Lamar Jackson Contract Update: Should the Ravens Select a Quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft?

In the summer of 2021, Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens did not reach an agreement on a new contract ahead of training camp.

In the summer of 2022, Jackson might spend training camp throwing alongside his potential successor.

To be clear, there have been zero credible reports or rumors at this time regarding the Ravens selecting a quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft. However, there have also been no credible, positive updates about Jackson’s pursuit of a new contract.

Could the end result involve the Ravens adding a quarterback in next week’s draft? The idea makes far more sense than even Jackson’s most devoted supporters might want to admit.

The Ravens must strongly consider selecting Lamar Jackson’s potential successor in the 2022 NFL Draft

The trusty NFL Mock Draft Database has a section for each team titled “Draft Targets.” For example, potential players the Ravens might select with the 14th overall pick include Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum, LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., and Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd — assuming all are still available, of course.

There are no quarterbacks listed on the Ravens’ 2022 draft targets. We believe the team would be wise to take the opposite approach.

None of this is an indictment against Jackson, the person, or Jackson, the player. When he’s healthy, the Louisville product is among the game’s most electric players, and he’s emerged as a viable cornerstone in the NFL’s future. Jackson has proven he can beat even the league’s best teams with his shoulder, legs, and stiff-arm abilities.

Nothing is forever, though. Especially not when Jackson doesn’t have a contract beyond this season.

Jackson chose not to have an agent represent him, and he also didn’t agree to a new deal ahead of the 2021 season. Even if he wouldn’t have earned anything close to Patrick Mahomes’ $503 million contract ($140 million guaranteed) or Josh Allen’s $258 million deal ($150 million guaranteed), the 2018 first-round pick still could have secured life-changing money and ensured he’d be paid even if he suffered a career-altering injury.

If you’re the Ravens, at what point do you start looking toward the future? If Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder or North Carolina’s Sam Howell is still available when the Ravens pick 45th overall, why shouldn’t the Ravens seriously consider drafting them? What about Nevada’s Carson Strong, who experts say has the best arm of any quarterback in this year’s draft class?

Now, some Ravens fans might be asking about Tyler Huntley, the 24-year-old who looked sharp at points last season. And, yes, the Utah product could realistically emerge as Jackson’s successor if the 2019 NFL MVP doesn’t re-sign with the Ravens, especially considering his familiarity with the organization. We’re not ruling him out here.

One could also argue the Ravens should wait until the 2023 draft to select a quarterback who could potentially compete with Huntley, and that isn’t a bad idea. But is it better to add a prospect like Howell or Ridder now and start grooming him a year in advance? Or would the smarter decision be to hold off and only pick a quarterback in 2023 if Jackson signs elsewhere?

Huntley is slated to hit restricted free agency next spring at 23 years old. Barring a trade in the coming months, there is no reason at this time to believe the Ravens would not bring him back for the 2023 season.

The truth is, we really know nothing right now. Jackson and the Ravens might be finalizing a contract as I write this story, for all I know. They might call a press conference as soon as I hit “publish,” and I will be left to look like a fool.

However, the fact that so much uncertainty remains about Jackson’s future in Baltimore is enough to make me feel slightly less foolish. Although the fourth-year quarterback has said the right things publicly, the lack of contract movement should speak for itself.

History often repeats, and the Ravens once traded up to select Joe Flacco’s successor in 2018. At the time, the organization felt Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, perfectly fit such a role.

Four years later, might Howell or Strong arrive in Baltimore with a similar objective? That we’re even asking the question might be enough of an answer.

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