Lamar Jackson turned down $133 million from the Ravens family. His decision is logical | Baltimore Ravens

At what point on Sunday do you think Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti cast his eyes to the sky, Job Bluth StyleAdmitting that he made a huge mistake?

Was it when Lamar Jackson hit Rushwood Bateman in the 55-yard pitch? Or when the quarterback drops 25 yards from a touchdown throw to Devin Duffany, right in the bucket, the kind of throw that only a top-tier pocket passer in the league can do? Or when Jackson wrapped up his opening-week treble against the New York Jets with an unseen pass?

Lamar Jackson no look pass TD

Hope it gets recognition like Patrick Mahomes or Matthew Stafford

— The Ravens Realm (@RealmRavens) September 11, 2022


While Ravens fans were celebrating pasting the unlucky Jets, Bisciotti may have been fantasizing about the dollars draining from his account.

The Ravens and star quarterback have been stuck in a contractual stalemate for the better part of two seasons. Jackson, the former best player in the league, is seeking a fully guaranteed contract that goes well with this genre Deshaun Watson received from Cleveland And the Pick up Kirk Cousins ​​in Minnesota.

Instead, the Ravens offered Jackson a $250 million extension, with a $133 million guarantee upon signing, that would have lasted until the 2027 season, According to ESPN. When asked if he turned down a quarter of a billion dollars from the crows after the Jets win, Jackson replied, “Fully guaranteed?”

This is the sticking point for Jackson, who does not have an agent and represents himself in the negotiations. For the quarterback, the deal is simple: Watson slapped a $230 million, five-year, fully guaranteed contract on the table and asked the Ravens to add a dollar. But Baltimore has bucked the idea of ​​a fully secured deal.

Not forcing Jackson to a long-term contract before the season will prove to be a costly mistake. Jackson is a once-in-a-lifetime, two-way threat. It is, more than any other player in the league, an individual offense. He has no luggage outside the stadium. At the age of 25, he is entering his career prime. From Jackson’s perspective, the Ravens’ chance of making five years of playing an elite quarterback was supposed to be seen as a blessing rather than a burden.

Baltimore’s counterargument is simple: This is a five-year decision, not five months. The team attempts to fortify themselves against any of Jackson’s unique skills waning as he approaches the age of thirty. However, what Jackson can do over the next five months will not improve Baltimore’s negotiating position. There are not many paths where Not Jackson’s signature on a multi-year extension works out well. The price will only go up, unless: Jackson gets hurt; Jackson stinks.

Neither route will help the crows in 2022 or later. If Jackson maintains his standards of MVP caliber, he will head into the next season with extraordinary leverage: by then he will have turned 26, at the height of his abilities, with the ability to claim trade or extract more value from the crows – and to reaffirm his claim that that value It must be fully secured upon signing.

Crows can withstand. It is one of the most analytically minded organizations in the world NFL. General Manager Eric DeCosta made an offer to drop piles of cash for undervalued positions such as vaults, tight ends and positions. He has refrained from paying high money for the top positions: the left-footed, wide receiver, and most notably the midfielder.

DeCosta knows that even in an era where some quarterbacks are playing in their 40s, Jackson’s game is unlikely to progress either. Much of his value comes from his legs, both as a runner and thanks to the advantage he gains as a walker from the fact that he mayo Take off. Opposing defenses play race first, opening easy buckets for Jackson to fire low-ratio throws at an unusually high clip.

Within one week, Jackson again leads the league in average intended air yards – finishing with an average goal depth of 13.9 yards, the highest number in the NFL. Crows are not looking to craft explosive plays, setting traps before attempting to launch a reward play; They are looking forward to it Just Hit explosive plays. Anything else is a missed or missed opportunity. Jackson threw nine passes from 15 yards or more against the jets. Three landings have been completed.

It’s fair to wonder what Jackson’s game will look like once his sport starts to erode. He picked goofs out of his pocket in college, and continues to smash defenses with his arm in the pros. But much of that work is still built on the idea – fear – that he can get away with it. Remove that from the equation and the defense can adjust its strategy, making it less likely to throw the field. In this world, Jackson had to be a patient thrower, ready to lead 14 game after court, with the weird blast as he stretched his legs for pitch throw.

Baltimore are known to be concerned. Every NFL player ages and ages fast – Unless they refuse strawberries. The organization recognizes that while there is a path for Jackson to develop his style as he matures, this is a possibility, not a possibility. For every Ben Roethlisberger, a player who has adapted his game with his age, there is Cam Newton, a player who actually retired from the league before he turned 33 as his athletic edge faded.

Jackson is encouraged by the well-known. He understands that if it weren’t for the Ravens, some team would be happy to pay the Watsonian a kicker for them in 2023. There has never been a midfielder of Jackson’s skill, no baggage, available on the open market. If dolphin owner Stephen Ross is ready for it Breaking the rules of the league To try to woo 45-year-old Tom Brady, what would he do to Jackson? The NFL is a league largely run by impatient seniors. If it wasn’t for Bisciotti, owners in New Orleans, Carolina, Philadelphia, New York and elsewhere would line up to hand Jackson the contract he requested.

crows Franchise tag can Jackson for next season and the year after (non-exclusive label Probably in the $32 million range, exclusive mark About $46 million for the year 2023), but Jackson wants a long-term deal – he can follow in the footsteps of Russell Wilson and Watson and push his way out in order to strike a deal.

The Ravens expected Jackson to walk away, take the $100 million on offer, and go about his day. Keeler Murray eventually agreed to a lower deal from Watson. So did Wilson. But Jackson is betting on himself. Stay healthy, and it will be the biggest winner. He gets hurt, and he could lose $100 million. Either way, it’s the Ravens who have injected a sense of ambiguity into their long-term thinking: Either they’ll have lost the quarterback’s franchise due to injury, or they’ll put off the deal, kicking the can down the road closer to the point where his game can dip.

Jackson will take to the field against Miami on Sunday, playing not just to win, but the contract he believes he deserves. The only question remains: which of the two concessions is most likely to hand it over to him in March?