NFL

Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens Suddenly Face an Awkward Problem

That the Baltimore Orioles appear committed to playing the 2021 MLB season is no longer the most horrifying news for local fans. Rather, Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are heading for a strained relationship.

That’s the way things roll these days when it comes to NFL teams and their quarterbacks.

It’s the winter of discontent for NFL quarterbacks

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Jared Goff reportedly was barely on speaking terms with his coach, and Matthew Stafford was more than just OK with a move. So, the Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions pulled off a rare two-quarterback trade earlier this year. That was soon followed by Carson Wentz being shipped out of Philadelphia.

Amazingly, those aren’t even the biggest of the big-name QBs who could have new addresses this fall. Deshaun Watson is adamant about leaving the Houston Texans. Meanwhile, Russell Wilson says he’d rather remain with the Seattle Seahawks but has given the team a shortlist of other cities he’d be willing to play in.

Consider the drama and intrigue to be preparation for what the Baltimore Ravens are in store for down the road. The Ravens were the only NFL team that wanted Lamar Jackson as a first-round quarterback in 2018, grabbing him with the 32nd pick. Now, they must prove to Jackson that they still want him for the long haul.

It may be easier said than done based on the way things are going with other teams and their quarterbacks.

It’s Lamar Jackson’s turn to get paid

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The 2018 NFL draft class has completed its third pro season, which means teams must decide about picking up fifth-year options. Among quarterbacks, No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson will see their options picked up. Josh Rosen was released and isn’t eligible for consideration. That leaves the New York Jets with a decision to make about Sam Darnold amid plenty of speculation.

Coming off a breakthrough season, Allen is about to get somewhere between the Patrick Mahomes and the DeShaun Watson treatment from the Buffalo Bills. Rather than merely picking up the option on Mahomes after his third season, the Chiefs gave him a record-setting extension and what comes close to a lifetime deal. Watson got four years and $156 million from the Houston Texans.

Jackson, who took the Ravens to the playoffs three straight seasons, has already been a first-team All-Pro and a league MVP. Understandably, he is looking forward to getting paid beyond the big money guaranteed through the fifth-year option.

Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are far apart

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Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens have begun discussions on a contract extension, the Boston Globe reported. The team and the quarterback’s agent are “far apart” after exchanging numbers, the paper reported, citing two sources.

Under terms of his four-year, $9.47 million rookie contract, Jackson is only due $1.7 million for the upcoming season. The Ravens aren’t going to give back that bargain of a year and are also understandably reluctant to agree to a deal requiring them to pay significant upfront money despite being $26 million under the projected salary cap, according to Spotrac.com.

After finishing last in the NFL in passing yards last fall, Baltimore’s priority is a top-end, free-agent receiver to upgrade the weapons at Jackson’s disposal. On defense, both Yannick Ngakoue and Matthew Judon set to become free agents. If the Ravens don’t retain one or both, shoring up the pass rush will consume additional money.

If Jackson and the Ravens can’t agree on an extension, he faces the prospect of at least one and potentially two years without the security of a long-term contract. In that case, he’ll go into every game wondering if he’s just one snap away from the sort of injury that has thrown Dak Prescott’s future into question. That will make for a strained relationship with the team.

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