NFL quarterback Lamar Jackson was unable to complete a contract extension with the Baltimore Ravens prior to yesterday’s season opener versus the New York Jets. According to ESPN, the 2019 NFL MVP refused to accept a five-year extension offer worth over $250 million with $133 million guaranteed at signing. So both sides reportedly agreed that talks should resume at the end of the 2022-2023 season.
“Those things will work themselves out in the end. I’m confident in that,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said in a statement on Friday. “I said at the beginning that it will happen when it’s time, and when it’s time it will happen. So, Lamar [Jackson] is playing quarterback, he’s going to be playing quarterback here for a long time.”
“He and I talked about it yesterday a little bit, like, ‘Hey man, let’s go be our best, and go focus on football,'” Harbaugh added. “That’s what he’s been doing all along, so I know nothing will change with that. [We’re] just focused on Sunday.”
Sports Illustrated hyped up Jackson’s pending performance, noting his track record of stellar season openers, and called him the “NFL’s Most Dominant Quarterback in Week 1.” And the 2x Pro Bowler didn’t disappoint. He threw for 213 yards and made three touchdowns against Gang Green, leading the Ravens to victory with a score of 24-9.
Supposedly, Jackson was looking for a deal that would have paid him more than either Denver Broncos QB Russell Wilson or Arizona Cardinals play caller Kyler Murray. However, a major sticking point for the Ravens was that Jackson wanted a contract that rivaled embattled quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Watson was offered a contract by the Cleveland Browns that fully guaranteed $230 million at signing. And the Ravens’ own guarantee to Jackson fell nearly $100 million short of Watson’s. But one major difference for Jackson this year is that he is also acting as his own agent, with the assistance of his mother and guidance from the NFL Players Association.
“It was a pretty big risk last season, the year before,” Jackson said in a statement on Friday. “I wasn’t thinking about contract negotiations around that time. This season, it’s going to be the same thing, but I’m just playing football. Anything can happen, but God forbid the wrong thing happens, I’m keeping God first and just playing ball, like I’ve been doing.”
The Ravens are expected to use the franchise tag on Jackson. But NFL cornerback Richard Sherman firmly believes that “cowardice” which has stalled talks between Jackson and the Ravens. “[The excuse of] ‘him representing himself’ is just a buffer, [a way to] push players away from doing their own deals,” the 5x Pro Bowler said last week on The Rich Eisen Show.
“General managers never want to have uncomfortable conversations,” Sherman added. “And so, the relationships that GMs have with agents, they can go have drinks, they can go meet at the bar, they can meet at the combines, have these ‘buddy-buddy’ conversations. But [both sides are complicit]. They can say things to each other that they never say in front of the players.”
“And when it’s the player representing himself, they can’t say those things. You can’t disrespect him… you’ve gotta talk to him with a certain amount of respect and regard,” the Super Bowl XLVIII champ continued. “And I think Lamar’s just taking his life in his own hands, as he should. Kyler Murray just got $230 million… so that’s the floor. Because Kyler Murray has not done anywhere near as much in this league as Lamar Jackson.”
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