Just hours out from the NFL Franchise tag Deadline at 4:00 PM. Whatever happens with Lamar Jackson’s contract situation could determine where he plays football next season.
The former Louisville superstar was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens with the 32nd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Little did Baltimore know at the time, but Lamar Jackson would become a household name and the face of their franchise.
From 2018-2021, the Ravens signal caller exceeded great expectations on his rookie deal. The highest salary he received in that time frame was in 2021 when he made $1.77 million dollars. The following year, last season, the Ravens exercised his $23 million dollar option to bring him back for the 2022 season. And there is the genesis of his extension talks with the organization.
Not only has he had to carry the offense time and time again, he won the 2019 NFL MVP award, and notched his first playoff win in 2021 with a 20-13 AFC Wild Card win over the Tennessee Titans.
This is a much more significant resume that Deshaun Watson, who received a $230 million dollar fully guaranteed contract from the Cleveland Browns. This is arguably the biggest reason why contract talks have stalled for so long because Lamar knows what he is worth and the Ravens do not value him quite as high as he does.
Lamar Jackson is currently an unrestricted free agent, per Spotrac. But, if Baltimore tags him, either exclusively or non-exclusively, then they still maintain control on where he can go.
An exclusive franchise tag means:
"“Exclusive tags restrict negotiating rights to the tagging team and pay out an average of the top five salaries at the player’s position in the current year, or 120% of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater.”"
In other words, he would only be allowed to negotiate with the Ravens because they would hold his rights. If he were to receive the exclusive tag, then he would receive roughly $45 million dollars for this upcoming season. And the overhanging cloud of a long-term deal would continue to linger over this entire situation.
On the other hand, there is the non-exclusive tag, which means:
"“Non-exclusive tags, which are more common, pay out an average of the top five tag amounts at the player’s position from the previous five years (applied to the current cap), or 120% of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. Players who receive this tag can negotiate with other teams, but the tagging team has the right to match any offer — and would also receive two first-round draft picks in the event the player signs elsewhere.”"
In essence, Jackson would become a restricted free agent if he were to be tagged with the non-exclusive tag, meaning he can negotiate with other teams on a long-term contract extension and if he and another organization were to come to an agreement, then the Ravens would have the opportunity to match it, or let him walk for two first-round picks.
Jack Settleman, the CEO & Founder of Snapback Sports, reportedly has a source associated with the Baltimore Ravens and he recently tweeted this:
According to this, even if the Ravens were to tag him exclusively, it appears they do not want to pay him $45 million dollars for this season. If not, then they would seek to trade him and with a significant amount of teams looking for a franchise quarterback, they could get a decent haul for the former Heisman Trophy winner.
Teams like the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, and Atlanta Falcons are all in need of a quarterback and based solely on his NFL resume, Lamar Jackson would be a great candidate for a quarterback-hungry team.
If they tag him non-exclusively, then the possibilities are endless for him. Judging simply from that tweet, he could receive an astronomical number from the Atlanta Falcons, who could potentially be a great fit for the former MVP. Under contract for the Falcons right now is Louisville native and former St. X Tiger Desmond Ridder, but having the opportunity to snag Lamar Jackson would be worth it for the current state of that franchise.
The other team mentioned in the tweet are the Chicago Bears, who have been rumored on many occassions to be potentially shopping their number one overall pick in this year’s upcoming draft. If they were to sign Lamar, then they could send their number one overall pick and another first-round pick to the Ravens. Then trade Justin Fields for more assets and get the ball moving in the right direction for a franchise stuck in mediocrity for some time now.