Lamar Jackson Is Facing a Big-Time Challenge That Could Cost Him Millions of Dollars or Ruin His Relationship With the Ravens

While he might not be everyone’s cup of tea, Lamar Jackson has already proven himself to be a uniquely talented quarterback. Thanks to his dual-threat running and throwing abilities, the Baltimore Ravens quarterback is on the verge of becoming a very rich man. When it comes to negotiating that contract extension, though, there is a catch.

Unlike most players around the league, Jackson doesn’t use an agent. Instead, he and his mother will be the ones negotiating the deal. As you might assume, that ratchets up the pressure, as a single misstep could cost the quarterback millions of dollars or ruin his relationship with the Ravens’ brass.

Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are ready to talk turkey and discuss a contract extension

Ever since he burst onto the NFL scene during the 2018 season, Jackson has been one of the best bargains in the entire league. Those days, however, are coming to an end.

On April 30, 2021, the Ravens announced that they would be exercising the fifth-year option on Jackson’s rookie contract. While that carries a nice pay raise and will keep the quarterback in town through the 2022 campaign, that’s not enough long-term security. As you might expect, Baltimore is prepared to do whatever it takes to keep their star player locked up for years to come.

As for Jackson’s side of things, the quarterback has told reporters that he would love to stay in Baltimore forever but isn’t too concerned about the business side of things. Beyond that PR-friendly response, though, it seems like the two parties are getting down to business. According to Mike Garafolo (H/T NFL.com), the Ravens view his extension as their top priority and hope to have everything squared away before training camp.

No matter when the deal gets done, though, the numbers involved will presumably be rather large. Even if you want to poke some holes in Jackson’s game, he’s worthy of being paid in the upper echelon of quarterbacks and shouldn’t have a problem commanding around $40 million per year.

The Ravens quarterback finds himself facing a tricky negotiation

Quarterback Lamar Jackson throws a pass during Baltimore Ravens OTAs.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback throws a pass during the team’s offseason workouts. | Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

It goes without saying that negotiating a multimillion-dollar deal comes with plenty of challenges. Lamar Jackson, however, will be facing some extra issues when he sits down to talk dollars and cents.

Rather than getting an agent involved on his behalf, Jackson and his mother will be hammering out the deal themselves. While that does give them more direct control over the situation and cuts out the middle man, it also exposes the quarterback to some sticky situations.

First, the negotiating process isn’t friendly, and there’s always the possibility that one party, whether it’s Jackson or the Ravens, will feel offended, under-appreciated, or otherwise disrespected. While everyone understands that pro football is a business, it’s not ideal to potentially have a situation where the star quarterback feels like the general manager doubts him.

“If you’re heading into a contract negotiation with your starting quarterback, … agents, a lot of times, sort of act as the buffer,” Ian Rapoport explained on The Pat McAfee Show. “So, if you’re really pissed off about some counteroffer, you scream at the agent, talk about why you’re gonna put him out of business or whatever you want to say, and the player has generally no idea, and the relationship is good. It is a little different with Lamar Jackson because it is his mom sort of acting like his business partner, business manager.”

Beyond those more personal dynamics, Jackson is also facing the pressure of handing a big-money business decision. Without an agent, he’s the one who can potentially cost himself millions of dollars with a single misstep.

“It is a lot of pressure. It is unbelievably difficult,” Rapoport continued. “The stakes are incredibly high because, if you lock yourself into a bad deal, you could be costing yourself tens of millions of dollars.”

At the end of the day, Lamar Jackson does have at least one key advantage

While Lamar Jackson and his mother will find themselves facing a challenging negotiation this summer, it is worth remembering that they did do this before. The pair took care of the quarterback’s rookie contract and, even though those deals are fairly boilerplate, got everything squared away. Beyond that experience, there is one key advantage in their corner.

Although it may rub some old-school purists the wrong way, the modern NFL is a quarterback-centric league. Jackson, for all of his flaws, is one of the top signal-callers around. While that doesn’t quite give him a blank check to throw down on the negotiating table, it does provide some security. Number 8 can reasonably expect the Ravens to pay him somewhere in the neighborhood of Patrick Mahomes and Dak Prescott and, if they don’t, some other team in the league would gladly do so. Even if he has no desire to leave town, that leverage can only help when things get down to brass tacks.

It’s also worth noting that negotiating your own extension can work out. DeAndre Hopkins is also self-represented and, in addition to scoring a record-setting contract in 2020, he saved himself plenty of money on agent’s fees.

At the end of the day, being an NFL quarterback, especially one that likes to run, means that Jackson is no stranger to high-risk, high-reward situations. Negotiating a new contract alongside his mother, to some extent, will simply be par for the course.

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