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What’s Next For Lamar Jackson and the Ravens?

The Lamar Jackson situation has loomed over Baltimore since the start of the season. Boardroom looks at what happens now that he’s a pending free agent.

Players are disgruntled, coach John Harbaugh is under scrutiny for his play calling, and the Baltimore Ravens fell short yet again in the postseason. Now, Lamar Jackson, who missed the final six games of the season due to injury, is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

A dark cloud was cast over Baltimore from day one this year when Jackson turned down a reported $250 million contract. With the offseason now upon the franchise, Jackson’s future looms large as he reportedly chases a fully guaranteed deal.

The Ravens should know better than anyone that a player of Jackson’s caliber only comes around so often. After all, he was the first and only Ravens player to win MVP since they began play in 1996. Since drafting Jackson in 2018, Baltimore is 4-8 without him and 49-21 with him.

He took his thoughts to Instagram.

Since posting this, Jackson removed his profile picture and the Ravens from his Instagram bio. He also posted a picture that was cropped to make the number 8 appear like a 0.

Guaranteed Money

Baltimore is still reportedly “hopeful” that it will strike a deal with the franchise QB. The contract that Jackson turned down was for six years and $250 million, with $133 million guaranteed. The 26-year-old sought a fully guaranteed contract, but that might be out of the question now.

The Browns awarded the last fully guaranteed QB deal to Deshaun Watson in September. After that, several star quarterbacks have signed for less than 100% guaranteed at signing, while other extension candidates have been unable to come to terms at all.

Take this into account: Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts, and Tua Tagovailoa are all eligible for rookie extensions this offseason. The QB market in 2023 starts with them — if they even receive extensions before Jackson. Thus, if none of these guys become fully guaranteed, what makes us believe that the Ravens would do it for Jackson?

In late March, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti echoed a sentiment other league executives reportedly felt in regard to Watson’s $230 million deal: “It’s like, ‘damn, I wish they hadn’t guaranteed the whole contract,’” Bisciotti said at the time. “I don’t know that he should’ve been the first guy to get a fully guaranteed contract.”

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Lamar Jackson & The Franchise Tag

Baltimore can avoid a long-term contract and place the franchise tag on Jackson between Feb. 21 and March 7. By doing this, the Ravens would stop Jackson from testing free agent waters and free up time to work on a long-term deal. The franchise tag for QBs in 2023 is set at $45.2 million, which would be the third-most total cash for any QB in 2023.

Jackson can technically use the franchise tag as leverage, but it’s pretty clear he wants a long-term, guaranteed deal.

If the two sides don’t agree on a deal, then a trade is probably the most reasonable outcome with Baltimore headed straight towards a rebuild. If the Ravens want to avoid that fate, then they cannot fumble this one. Money should not be the problem here when the franchise is worth nearly $4 billion. The Ravens need to get it done.

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About The Author
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio is a Staff Writer at Boardroom. Puccio has 10 years of experience in journalism and content creation, previously working for SB Nation, The Associated Press, New York Daily News, SNY, and Front Office Sports. In 2016, he received New York University's CCTOP scholarship and earned a bachelor's degree in Communications from St. John's University. He can be spotted a mile away thanks to his plaid suits and thick New York accent. Don't believe us? Check his Twitter @APooch.