens as an alternative adopted an identical script this 12 months. The previous Heisman winner suffered a knee harm in Week 13, one thing which was not initially anticipated to price him the rest of the season. That ended up being the case, nevertheless, and far was made about his absence extending into the workforce’s postseason loss. Jackson’s resolution to take to social media to elaborate on the extent of his PCL sprain, and later to situation a thinly-veiled directive to the workforce concerning his impending free company, didn’t sit properly.
Having missed 10 of the previous 22 video games, accidents have change into a speaking level with a lot at stake in contract talks. That determine may give the Ravens (or every other workforce) perceived leverage, however Jackson has loads as properly. The Ravens are 46-19 in his begins, and 4-9 with out him since 2019. The workforce’s offense has averaged 10 fewer factors per sport with out Jackson throughout that span.
New offensive coordinator Todd Monken is anticipated to provide schematic adjustments in comparison with Greg Roman, the OC throughout every of Jackson’s 4 full seasons as a starter. No matter what takes place on that entrance, the Ravens’ pass-catching corps (which lacks established playmakers outdoors of tight finish Mark Andrews) shall be a key space of focus. Additions – akin to a long-term alternative for Marquise Brown, whose commerce request was quietly granted final spring – shall be laborious to return by when Jackson takes up a considerably larger portion of the Ravens’ cap, both by means of a mega-deal or a one-year cost introduced on by the franchise tag.
The problem in buying and retaining pass-catchers more and more turned a degree of rivalry after Flacco turned his 2012 playoff success right into a franchise-record extension. Trepidation on the workforce’s half when it comes to trying to keep away from a repeat of that state of affairs can be comprehensible up to some extent, because the Ravens look to maintain Jackson within the fold whereas not compromising an in any other case robust roster.
With the franchise tag being all-but sure in Jackson’s case, this saga may proceed for months to return. A suggestion sheet or tag-and-trade may come into play, relying on which tag the Ravens use and Jackson’s perceived market across the league. Whether or not he indicators his tag is one other matter altogether, and sitting out the offseason may result in a holdout scenario just like Le’Veon Bell in 2018. The then-Steeler skipped the complete marketing campaign, forfeiting hundreds of thousands in compensation (albeit far lower than what Jackson can be giving up if he adopted swimsuit). Bell nonetheless landed a big-ticket deal from the Jets in 2019, so the tactic may show helpful if a repeat had been to be tried. It’s additionally value noting, nevertheless, that Bell by no means replicated his pre-holdout success on the sector.
No choice is off the desk at this level, from a franchise-record deal to the league’s first ever commerce involving an MVP below the age of 30.
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