What Betting on Himself Means for Lamar Jackson

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 2 - It's inspiring to imagine a lone Lamar Jackson walking out with a laser sword and facing down the combined forces of the evil empire.

There he is, the unassuming hero, armed not with a lightsaber but merely his prodigious talent, gumption, and a business acumen that makes Warren Buffett look like Uncle Billy from It's a Wonderful Life. The Baltimore Ravens quarterback stands firm in his contract demands, a true Jedi incapable of a single false twitch.

And then: Parry! Thrust! Scramble! Vrrrrm-vrrrm sound effect! Down go the greedy owners! And the agents who kowtow to them! The doubters! The haters! The fusty old NFL strategies! The outdated attitudes that perpetuate them! And down goes Deshaun Watson with his ill-gotten gains, too!

Slash! Flash! Lamar Jackson conquers greed, racism, and sexism, without the need for wide receivers, an agent, or conventional wisdom of any sort. When the smoke clears, Jackson stands all alone, brandishing a Lombardi Trophy, a fully-guaranteed $300-million contract, and a written apology from the NFL establishment.

A gratifying tale, to be sure. And like the scene from The Last Jedi from which the conceit is cribbed, also an illusion.

Jackson and the Ravens called off contract talks last Friday. Jackson is playing out the 2022 season on a one-year, $22-million option. All that is guaranteed to Jackson beyond that is that he has zero real control over the rights to his services: the Ravens can theoretically franchise tag him one year at a time until after the 2025 season.

Jackson spoke to reporters on Wednesday, politely refusing to answer three questions about his contract like Julius Caesar denying the Contract Squabble Emperor crown three times. Good for Jackson: it's not like he has made his negotiation timeline unclear. But there was a ton of talk about his contract situation last week. It's not really going to go away. And too much of that talk sounds more like wishcasting or fanfic than grounded analysis, or even good advice.

Lamar Jackson vs. the Money on the Table

Numerous sources reported last Sunday morning that Jackson turned down a six-year contract with $133 million fully guaranteed at signing: more guaranteed money than Kyler Murray or Russell Wilson got in their recent extensions. Those reports are credible: the Ravens are perhaps the least likely NFL team to leak self-serving bullsnot. Jackson, by all accounts, won't settle for anything less than the $230 million guaranteed over five years that the Cleveland Browns gave Watson.

Jackson then took the field in Week 1 and made it look easy—though not too easy—against a New York Jets team whose offensive game plan was to hope no one noticed them. Jackson ran off tackle on third-and-2 on the third play from scrimmage and took a nasty hit from two defenders. He popped right back up from the hit, something he always does, except for the times he didn't last year, resulting in five missed games.

The overall Ravens game plan was less option-heavy than usual, with Jackson often operating from the pocket. Perhaps the Ravens plan to protect Jackson by making their offense more conventional. Still, with six carries in Sunday's 24-7 Ravens victory, Jackson has now rushed 621 times in his career. Cam Newton rushed 599 times from his rookie year in 2011 through his 2015 MVP season.

We all know what happened to Newton after that. Jackson is smaller than Newton. He has been more reliant on his rushing ability so far than Newton. Every hit is a micro-withdraw from an account that currently has zero dollars in it beyond January.

As you watch Jackson in 2022, thrill to his highlights, root (probably) for his achievements, and (likely) bite your knuckles every time he plunges into the teeth of the defense or takes one of those hits out of bounds that never quite merit a roughness foul, please keep one fact in mind. Jackson is currently $111 million in the red. That's the $133 million guaranteed that the Ravens offered him minus the $22 million he's earning.

Jackson is risking $111 million guaranteed for a theoretical $230 million. He's doing so while incurring the injury risks of a quarterback and a running back. And he's trying to pry that money from a league determined not to turn fully guaranteed contracts into a policy.

That's what "betting on himself" really means for Jackson.

Lamar Jackson vs. Deshaun Watson

The question for Jackson is not whether or not he deserves top-tier quarterback money. The Ravens themselves believe that he does.

The question is whether Jackson deserves Watson money. And here we run into the semantics of the word "deserves," with its somewhat childish connotations.

  • Yes, Jackson deserves Watson's guaranteed money, because Jackson is a more accomplished quarterback than Watson and also is not a contemptible human being.
  • No, nobody "deserves" anything. This is business, not a trip to Dairy Queen after a tee-ball victory. Just because the Browns made a dubious business decision doesn't require the Ravens or any other team to act against its own best interest in the name of fairness.

Watson's contract did not reset the market: the Murray and Wilson contracts largely ignored it, just as the Josh Allen contract and subsequent quarterback megadeals (including Watson's) had almost nothing in common with Patrick Mahomes' $500-million white elephant.

Watson's deal also widened the rift between Jackson contract negotiation analysis and Jackson contract negotiation fanfic. Jackson is holding firm for $230 million on principle, in contrast to Watson, playing the role of a man without principles. It's easy to cast Jackson as the hero in a tale with a clear villain.

Once the Jackson negotiations become a morality tale, it's a short leap into a fairytale world where quarterbacks never get injured and every NFL coach/GM/owner either loves Jackson as much as we do or is a mustache-twirling Hydra agent who prefers a conventional pocket passer such as Mitch Trubisky. Farewell, messy world where the team that guarantees $45 million in 2026 risks ending up with the Porsche that has long been totaled. Hello, give-Jackson-ALL-the-money, not as a one-liner after a touchdown but as a philosophical stance!

Lamar Jackson vs. The Franchise Tag

Jason Fitzgerald at OverTheCap.com posted a sober, dollars-and-cents-oriented essay on Jackson's contract situation last week, from which Walkthrough has lifted a few numbers and thoughts. You should check it out. Fitzgerald is the best in the cap-analysis business, and his essay was a breath of fresh air last weekend, when the Jackson contract conversation was devolving towards holding your breath until you turn blue is the RIGHT way to get French fries instead of spinach.

Fitzgerald notes that the most likely short-term scenario moving forward is that Jackson enjoys another fine season and the Ravens slap him with an exclusive franchise tag which will cost them about $45 million. Both sides will then be motivated to get back to the table: Jackson in search of long-term guarantees and the Ravens in search of short-term cap relief.

If you are keeping score, the exclusive tag will leave Jackson $133 - $22 - $45 = $66 million in the hole through two seasons, and once again gambling against injuries as his odometer spins higher and higher.

Fitzpatrick doesn't think that the Ravens would risk the lower non-exclusive franchise tag of $33 million, because teams could then outbid the Ravens for the price of two first-round picks. Walkthrough doesn't think that will happen either, though there are damaged-goods scenarios where they might try it.

Fitzpatrick also feels that Jackson's injury risks are overstated, because he can only cite two compensation-devastating quarterback injuries in recent memory: Teddy Bridgewater and Alex Smith. I disagree here. Last I checked, the 33-year-old Newton wasn't playing for a nine-figure contract. Tony Romo retired when he was a year younger than Matt Ryan is now. A quarterback does not need a gruesome injury to lose marketability, especially…

  • in a market with increased quarterback fluidity;
  • when long-term guarantees are factored into the equation as they now are, unlike when Dak Prescott played Franchise Tag Roulette with the Cowboys; and
  • when already coming off one season-ending injury, meaning a second injury would label him (an undersized scrambler) "injury-prone."

Let's say Jackson misses two-and-a-half games this season with a sprained ankle. Let's say his performance also lands somewhere between 2019 and 2020 levels: 2,800 passing yards, 700-plus rushing yards, a winning record as a starter, another playoff loss in which Jackson doesn't quite look like peak Mahomes, Allen, or Wilson.

Does that really sound like a quarterback a team should make a guaranteed five-year commitment to?

After the hypothetical, non-disastrous, in-character season described above, Eric DeCosta and the Ravens might say, "Sorry, that offer from last September is off the table. We're now thinking three years, $140 million or so, $90 million guaranteed, a fourth void year to spread the bonus out. Whattaya say?"

Jackson should say yes, because such a deal would place him at $22 + 90 = $112 million in earned or guaranteed compensation, not far behind the $133 million he left on the table. He could then "gamble on himself" to earn the non-guaranteed dough and/or force another, bigger extension. If he says no to a lowball offer, Jackson is back down to playing on the tag and being $66 million in the hole.

And what happens if the whole process repeats itself after the 2023 season? Maybe the Ravens offer 140/90 again. Jackson is then finally, two full seasons in the future, ahead of the $133 guarantee he left on the table: $22 + $45 on the tag + $90 = $157 million guaranteed. But if he says no—if he's miffed at the size of the deals, if it's Watson-or-bust—the Ravens can just franchise him again with a 20% raise. That would place him at $133 - $22 - $45 - $54 = $12 million behind what he is currently earning, and once again taking on the risk of a one-year commitment.

Even if the Ravens tag Jackson in 2023, then say "Great work Lamar! Let's talk about that $133 million guaranteed again!" Jackson is still behind Watson's $230 guarantee at $22 + $45 + $133 = $200 million earned or guaranteed.

Yes, this gets confusing, which is why folks hire agents.

Meanwhile, somewhere along the way, the Ravens draft a quarterback in the second round. They keep tabs on the mentor-types who might get them through a year. The Ravens aren't Washington, who were too dumb to seek any alternatives while franchising Kirk Cousins, or the Cowboys, who did the same thing with Prescott. If the Jackson negotiations continue to drag out the way they already have, they'll seek alternatives that don't strain all plausibility.

At some point, probably not in 2023 but after, the Ravens might just let Jackson walk. Then Jackson gets his dream. Or a rude non-surprise about how many teams say, "you know, our scheme is built for a traditional pocket passer…"

Do you understand the Ravens' side of the story now? They're not being cheap, evil, whatever. But they have options. And it makes business and football sense for them to exercise those options, whether we like it or not.

Lamar Jackson vs. Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow, and Russell Wilson

I would love to straight-facedly report that Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert will face the same problems that Lamar Jackson faces when they reach the extension market after this season. Oh, to live in the glorious paradise where there is no difference in how Jackson and Burrow/Herbert are perceived!

But seriously: even Burrow and/or Herbert, assuming they replicate/build upon their 2022 success, will probably end up settling for less than $230 million guaranteed. Their agents will play ball with the Chargers and Bengals, allowing for staggered bonuses and workout clauses, doing all the complicated little things that protect their client's interests (lots o' money, reasonable guarantees), the team's interests (less guaranteed cash in escrow, an end-of-contract ripcord if not completely satisfied) and their own (big honking commission, huge bottom-line number for Adam Schefter that secures the next client). They might sign extensions before Jackson, because Tom Condon (Burrow) and Athletes First (Herbert) have experience with this sort of thing.

Jackson, the incorruptible hero of the tale we wish to weave, is above such greasy boardroom wheeling-dealing. Yet even Russell Wilson isn't so pure.

Wilson, you may recall, pioneered the short quarterback contract when he signed for four years and $87 million back in 2015, when seven-year deals were still in vogue. Wilson went on to earn $140 million over four years, then in 2019 leveraged the back end of that extension into a trade and $250 million over five years a few weeks ago. Wilson knows how to "bet on himself."

Those casting Jackson as a financial tactician cleverly waiting out the Ravens are faced with an inconvenient fact: no one has surfed the quarterback contract market as brilliantly as Wilson, but Wilson did not hold out for Watson-level guarantees in his August extension. Wilson and his representation also renegotiated each contract long before any deadlines, because—and this is the part I know most of the Internet has a hard time comprehending for some reason—money now is much better than money later, especially when you are currently undercompensated.

Let's say your services are worth $49 per hour now but you are only making $22 per hour. Someone comes along and offers you $49 per hour starting tomorrow. You turn that offer down for one full year because you are seeking $60 guaranteed in 2026. Well, if your services are really worth $60 per hour in 2026, you should be able to earn it. Or perhaps you will be stuck at $52 per hour on the back end of some agreement. But you are stuck in a far worse situation now! That $49 per hour on the table not only doubles your compensation but arrives immediately so you can put it to work for you.

Ah, but your career is dangerous, you say, and your earning potential could crash by 2026. All the more reason to replace $22 per hour with $49 per hour right away! Especially when that $49 is also guaranteed for a while, if not for as long as you like.

Wilson understood this. So did those representing Allen and Mahomes. So did Watson and his agent, really, with their unique and yucky leverage.

But let's go back to that dream scenario for Jackson. He wins another MVP award and the Super Bowl, beating Offensive Player of the Year Herbert or Burrow and the Chargers/Bengals in the AFC Championship Game. The Ravens are still reluctant to guarantee those future bucks, those fiends. Then Herbert and Burrow each sign for over $200 million in guarantees. The NFL realizes that the gig is up and that all great young quarterbacks are created equal. Jackson gets exactly what he wants, and the Ewoks dance to "Yub Nub."

Something like that really could happen, all snark aside. But some sort of messy compromise is more likely. And until that compromise is made, Jackson incurs all of the risk, this season and in virtual perpetuity.

Lamar Jackson vs. The Bottom Line

There's salary cap analysis and then there's writing an opinion column about what players deserve to get paid: two very separate things. Then there's the blurry situation where one seeps into the other. Lamar Jackson contract discussions get blurry fast. The result is muddled reasoning: yes, the franchise tag is real and his injury risk is higher than many other quarterbacks and his 2020/2021 weren't resounding triumphs, but have you considered the fact that I don't like acknowledging those things, and therefore Jackson is doing the right thing?

Look, I want Jackson to earn untold riches. There's a vicarious element to that. I like to pretend that I would stand on principle for the type of contract everyone in my industry deserves. I also like to pretend, as a fiftysomething man with a math degree, that I could negotiate nine-figure contracts without help in my spare time, even though I can't get three sentences into a student loan document without surrendering in bewilderment.

Lots of us, colleagues and readers and fans, wish we were as courageous as Jackson, just as we wish we were as gifted as Jackson. That makes it gratifying to tell a tale of how his attempt to fight for the little guy stick it to the establishment is 100% Star Wars and 0% Don Quixote or Moby Dick. But those percentages are far from accurate.

There are many more paths toward not getting Watson-level guaranteed money than toward getting it. And many of those paths jeopardize the $133 million he could already be making. A few lead to disaster. And it feels false and lazy to cheer Jackson on as he takes this unnecessary risk, because frankly, I think he made a huge mistake.

If I'm wrong, we get to enjoy Jackson's storybook ending. But that's just not the most likely result.

Comments

126 comments, Last at 20 Sep 2022, 7:53pm

1 Mahomes and Watson's…

Mahomes and Watson's contracts are interesting opposites. Mahomes's contract at this point is closing in on Brady-level team friendly, and for Mahomes it makes total sense: he'll make more money off his image long-term than in football. And Watson's contract is the most expensive in football, which, again, for him makes total sense, since he's the most toxic quarterback out there and likely won't earn much outside of football at all.

So when you go to Lamar Jackson, the one point no one's bringing up is that he has essentially no endorsement deals (which could be related to the whole lack of agent thing). This is exceptionally weird: as everyone knows now, Herbert's got his own deals (with that commercial burned into my brain), Murray, Prescott, and Josh Allen have been on TV plenty, Mahomes is everywhere, etc. I think that's the big difference here: basically all the QBs in the NFL except Watson and Lamar are building images and brands maximizing every NFL dollar just isn't that important.

I mean, consider this:

Tony Romo retired when he was a year younger than Matt Ryan is now.

Tony Romo is making $17M/yr now to sit down and watch football and not get his bones progressively pummeled into powder, and that ignores all the other marketing and endorsements he has.

The real risk to Lamar Jackson isn't injuries. The real risk is irrelevance.

8 Re: the absence of…

Re: the absence of endorsement and the nature of his negotiations -- I wonder if it's as simple as Jackson just isn't money-motivated and it is purely about the principle.

He's ego driven about the price demand, but doesn't really need the money itself in a utility manner. (Essentially, on a marginal utility basis, his current wealth satisfies his internal need for wealth -- additional wealth serves no happiness purpose from a utility perspective -- anything further is purely from a satisfaction/philanthropic basis that's a separate analysis)

Also, Washington can tell you about how serial franchise use murders your cap and kills all your monetary flexibility.

13 Me,  I wonder if Jackson is…

Me,  I wonder if Jackson is dissatisfied with the organization in some other sense and basically wants out. He could demand a trade but I'm not sure he has a no trade clause to control the destination. 

63 That's what I thought (not a…

That's what I thought (not a contract person, so figured I could be wrong).

So if he wants out without being a total jerk about it(no point asking for a trade if he can't control the destination), this is the only way he can go.  

67 Yeah, I agree. I don't…

Yeah, I agree. I don't actually even disagree with the Ravens being OK with letting him go: when you've got as unique a QB as Lamar is there's always the possibility that it won't work long-term schematically. Losing a QB isn't the end of the world: all franchises lose their QB eventually.

73 The concept of 'long-term'…

The concept of 'long-term' shouldn't be applied in this instance tho.  A 5 year contract for a Qb in his 20's is not long term.  The Ravens reportedly offered somewhere around what Wilson and Murray got guaranteed, which is essentially 4 years guaranteed. So how could guaranteeing one extra season imply long term commitment ? If the ask is only a 5 year guarantee, there isn't really an incentive to let Lamar walk other than the owner making it about power. 

112 $133M is a 3-year contract…

$133M is a 3-year contract guarantee, not a 4 year one. So it's a 2-year difference, really, plus of course the owner has to escrow an additional ~$120M. Which I know everyone here dismisses, but I really don't. If billionaires threw around $100M like it was candy they wouldn't be billionaires pretty quickly.

120 Billionaires would throw…

Billionaires would throw around $100M for some Harvard MBA with the right nudges and winks (aka the right connections), but they won't do it for the guys who do the real work. 

I would guess that Lamar Jackson makes more money for the Ravens than their entire front office. But he's not of their class.

That said, I wouldn't want to make Deshaun Watson my comp for pricing.

71 no endorsement deal?

Lamar does have an endorsement deal with Oakley and could have others lined up based on his choosing.  He also has an apparel company that he's branded and has already invested in several businesses around his hometown.  Who knows what else his portfolio includes but the fact he represents himself should indicate he's pretty savvy. All of this plus his personal interests that are privately maintained adds up to a player who should be well positioned beyond the football field. 

Not really sure how you could make that type of assumption without having inside ties to Lamar's personal interests. 

113 Have you looked at his…

Have you looked at his apparel company? It's... not exactly a serious undertaking. And the Oakley deal is "hey can you wear this visor."

All of this plus his personal interests that are privately maintained adds up to a player who should be well positioned beyond the football field. 

I'm not saying he's not business savvy or won't be well-positioned. I'm saying he isn't making money off his image like other players in his position are. I'm not even sure there's a single commercial with him in it currently airing (other than ones he might be obligated to be in with others).

Again: this isn't a judgement at all, no one says "you must do commercials to be a great NFL QB!" He's just a pretty clear outlier in this sense.

2 Watson's deal also widened…

Jackson is 8 years younger and has 200 fewer rushes than Russ does. He has actually won a playoff game and won games in the second half of seasons. It's not insane to be asking for more than Russ and Kyler got.

another playoff loss in which Jackson doesn't quite look like peak Mahomes, Allen, or Wilson.

What was the peak-Russ playoff game?

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/W/WilsRu00/gamelog/post/

Russ's high-usage playoff games come in losses. His team wins more when he's asked to do less.

His only big-volume win was this one:
https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/W/WilsRu00/gamelog/post/

When Seattle beat a team with no healthy linemen or receivers, by injuring both of their QBs with cheap-shots because they could only generate 17 points.

Watson's deal also widened the rift between Jackson contract negotiation analysis and Jackson contract negotiation fanfic. Jackson is holding firm for $230 million on principle, in contrast to Watson, playing the role of a man without principles. It's easy to cast Jackson as the hero in a tale with a clear villain.

It's a neat tactic, in that Jackson is applying pressure directly against NFL ownership and the NFL front office.

Even if he gets hurt, he's still more important to his team's success than Watson was, has missed less time than Watson did, and is still the white knight.*

It may work better if he pushed it more. The Baltimore-Cleveland aspect makes it more fun, too.

\* -- pay no attention to the fact that Lancelot was totally sexually harassing Guinevere.
\\ ...and Galahad's mother.

3  It's a neat tactic, in…

It's a neat tactic, in that Jackson is applying pressure directly against NFL ownership and the NFL front office.

Doing it to a team that won a Super Bowl and had multiple playoff appearances with a guy who's currently the backup QB for the Jets might not exactly be a winning strategy.

4 The Ravens won that title…

The Ravens won that title because Flacco went supernova during the playoffs.

Jackson isn't necessary working just against the Ravens -- he's applying political pressure to all the teams. 

6 Yeah, I guess that wasn't…

Yeah, I guess that wasn't worded well. I'm not suggesting the Ravens won despite Flacco. I'm suggesting that because the last time a QB put the screws to them and they folded it turned out to be a long-term mistake, they might not be so willing to do it again.

9 That's not really a threat…

That's not really a threat to Jackson. He would love to be able to test Biggest Dumbass Theory with 31 teams, some of which are run by Snyders, Davises, Fords, and McCaskeys.

His concern is serial franchise tag use, which has its own complications.

\Biggest Dumbass Theory is that your contract is set by that which the Biggest Dumbass is willing to offer.

12 Generally it's a bad idea to…

Generally it's a bad idea to build your brand by portraying yourself as only interested in going somewhere for the most cash and doing so in such a way that it tanks your franchise's chance for success. Also known as the Kirk Cousins method (although I have some hope for them this year).

20 It's really weird. He does…

It's really weird. He does have his own "clothing brand" but... it's kinda terrible. 3 shirts ($10 each!), 4 jackets ($300 each?!?), all basically just touting the fact that he won MVP, just different colors, and decorated... with... statistics? It's... odd, to say the least. And the website, uh... yeah. Does not fill me with warm fuzzy feelings about spending hundreds on clothing.

Obviously Florio from PFT has been pushing "dude get an agent" hard with him and I usually disagree (I don't think agents necessarily get you the boost he thinks they do - contract values are so predictable at this point) - but in this case, I kinda do.

21 I really don't think it…

I really don't think it matters at all if a quarterback strives for every single dollar from a fan perspective. If the player is great, that's all fans will care about. In fact, A lot of studies show that the average person actually enjoys the fact that celebrities live this elevated rich lifestyle. 

Rather the hate for the ultra Rich seems to be aimed at the typical entrepreneur. 

31 The other problem with that…

The other problem with that tactic is it won't work if Jackson is the only one using it. This can only work if lots of QBs use it in unison.

Since that is highly unlikely to happen, the Ravens will just come up with (if they haven't already) a contingency plan and Jackson at some point will have to decide if he wants to back down, try the Cousins gambit, or walk away from the game.

34 I think IF Lamar gets it,…

I think IF Lamar gets it, then it may start to cause ripple effects. 

The Cousins gambit didn't kill Washington because Cousins wasn't viewed in the same lens as Jackson. A team like the Ravens can probably survive the PR hit letting Jackson walk because they have been so successful in the past. But if this were a team like the Jaguars or the Lions - ownership would probably need to sell the team. 

Honestly, if Lamar gets it, then I would expect Herbert to credibly demand for a fully guaranteed contract. 

5 In a way, I really admire…

In a way, I really admire Lamar Jackson holding out for the guarantees. If Cleveland can match it, the logic goes, what exactly stops the rest of the league? Also, if it takes the exclusive franchise tag, doesn't that imply there is another team out there willing to fork over 2 first rounders and guarantee the whole deal?

7 If Cleveland can match it,…

If Cleveland can match it, the logic goes, what exactly stops the rest of the league? 

The Chiefs, the Bills, and the Cardinals, all of whom will have dramatic cap space advantages over any team that does.

Also, if it takes the exclusive franchise tag, doesn't that imply there is another team out there willing to fork over 2 first rounders and guarantee the whole deal?

I think that's the point, and in some sense I don't blame the Ravens: two first rounders plus an opposing team likely puts themselves at a serious disadvantage for years? When you're one of the best-drafting teams in the league? Sounds like a win-win to me.

10 If they do -- Jackson: …

If they do --

Jackson: "Steve Bischotti is holding me hostage because I'm a black man who is not a rapist."

Which is a horrible, horrible look. Teams have looked worse (Cleveland, Houston, DC, Miami, New England...) But it's a self-inflicted wound.

16 The response to that is…

The response to that is beyond easy. You come out and condemn the utter garbage out of the Cleveland Browns. Biscotti already has. You say that the Cleveland Browns set an utterly reprehensible precedent with their actions and in no way, shape, or form will you let it dictate the path of your franchise. You point to Kyler Murray's contract, to Patrick Mahomes's contract, and say you're absolutely willing to make a long-term commitment to Lamar Jackson and tout the total dollar amount you offered and paint the guarantee as something you fiscally can't do (because guaranteed money has to be escrowed).

You talk about how the Ravens have always supported their quarterbacks strongly, through struggles and difficulty and how they want to be committed to Lamar, just like they committed and stuck with Joe Flacco for 11 years.

Jackson trying to pull that would blow up in his face. It's an easy counter, and unlike Jackson, the Ravens pay people to manage public relations.

18 Again, if it takes the…

Again, if it takes the exclusive franchise tag, doesn't that imply Cleveland is far from the only team that is crazy/stupid/ridiculous enough to do this? I feel like if the franchise tag didn't exist, The Ravens would be crying Uncle right now. 

 

26 No, not necessarily. All…

No, not necessarily. All going for the exclusive franchise tag means is that you're pretty sure that if you do offer the non-exclusive, someone else will offer a contract that will effectively bump it up in value to the exclusive anyway.

I mean, the exclusive franchise tag's $45M, which is under the yearly value that Murray got and way under what Wilson got: and while those aren't really over $45M in value for 2023 alone, it's close enough. I actually wouldn't be surprised if they just go for the standard one though.

29 If I asked you right now, if…

If I asked you right now, if there was a team out there willing to offer Lamar Jackson the entire boat guaranteed, are you really going to say the answer is zero?

Because I don't believe that for a second

32 Watson's contract in flat…

Watson's contract in flat value is only marginally under the exclusive tag for next year anyway. If the Ravens non-exclusive tag him and someone comes and offers him a 5-year $250M fully guaranteed contract, that's almost exactly the same per-year value as the Ravens paying him $45M for 1 year.

You're assuming that the full guarantee is the only issue. I'm saying even if the Ravens are happy to match the guarantee, if they offer the non-exclusive tag there's a good chance they'll end up having to match a larger per-year value than $45M.

36 Here's what I am arguing…

Here's what I am arguing with you about. 

 You come out and condemn the utter garbage out of the Cleveland Browns. Biscotti already has. You say that the Cleveland Browns set an utterly reprehensible precedent...

I think Lamar can credibly say, "Cleveland may have looked foolish, but that doesn't mean that they are the only team out there willing to do it. In fact, I can guarantee there probably is another team out there willing to do it"

You've implied only Cleveland was stupid enough to do this. I am arguing, no, I bet there are other teams willing to do it right now AND fork over 2 first rounders. 

39 Here's what I am arguing…

Here's what I am arguing with you about. 

That comment was in response to the previous post where Lamar would "strong-arm" the Ravens by comparing to Cleveland. The response to that is what I said.

The response to Lamar being offered a non-exclusive tag and being signed by another team who gives him a fully guaranteed contract is "we tagged Lamar with the non-exclusive tag to give him a chance to talk to other teams to find a situation that he would be happy, and he found a team he was comfortable with in Team X. Ultimately we decided to go a different direction, since we have to focus on what's best for the Baltimore Ravens. We wish Lamar the best and are focused on bringing continued success to Baltimore."

Different situations, different spin. Note the early part: you go and claim that putting the non-exclusive tag on him was a gift to him. See, you're the nice guys.

44 Jackson signing with another…

Jackson signing with another team over a non-exclusive tag is basically a win-win for both sides.

It gets Jackson rich and out, and Baltimore walks away with a ton of money and picks and an excuse for letting him go.

But Tanier's article was about Baltimore just exclusive tagging him twice and treating him as the world's highest-profile indentured servant, and how ethics be damned, he's stupid for not serving Massah up in the Big House.

49 But Tanier's article was…

But Tanier's article was about Baltimore just exclusive tagging him twice

If I'm Lamar (betting on myself) and the Ravens are content to franchise tag me twice, of course I'll take it. $121M for 3 years and free agency in '25 at age 28? Sign me the hell up.

How much will Kyler Murray earn from '22-'24? $107.85M.
How much will Russell Wilson earn from '22-'24? $124M.

Mike makes the argument that Lamar will be still $9M behind because the Ravens offered $133M guaranteed. No, the Ravens offered $133M guaranteed plus you're under our control until '28. That's a significant negative: far, far more than the $9M difference.

A 20% year-over-year raise vastly exceeds what typical QB contract growth is. You're welcome to think that the franchise tag hurts Lamar's value. I don't agree. The last two QBs to play under it are two of the highest-paid QBs in the league.

65 If Jackson continues to play…

If Jackson continues to play well, the franchise tag doesn't hurt him. He was MVP in 2019 but hasn't topped 300 DYAR since(injuries contributed both times I think).  If he does that again(say more injuries) he may not get a second franchise tag. The tag doesn't hurt his value, the risk is that injuries hurt his value. 
 

66 His only realistic injury…

His only realistic injury risk is this year. After this year it'd be trivial to just back up the next year with an insurance policy (see below). $45M for a single year in '23 is the highest paid QB in football, especially with no agent. And if he does get injured in '23, the policy would cover a large portion of the lost value of the next year to catch up to the $133M.

 

23 You just have to spin it. It…

You just have to spin it. It's not hard. They pay people for stuff like this. You come out and talk about how the Ravens have X employees and are supporting Y numbers of families and charities you have to plan long term blah blah blah. You come out and say we worked hard to find a compromise that both sides would be happy with, but it didn't work out, and you have to make the best moves for your franchise, etc. etc.

30 First off, even with the…

First off, even with the spin job, do you think the average fan is going to believe the Ravens are lacking in money because of all of the charities they donate to?

Second off, I just don't think that matters at all for Lamar Jackson, nor should it 

33 I think if the Browns can…

I think if the Browns can spin signing Watson, the Ravens can spin not paying Lamar Jackson.

This discussion did not have anything to do with the effect on Lamar, it was about how it would look for the Ravens.

35 Cleveland's spin is trivial…

Cleveland's spin is trivial.

"We want to win. No matter how evil we have to be."

That's functionally how the Raiders and Patriots spun their dynasties. It's basically been the appeal of tyrants since the formation of tyrannies.

40 Well, yeah. Because the…

Well, yeah. Because the owner's an idiot. Idiots generally hire less competent people, including less competent PR people. No sane PR person would've let Watson talk without knowing what he was going to say.

50 Sports teams basically have…

Sports teams basically have captive audiences due to regionalization. The absolute worse case for the Ravens is...they franchise tag him (twice?), fail to reach a deal and he walks. 

If they know he is gonna leave they can just trade him. (His value will be high unless he totally tanks the next two years, look at Wilson).

Worse case is he strings them along, can't get a contract after the end of the second tag season and leaves. Even if he gets an enormous deal somewhere(who knows what it will be by then, 300M?) else and turns out awesome they can survive. Even if the 1% chance happens and he goes somewhere and  finds Brady's fountain of youth, it's not that bad. They look bad in hindsight, but it happens.
 

The Chargers moved on from Bree's and they were fine. Unless they really bork the PR I don't think it really hurts them that much. 

 

57 The Chargers moved on from…

The Chargers moved on from Bree's and they were fine.

Letting your QB walk to a distressed franchise where he wins their only SB title while you waste the primes of two HOFers, the careers of your HOVG QB and coach, get told to leave by your city, and end up as the 4th most popular football team in your city and the 2nd place tenant of your building is certainly a kind of fine.

61 Well, even if they kept…

Well, even if they kept Brees they would still be the chargers. NE isn't getting that much flak for not keeping Brady. Heck, in terms of team building they could have tagged and traded him. 

I think the Ravens can survive moving on if someone threw a crazy contract at Lamar. 

And it's not like they won't look bad if they throw Watsons contract at Jackson and he repeats the last two years till the end of it. Damned if you do...

70 ???

And you're blaming Philip Rivers for all that?? (now go ahead and pretend that you're somehow some way not)

74 Lord no. The Chargers waste…

In reply to by BigRichie

Lord no. The Chargers waste every good thing that falls into their laps. They wasted Fouts, Winslow, and Coryell, too.

Letting your QB walk to a distressed franchise where he wins their only SB title while you waste the primes of two HOFers, the careers of your HOVG QB and coach

This was the Rivers reference. They wasted him, too.

11 I more or less agree with…

I more or less agree with this entire column, but I wanted to confess how much I loved

That makes it gratifying to tell a tale of how his attempt to fight for the little guy stick it to the establishment is 100% Star Wars and 0% Don Quixote or Moby Dick.

Well Done

15 Russell Wilson Negotiating Strategy

It needs to be remembered that Wilson's father was a smart, successful lawyer.  Sometimes the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

24 I really wish we lived in…

I really wish we lived in the universe where the franchise tag didn't exist. I know it doesn't bother most people here because Lamar Jackson is going to be mega-rich playing under the franchise tag or signing a long-term contract. But it strikes me as thoroughly anti-American in the worst way. I just really find it disgusting that the players association allowed this. 

The reason I bring this up is because, without it, Lamar would be getting a fully guaranteed contract. Maybe not from the Ravens but as I mentioned above the fact that it's going to take the exclusive franchise tag suggests there are a number of teams that are going to be willing to do this.

Whether teams should do this or are dumb for doing it beside the. But the fact is if they are willing to do it then he's worth the fully guaranteed money

42 I can't believe is still does exist

When the franchise tag came in the early 90's it was basically Plan B-minus.  The league mutated "first refusal on all players" to "first refusal on favorite players".

I'd have been astonished then to think it'd still be there in the 2020s.  I guess the NFLPA doesn't prioritize removing it because at the end of the day its usually $$$

 

 

45 For the rank and file, its…

For the rank and file, its largely irrelevant and this latest CBA suggests thats who it was written to appeal to. Its fascinating to see the contrast between the NBA's players union and the NFLs. The Stars in the NBA, by virtue of the max salary, are effectively subsidizing the middle class. In the NFL, the stars get as much as they can and the rest are paid peanuts by comparison. 

Leaving aside fairness, it does mean that the NFL PA is going to vote based on the interests of the majority at the expense of the minority. And since the FT affects a tiny segment of players under it + some others(remember, its depressing salaries which affect other great players at the time of negotiation); it just becomes a willing concession.

Similarly, I was floored and furious when the NFLPA voted to extend the season by one week while also NOT prorating that extra week's paycheck based on the contract. That was frankly absurd that it went through like it did. 

Not to turn this into politics, but there is a reason why the framers of our constitution were afraid of the majority passing laws at the expense of the minority. Much like how Uganda went after the Gujaratis; the FT, while a minor nuisance in the grand scheme of things, bothers me on a philosophical level.

52 Similarly, I was floored and…

Similarly, I was floored and furious when the NFLPA voted to extend the season by one week while also NOT prorating that extra week's paycheck based on the contract.

What are you talking about? That's exactly what they did. All contracts written pre-22 were up-valued by per-week salary. That's the whole "blah blah Wilson missed out on $X" kerfluffle thing, because his new contract includes value from his old contract, but they didn't multiply it by 17/16 like it would have been if he had actually played under it.

68 Collectively-bargained…

Collectively-bargained agreement.

You would be better off hiring a Congressman to write a federal law against the practice.

\you can go the anti-trust route, but you need to dissolve your union first.

78 Yeah but

Of course the only thing worse than tyranny of the majority is tyranny of the minority (the most extreme example being a dictator who makes the rules for everyone else). Would it be better if the NFL set the financial rules without negotiating with any of the players? While we might dream of a free market where anyone gets paid their true worth, it would probably end up like the old NFL, with no free agency at all. But that's also because the NFL has a monopoly on the game of football... maybe the players would go to a different league with better financial rules, but now we're going really deep into fantasyland.

124 The most American thing in…

The most American thing in the world until the 1980s was baseball. I suggest you look at how MLB handled contracts during that time, and you'll see the franchise tag as an improvement on most of that.  

28 I think tannier overall is…

I think tannier overall is correct. Applaud Lamar for being principled, But I don't think this is the wise move. He's assuming all of the downside risk for a small probability of getting what he wants. The franchise tag looms as the ultimate contract deflationary tool. Playing another year and risking another set of injuries in pursuit of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is assuming additional risk. After 2 years of wear and tear, it is very possible at that point there will be 0 teams offering full guaranteed plus league setting earnings. 

Lamar is not going to be earning this kind of money into his 50s. These are close to one time only windfalls. And the Ravens will survive without Lamar. BIschotti has tasted sb victories. They can afford to play hardball, Lamar really can't.

You add it all up and I just don't think Lamar has the kind of leverage where it's worth playing Russian roulette for whatever extra guarantees he's going after. 

41 If you really wanted to dick…

If you really wanted to dick a team over, you'd sign the exclusive tag on the Tuesday after week 10. They've have to eat half the exclusive tag cap hit, but functionally you'd only be available for like 6 season games.

So you're just crushing the team's financial space  -- and they also need to pay for an additional starting QB -- but only exposing yourself to like 30% of the wear-and-tear. 

46 Honest, if maybe stupid question, but....

...can't Lamar offset at least some of his future income risk with personal injury insurance?  Or is this not a thing for NFL players?

Mariah Carey insures her voice for $35m;  she doesn't (only) seek to negotiate a guaranteed contract with Columbia. 

55 You probably COULD but the…

You probably COULD but the premiums would be sky-high I bet, esp bc it's not usually done and there isn't much baseline to measure the risk. There is also a super high risk of it paying out, and his career isn't that long. Also, have fun reading that yourself.. Also, 35M is like less than one year salary for him. 

 
It's kinda like IBM will basicly give you service contract on any piece of tech if you pay them enough. 

56 Yup. He could. And should…

Yup. He could. And should. Without a doubt. He's underpaid in '22 (this year) but if the Ravens do tag him in '23 and '24, he should be perfectly happy to take it and just stash some of it in a policy. The risk he then carries isn't injury, it's skill.

Jay Ajayi and Chance Warmack are two of the higher-profile players who have gotten payouts from that. Jameis Winston famously had a $10M policy running at $60k premium value, so not really that bad.

The NCAA white paper pegged premiums at 1-3%, surprisingly close to an agent's cut.

47 I feel much less old now

Jackson gets exactly what he wants, and the Ewoks dance to "Yub Nub."

Bless you, bless you, bless you for referring to that scene via the (clearly and obviously superior) "Yub Nub", rather than the re-scored SE version.

48 .

.

69 Has the $133 million figure…

Has the $133 million figure actually been verified as unconditionally guaranteed, or are we taking the Ravens’ word on that?

86 I don’t doubt that the…

I don’t doubt that the contract contained $133mm in guarantees, but there’s a difference between “sign this contact, and we’ll deposit $133mm in your bank account immediately” vs “sign this contract, hit all your incentive goals, don’t get hurt, don’t suddenly decline and get cut, etc. and by the time the contract expires we will have deposited at least $133mm in your bank account”. Both of those scenarios can be reported as $133mm in guarantees, but Tanier’s reasoning only applies to the former. 

88 Nope. 133 fully guaranteed…

Nope. 133 fully guaranteed means that's what he gets no matter what. He could be injured all 6 years and still get the 133M wo playing a game. 

https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/34566275/sources-believe-lamar-jackson-turned-baltimore-ravens-contract-offer-worth-250-million

If he hits all the incentives he would get 250M.

90 I wish I could ask the…

I wish I could ask the Ravens brass what their biggest hang up is for handing over a contract that's fully guaranteed.

Is it that they are afraid of the dangerous precedent it's going to send. Or are they legitimately afraid that Lamar Jackson won't be able to honor a contract that's 100 percent guaranteed.

And honor could imply he is going to get injured, He's going to decline or he's going to lose the incentive to get better knowing that all of this money is his no matter what he does on the field. I have no evidence to back this up, but I kind of suspect that the moment Joe flacco cashed into his Bonanza, he lost some incentive to continue to improve.

91 I would guess the first two,…

I would guess the first two, he had 34% DVOA in 2019 but was slightly negative every other year. Of course, you say the same thing about Watson (he had one good year), and Lamar is much lower risk to assault himself out of the league, but you could say that's why they are the Browns. 

Basically, if they get stuck paying Watson money for 300 DYAR a year(or it gets worse)...., so they may have wanted to hedge a bit.  If you put it that way, it makes sense to wait. If he plays well under the tag, they probably just pay him. If he can't seem to get back toward his elite form they may let him go and it won't look to bad.   The main risk is he plays well, but is so annoyed he won't take anything but a huge overpay from the team. Although they could trade if him that turned out to be the case unless he strings it along till the offseason and reaches FA.

 

125 I'm guessing it's injury risk.

Option QBs are QB/RB hybrids.  You expect a really good RB to have a 5-7 year career, with their best years heavily weighted toward years 1 through 3.

The more you behave like a RB as a player, the more like a RB you are for the pruposes of wear and tear.  And, wear and tear risk is something that every NFL team has to consider considering the baseline injury rate in the league is close to 100%.

100 That’s the latter, which…

That’s the latter, which invalidates Tanier’s reasoning in this article. 
 

$23mm for the fifth year option + $45mm on a franchise tag in 2023 + $54mm on a franchise tag in 2024 is $122mm. So three years is basically the break-even point. By rejecting the deal, Lamar is really just betting that he will still have suitors in 2025, which is probably a safe bet. Randall Cunningham was still a starter at age 35, which seems like Lamar’s floor. 

115 Yup. Mike's neglecting the…

Yup. Mike's neglecting the negative cost of still being under contract with the Ravens after '24, which is incredibly significant. Either Lamar's declined significantly, in which case he's still going to get $10M+, or he's still a high-end free agent QB in a year when teams will likely have a $270M+ cap.

It's the same mistake people make when they think that Dak Prescott's 4-year $160M contract looks cheap now. Hell no, it doesn't, the Cowboys have to start work on a contract extension after next year!

If the Ravens double-tag Lamar he'll have $122M and be in a free-agent market with Herbert, Burrow, and Prescott all having done or needing new deals. Plus Cousins, Goff, and Wentz, for what that's worth. Betting on himself definitely carries risk but it is absolutely worth it in terms of value.

72 Where is the risk

It's only a matter of time before top level QB's start getting the Watson level guarantee. The reason is simple: Paying a QB for 5 years guaranteed doesn't contain enough inherent risk to outposition the market. How risky is it for a team to simply grant a star QB coming off a rookie deal 5 years all guaranteed? 5 years is not a long commitment even in football. If a team is willing to put up enough money to guarantee the first four years of the contract, why not just bump it to 5 if  you are a franchise desperate for a star QB? 

 

75 Lamar's contract

What is Lamar worth?  According to FO last year, when Josh Allen signed, you need to count 2020 three times what you counted 2019.  Well Lamar now has 2020 and 2021, so 2019 is starting to be in the rear view mirror.

According to FO stats, Lamar was hardly an elite QB in 2020 or 2021.  So what do we make of this, I love DVOA and DYAR.

We all know that if Lamar had an agent he would have signed already, as the agent would not have accepted putting all of this time in and to date be paid $0.

As far as Cleveland goes, I support the argument that there will always be someone dumb enough out there to do what Cleveland did.  First off, Lamar is probably better than Watson who has not played for awhile, and secondly at $50 per bag, the wasted money on Watson baggage fees is astronomical.  Personally, I would rather fly on Lamar Airlines, the guy is clean as a whistle.

With regards to the Flacco deal, I feel that this is apples to oranges.  The Ravens had a 5 year sample size of a mediocre QB (well at least if the read FO they did) and then a 4 game sample size of Joe Montana leading to a championship.  Yes, Flacco had those QB WINZ, but then he played those 4 games where he actually created the WINZ, winning @NE with Brady and @ DEN with Manning, for good measure throw in budding stars Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick.  Ozzie was a genius, would anyone have been genius enough to walk from that championship QB?

Injury risk to Lamar is unproven as to whether he is more likely than the average QB to get hurt.  My main concern with him is the running back shelf life, although Lamar despises the running back label, the Cam Newton comments made by Mike Tanier seem very legitimate to me.

The idea that Lamar wants out of Baltimore made by a FO fan contributor above does make some sense to me.   Lamar has played 4 years with Mark Andrews, Who, What, I don't know, he sucks and @$@*& as receivers.  This certainly did not stop him in 2019.  He used to have an elite running game; last year was a shambles and although we do not know if Ronnie Stanley and Nick Boyle will solve this problem, we do know about the fungibility of RB's, so to think that J K Dobbins and Gus Edwards are the knights in shining armor to come to the rescue may be somewhat misguided.  A prior article that mentioned that Adrian Peterson and Le'Veon Bell, who recently fought, may be the Ravens week 9 RB combo is both funny and frightening, because if Dobbins and Edwards are not back to par, what else is there?

Let us also remember that the QB salary market increases every year, so each year of delay makes the $$$ higher.

In conclusion, I believe that Lamar's skill set is unprecedented and unique and therefore difficult to assess value.  As a Ravens fan I would hope that the Ravens pay Lamar a bit too much than to lose him completely (oh that dreaded mystery box), however, to pay him Mahomes money is absurd as he simply is not Mahomes.

As far as the mystery box goes any Ravens fan can give you much of this list, but here is the official Wikipedia list:

2000 Tony Banks Trent Dilfer 

2001 Elvis Grbac  Randall Cunningham 

2002 Jeff Blake Chris Redman 

2003 Kyle Boller  Anthony Wright 

2004 Kyle Boller 

2005 Kyle Boller Anthony Wright 

2006 Steve McNair 

2007 Kyle Boller Steve McNair Troy Smith 

 

 

 

76 " support the argument that…

In reply to by jheidelberg

" support the argument that there will always be someone dumb enough out there to do what Cleveland did"

I sort of recoil at the implication that any team doing this is stupid. I think there are justifiable reasons even if I happen to disagree. Take Cleveland. Other than 1 season where they reached the divisional round, it has been one painfully long, painfully consistent string of unwatchable football. And whether you believe that's related to ownership is sort of irrelevant if you are the owner. So now you have a chance to acquire someone like Watson. There are risks with Watson above and beyond his off the field issues, but that's probably true of any qb that ever gets into this situation. And consider this: They were facing the very real prospect of overpaying a mediocre QB who may even be worse than mediocre OR cutting bait and starting over once again into the QB lottery just as the rest of the roster was set for contention.  

Deshawn made it clear - you want my endorsement to go there, you better outbid the other teams. And they did. Stupid? I don't like calling it that, but too risky for my blood.

Circling back, Lamar is worth whatever someone is willing to pay. And given the scuttlebut, I think the Ravens KNOW there is someone likely out there who is willing to pay it. So Lamar is in effect worth 200+ million fully guaranteed. 

The next question is, are the Ravens better off in the long run paying Lamar this kind of money and it being fully guaranteed? For franchises that have had a record of long term futility (The jets, the Jaguars, the Lions); its probably a yes. For a team with a ton of success, its probably a maybe or a no. 

For the Ravens, its right on the knife's edge because while they've had lots of success, they've never been "fun" doing it. Note, "fun" here means offense fun. Fair or unfair, it is much much easier to be a casual fan of the Chiefs than it is to be a fan of the 2000s era Ravens. For however cool Raw Lewis and Ed Reed were; Ravens games usually were a painful slog on offense where the highlights almost all center around Tucker the hero kicker. 

So if I am the Ravens, I probably do it. It sucks, but its fun to have a good consistent offense for a change.  

80 What's fun is winning. They…

What's fun is winning.

They didn't win the most, but the team with the best enduring cultural cachet from the 1980s isn't the 49ers or the NFC East teams -- it's the 1985 Chicago Bears.

A team that paired an ept offense with an obliterating juggernaut of a defense. Not all that different from the Peak Ravens.

\You can ask Saints fans what all-offense 7-9 bullshit is like.

110 It's fair to say

It's also fair to say that the game is very different than it was when the 85 Bears or 00 Ravens tore everything apart.

Even the Saints' 7-9 all-offense seasons probably do better than 7-9 today.

Going the "fun" route is more potentially rewarding now than it's ever been.

101 So I agree with your…

So I agree with your statement that Lamar is worth whatever someone is willing to pay, basically you have defined a free market system.  Also, yes the Ravens KNOW there is someone likely out there who is willing to pay 200+ guaranteed.

The strategy is a good one or it is not, I can not agree with the fact that a franchise with long term futility should do such a move, unless it is a good move.  If it is not a wise move, doesn't it follow that the franchise has long term futility for a reason?   What is the team slogan?  We have Lamar now, so we can virtually guarantee that we will not be as bad as we have for the past few decades!  

How would you market a team such as Miami?  Come see the Dolphins battle like hell to barely make or miss the playoffs. Remember 2019, when we were at -80 DVOA through 4 games.  Bet you never thought we would make it this far.  Your grandfather remembers our championships, but you get to watch us muddle along at barely above mediocrity and see if we can pull off a New York Giants style 9-7 championship.  

The Colts are in the same boat as the Dolphins, however are filled with much more recent success.  If this is not a good strategy, should Miami bite, and subject their fans to 5-7 more years of 9-8, 10-7 ball?  Whereas the Colts should not do this because most of their fan base remembers Peyton Manning?  Or should the Colts bite so that in 2026 you could say, hey, isn't that the same guy that played QB for us last year?

104 This is a good post. I guess…

This is a good post.

I guess other than recent, and I mean RECENT, SB winners, I don't think it's palatable to walk on Lamar even at bad prices. I know DVOA paints him most recently as a tier 3 player, but to me at his best he's tier 2 with enough tantalizing upside to hit tier 1 status. I mean he did win MVP( yes yes I know Cam and Matt Ryan did too). So even at bad prices, it's not exactly a Cousins situation. 

Injuries and lack of longevity matter, but it's a 4-5 year contract. 

I maintain, I am on team bite the bullet, close your eyes and say your prayers and go for it. 

 

105 We are on the same team, the…

We are on the same team, the Ravens will do what it takes and Lamar will be a Raven regardless if it is via the Dak Prescott franchise tag then sign route, or a more direct route.

The list of QB’s from 2000-2007 is enough to scare anyone.  Joe Flacco in all his glorious mediocrity stabilized the franchise. 

106 There isn't enough info to…

There isn't enough info to say what Lamar is at this point. Mahomes was easy bc he was great a couple years so hoping it continues makes sense.

1)Due to either injuries or lack of ability he could be a guy who is closer to the last 2 years. Either great when healthy(which is rare) or just inconsistent.

2)you could say 2018 was a career year but the last two were injury related and he could be a solid tier 2(tier 1 in a good year) guy.

3)last 2 years were injuries and when he's healthy he's Steve young and manages stay on the field a reasonable amount.

There are a couple ways you get to 1. It's fine no matter what he gets in 3. Watson contract hurts in 2(kirk cousin route) but you probably still do it.

2 and 1 seems equally likely with some chance of 3. 

The Ravens trying to get 2 more years of data before going all in makes sense. 

 

107 Interestingly, the Bills,…

Interestingly, the Bills, faced with much less info, extended Allen before his fourth season. At that point, he had had 1 abysmal rookie year, one solidly bad second year, and one amazing, but not quite MVP Lamar/Mahomes year. 

At the time, I thought it was incredibly risky to extend Allen, who I felt was still way too much of an unknown. Taniers algebra had probabilities of him regressing below tier 3, which was equivalent to Armageddon. The Bills in hindsight were correct to sign him then,  though I'm curious how much waiting would have cost them if the extension came this year vs last. Perhaps Allen would demand a higher annual figure and all of it guaranteed. But I would have traded those costs for more certainty about what he is. There just was too much of a danger in my mind.

Well, the Ravens have waited as long as is reasonable where I think there is a genuine risk of alienating the player by going the FT route. I realize injuries make it seem like incomplete info, but you have 4 years of data. I think you just have to bake in the assumption that he's probably going to be a tier 2 player, with some upside of tier 1 and some downside of tier 3 but extremely unlikely to be tier 4 and worse. Add in some injury probabilities that make you uncomfortable, but something you have to live with.

He's 25 years old. It's probably a 5 year contract. The Cam Newton/McNair/Mcnabb longevity decline is probably not something to worry about with this contract.

79 we do know about the…

In reply to by jheidelberg

we do know about the fungibility of RB's

If RBs were actually fungible, losing their top two RBs wouldn't have mattered last year.

As it turns out, there is a difference between very good and not very good RBs.

122 You really nailed it…

In reply to by jheidelberg

You really nailed it regarding Jackson--he hasn't been an elite QB since the 2019 season and even that season ended with an embarrassing playoff blowout at home to the titans.  The next year in the playoffs he only put up 3 its against the bills before throwing a pick six and then missing the 4th quarter due to injury.  

 

I would be very reluctant to pay this guy a fully guaranteed $250MM

81 Injury prone

I would like to see a more quantitative analysis of Lamar being “injury prone” than the fact that he’s missed 5 games in 4 years or that he’s kind of like Cam Newton but not really.

The injury-prone worry tends to be thrown around about Lamar but not Joe Burrow (3 knees injuries in 2 years! And a play style that results in taking a lot of sacks!) and Josh Allen (actually a good comparison for Cam Newton based on running style)  

The sample size for running quarterbacks is just too small to say anything meaningful (hence why Cam is the only one that is ever brought up). But Russ, Randall Cunningham, and McNair all played well into their thirties.   

There is a valid comparison to all the evidence that running backs tend to wear down fast but running QBs run much much less frequently (like a third as much)

83 I think there was a study…

In reply to by gq

I think there was a study that showed that qbs got mostly injured on hits they didn't see coming. Or in that vein. Thus in that respect, whether Lamar runs once or 500 times a year is irrelevant and only the amount of blind shots he's taking is relevant to the matter at hand. Thus, in your example, Burrow represents a great injury concern than Lamar.

That said, I think the issue isn't JUST about injury but long term effectiveness. Of the mames you've provided: Cunningham played well into his mid 30s, but had clear injury issues that caused him to miss a lot of time, including retirement midway. And McNair's last truly great season came when he was 30. At 31 he experienced a lost year. At 32 he was a probowler but no longer the tremendous player he had been before. And that was basically the end of his career as well.

Then there are examples with McNabb if you want the original Cam Newton. 

I do think there is a view that Lamar's game is built on leg speed and thus if that declines, it will have a cascading effect on his overall ability, even if you think the injury issues are overblown

87 More emphasis on QB rushing…

More emphasis on QB rushing is kinda a recent thing, so not much sample size. Lots of guys who built a name on running declining when their running did other than Newton. Vick, Luck. Concerns about wilson were partly that he wasn't as mobile as he used to be.  

Jackson's career rushes per game is 10.5...which is higher than Josh Allen(7), Newton(7.6) and Vick(6.1). Early career Cunningham was about 7 or so.  So you could say it's a bigger part of his game than some others. 

None of those guys aged well either. He certainly could be fine, Mahomes mobility has declined...nobody cares. 

Given how hard it is to find a QB I'd probably still pay the guy for the reasons theslothhook mentioned, but I think there is legit concern. 

89 I have legitimate concerns…

I have legitimate concerns about mahomes's ability to age well. It feels like every game I see him play. He takes a nasty shot where he's coming up limping or shaking off something. 

To be clear, I expect him to age just fine into his mid-30s. It's past 35 that I have my worries.

I don't expect his arm talent to decline much over time. And like you said, his game isn't really built on mobility in the rushing sense. But Andrew luck got broken in half taking a million brutal hits. I do legitimately worry that Mahomes will eventually not have the physical ability to survive these hits playing the style he is playing.

Big Ben basically aged out in terms of effectiveness by around 35. I could see the same thing happening with Mahomes 

92 Mahomes is good enough that…

Mahomes is good enough that he's really hard to predict. 

Once QB manage to stay good past 35 it mostly seems to be injuries rather than decline that get you. I.e. guys figure out how to keep playing even with the decline and are pretty much fine till the wear and tear breaks something. Manning had his neck injury, Bree's had an arm thing IIRC. Ben's arm fell off, Brady is a cyborg.  

108 Agree about Mahomes and some…

Agree about Mahomes and some of the hits he takes. Although he benefits from not receiving the down after down pounding on a mediocre team with crappy play-calling as was often the case with Luck. His outrageous improvisational ability means you must expose him to some risk, but Reid certainly makes his life (relatively) easy in between, especially when they are (frequently) playing from ahead. 

Regarding Lamar, the risk is not now that he suffers a season-ending injury. Dak broke his leg retty badly and still got the biggest contract in history. It's that he suffers nagging injuries that he can play through, but limit his mobility and overall productivity. Baker Mayfield is instructive in this regard. Of course he is far behind Lamar in terms of their peak levels to date, but Baker was still in position to be well rewarded to stay in Cleveland after the 2020 season. Then last year he played through a partially torn shoulder, with extremely disappointing results. His reward? Being unceremoniously displaced, and having to wait until long into the off-season before Carolina grudgingly called on him. 

To that end, there are scenarios where Jackson's interests no longer necessarily align with the teams, and it could impact negatively on their season. They need him to gut through a couple games in November on a gimpy ankle? Maybe now not quite so willing.

 

95 Young ~ Lamar

I don't think either player is a great comp to Lamar Jackson career-wise.

Steve Young has been my comp for Lamar since Lamar came out of college.  Similar builds and run/pass profiles; similar bundles of raw talent.

Young evolved into something after ~7 years under Bill Walsh that, well, I wouldn't say it's likely anyone ever will, including Lamar.  Put another way, I do think Peak Steve Young -upside is in the range of conceivable outcomes for Lamar; but we'd have to say the likelihood isn't super high.  Potential to one side, Lamar's not getting the Iron Fist coaching in a no-free-agency era that Steve Young got. 

On the other hand Lamar has clearly been the much better player thru age 25, compared to Young – really it's not close – so who knows.

98 Lamar was a really polished…

In reply to by JimZipCode

Lamar was a really polished passer in college in a way Vick and Newton were not, and more in the Young mold.

He’s also mostly had hot garbage for receivers in a way Allen and Mahomes haven’t had.

111 Haven't watched much the last 2 seasons, have you guys?

The Steve Young comparisons are hilarious. Lamar does not throw the ball well. He had a Kordell Stewart year (Kordell could've easily won the MVP his one big year) when DCs had no idea as to how to defend this 21st Century single-wing offense. Since then he's been ... OK. Which is better than Kordell ever was again, But the last 2 seasons Lamar has been ... OK.

I don't care that Lamar really, really helped your fantasy teams back in '19. Nor do the Ravens. Nor should they.

A QB who has trouble throwing the ball outside the friggin' hashmarks will never have anything other than garbage for wide receivers.

126 Running QBs and QBs that Run

In reply to by gq

There's a big difference.

Cam and Cunningham were running QBs.

Russ, McNair, Young, etc. were QBs that ran.

 

Jackson, at this point is a running QB.  The sample size is VERY small, but it's probably correct to think of longevity as some mix of RB+QB with a higher risk of catastrophic injury.

93 Bad sign for Ravens fans

In potentially bad news for us Ravens fans, there's a quote from Calais Campbell from either today (Friday) or yesterday, where Campbell pointed out that NBA contracts are fully guaranteed, and I think MLB also, and that only happened because some trailblazing stars were willing to hold out for it.

I dunno if Campbell's history is correct – did guaranteed contracts in other leagues come about thru collective bargaining? – but the idea that Lamar might think he's blazing a trail for his brothers in the rank & file, feels like terrible news for Ravens fans.  Far better if his motivations were purely monetary.

96 Probably

I just would rather Lamar was thinking pragmatically and in money terms, than idealistically and in trailblazing / legacy to the players union terms.

102 Possibly true. According to…

In reply to by JimZipCode

Possibly true. According to this

https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/34566275/sources-believe-lamar-jackson-turned-baltimore-ravens-contract-offer-worth-250-million

The players union was advising him that he is worth a fully guaranteed contract. So they may be trying to set a precedent(the more there are). 

109 "Justified in asking for it"

The players union was advising him that he is worth a fully guaranteed contract.

The quote from the Schefter piece was, “The union advised Jackson that based on his performance and age, he was justified to demand a fully guaranteed contract, sources told Mortensen.”  I feel like there's a difference between “is worth it” and “is justified to ask for it”. 

You can ASK for anything in a negotiation.  And Lamar has as much right to make it a condition of his contract as anyone; more than most, including Deshaun.  But asking for it is not the same as getting it.

 

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