Lamar Jackson sees his market value. With the bank accounts of proven starting quarterbacks soaring, and the number of them throughout the NFL fluctuating, the Ravens starter is one of two former NFL MVPs to be active and not past their prime.
Jackson is the one of that pair not to win a Super Bowl, however, with Patrick Mahomes occupying the other spot. Yet, it’s better to have someone like that on your side than across the field. The former Heisman Trophy winner is betting on himself and will enter the 2022 regular season without a long-term contract.
Jackson’s self-imposed deadline of Friday to get a deal well into the future in Baltimore didn’t happen, the Ravens said in a statement. The Louisville alum desires to focus on the season, tabling any contract talks to after the end of the year. Jackson is in the last season of his five-year rookie contract, with a $23 million salary in guaranteed money. The odd part about the negotiations is Jackson’s lack of an agent. He represents himself in these important talks.
It’s not clear where Jackson and the Ravens differ in terms of a future contract but both sides have expressed interest in having their relationship continue. If Baltimore can’t reach a long-term deal with Jackson by the beginning of next season, it’s likely the Ravens would place their franchise tag on him, which would pay him around $45 million for the 2023 campaign. A long-term deal with Jackson is expected to break records, either in guaranteed money or yearly salary. Four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers has the highest annual salary in the league for the 2022 season among quarterbacks, and overall at $50.2 million. Browns QB Deshaun Watson holds the guaranteed-money record despite his 11-game suspension for alleged sexual misconduct at $230 million.
“Despite best efforts on both sides, we were unable to reach a contract extension with Lamar Jackson,” Ravens’ GM Eric DeCosta said in a statement Friday. “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.”
New Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson is second in both categories with a deal signed last week: $49 million per, $165 million guaranteed — he’s never won an MVP, but played in two Super Bowls. The AFC is dominated by top-tier quarterbacks compared to the NFC, but Jackson’s chances of leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl are absolutely intact in 2022. He will get paid, one way or another. If the Ravens can’t meet his demands, someone else will gladly find a few Brinks trucks to make him happy.
Balancing the past with the future is the major factor when paying a quarterback. Are the chances high of Jackson winning another MVP by the time his career is over? Yes. And how does that translate into actual monetary value? Likely north of $55 million a season. Should Baltimore be successful, Jackson’s tactics mimic that of one of baseball’s biggest stars: Aaron Judge. The Yankees couldn’t reach a long-term deal with their home-run monster before the start of this season. And now, he’s on pace to hit the most home runs in American League history.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman offered Judge a seven-year, $213.5 million extension. To avoid arbitration, they settled on a single-season deal worth $19 million with $250,000 bonuses for winning an MVP Award and a World Series MVP. He’s going to get a quarter-million more soon. And likely will be financially set for generations after his efforts this season. Now Jackson must do the same.
Of course, there’s a chance Jackson falls below expectations this season. Without a star running back and no true No. 1 receiver, a lot will be placed on his shoulders. If the Ravens falter in 2022, a franchise tag is all but guaranteed, saving the team some major money and delaying long-term negotiations even longer. It’ll eventually reach a point where Baltimore must decide — pay up or let Jackson walk to someone else who’ll line his pockets. Bet on the former happening sooner or later.