Lamar Jackson Is No. 7 in SB Nation's AFC QB Rankings
It was just two years ago that Lamar Jackson joined Tom Brady as the only players in NFL history to win the league MVP award by a unanimous vote. Several months later, Jackson was voted the No. 1 player in the NFL Top 100 by his peers.
Now, according to pundits Brandon Lee Gowton and Rob Guerrera of “The SB Nation NFL Show,” Jackson isn't one of the six best quarterbacks in the AFC, let alone the entire league. Jackson came in at No. 7 in their AFC quarterback rankings.
Gowton and Guerrera cited Jackson's 1-3 record in the playoffs as the main reason he isn't ranked higher.
"At some point, your performance level [in the playoffs] has to pick up, and Lamar's definitely hasn't," Guerrera said.
Gowton said Jackson's subpar performance in the postseason is something the Ravens have to take into account in contract negotiations.
"Obviously, he's been incredible in the regular season, and I'm not trying to take that away from him," Gowton said. "But you can't just ignore the playoff thing. That's totally relevant. … Think about the contract Lamar Jackson is potentially going to get. The biggest contract ever. And given the Deshaun Watson extension, it can be fully guaranteed. So it's a huge commitment that you're making for multiple years to a guy with one playoff win in four tries and a passer rating of 68.3."
It's fair to be critical of Jackson's postseason record, but his 37-12 mark as a starter in the regular season shouldn't be so easily dismissed.
Of the six quarterbacks ranked ahead of him (Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Watson, Justin Herbert, Russell Wilson and Joe Burrow), only Mahomes has a higher winning percentage (.794) than Jackson (.755). Mahomes also is the only one with an MVP award.
In head-to-head matchups, Jackson is 1-3 against Mahomes, but 6-2 (including the playoffs) against the other five quarterbacks. In Jackson's games against Watson and Herbert, the Ravens went 3-0 and outscored their opponents, 108-29.
As for the playoffs, Watson also has only one win, and Herbert has yet to play in the postseason.
Moreover, Jackson took the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons and had them in position again last year before he missed the final four games (all losses) due to an ankle injury.
NFL Network's Maurice Jones-Drew showed Jackson more respect. He put him No. 4 on his ranking of AFC quarterbacks.
Ravens' Deal With Morgan Moses Ranked As One of the Best Free-Agent Signings
With an abundance of big-name players changing teams via free agency or trade, the Ravens' signing of veteran offensive tackle Morgan Moses went largely under the radar. However, multiple pundits are saying it's one of the best signings of the offseason.
Pro Football Focus ranked Moses' three-year deal with Ravens that's reportedly worth $15 million at No. 3 on its list of most underrated free-agent signings.
"He won't be an All-Pro anytime soon, but Moses has never had a bad pass-blocking season in the NFL, rating above 60 every year of his career in that area," PFF said.
PFF's Brad Spielberger listed Moses' deal as one of the five best free-agent value signings.
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert gave the Moses signing an "A" grade.
"This deal is one that makes you wonder what everyone else is missing," Seifert wrote. "Moses is a durable, reliable, veteran lineman who can step in and start 17 games without a second thought. We can argue about where Moses ranks in the pantheon of current NFL tackles, but he is surely in the top half and should have been the target of a bidding war among a half-dozen teams that need a starter at right tackle. For some context, Moses ranked No. 16 among all NFL tackles last season in ESPN's pass block win rate metric (90.6%).
"But the Ravens got him with a very reasonable offer more than 24 hours after the negotiating window opened. The move eliminated one of their biggest liabilities last season — four players had at least 60 snaps at the position for them last season — without fundamentally altering their salary-cap flexibility. The Ravens are really good at this."
Ravens Named Most Improved Team This Offseason
While opinions on the Ravens' offseason moves are mixed, Seifert said Baltimore has improved more than any other team at this point.
"I thought about the Browns but wondered how much quarterback Deshaun Watson will impact them considering he could serve a suspension," Seifert wrote. "The Broncos made the Wilson deal but play in the toughest division in football. The Ravens, meanwhile, have addressed big needs with good players — safety Marcus Williams and right tackle Morgan Moses, among others — and should be right back in the AFC North mix this season."
Other ESPN pundits picked the Broncos, Browns, Chargers, Bengals, Jaguars, Raiders and Bills.
Bleacher Report’s David Kenyon named the Ravens as one of the biggest offseason winners.
"Although it wasn't a busy opening week for the Baltimore Ravens, they certainly had a productive one," Kenyon wrote. "The key addition is safety Marcus Williams, who spent the last five seasons with the New Orleans Saints. He collected 320 tackles and 15 interceptions during that time, parlaying that strong performance into a five-year, $70 million deal with the Ravens."
Kenyton noted that the Ravens would have been even bigger winners had outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith not backed out of a verbal agreement with the team.
PFF’s Sam Monson and Spielberger were less impressed with the Ravens' offseason. They gave Baltimore an "Average" grade, thanks in large part because the Smith deal fell through.
"Had a reported four-year, $35 million verbal agreement with edge defender Za'Darius Smith not fallen through, Baltimore would have earned an above-average grade here," Monson and Spielberger wrote.
Meanwhile, the Ravens dropped three spots to No. 15 in NFL.com’s power rankings following the first wave of free agency.
Daniel Jeremiah Mocks Edge Rusher to Ravens
With the Ravens missing out on Smith and the list of quality edge rushers shrinking, NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah has Baltimore selecting Purdue edge rusher George Karlaftis with the 14th-overall pick in his latest mock draft.
"Baltimore's signing of Morgan Moses eliminates the dire need at offensive tackle. Karlaftis plays with the passion and effort the Ravens covet," Jeremiah wrote.
Karlaftis had just 4.5 sacks for Purdue last season, but he was often double- and triple-teamed.
"I had two or three blockers on me at all times, which freed up our other guys," Karlaftis said. "I think that's more significant. I think to a certain extent sacks are overrated. I know people like sacks and all that. I think the way you affect the quarterback, pressure the quarterback and affect the game is more significant."
Jeremiah has edge rushers being selected with the first three picks of the draft and four of the first seven.
Should Ravens Target Center JC Tretter?
There is a growing opinion that the Ravens should sign free-agent center JC Tretter now that Bradley Bozeman has departed for the Carolina Panthers.
Tretter was released by Cleveland in a cap-saving move. Over the past five seasons, Tretter started every game but one (he was on the Reserve/COVID-19 list in Week 16 last year).
"He also played 100 percent of the snaps when active with the Browns," Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox wrote. "The 31-year-old isn't a player Baltimore can build around for the next decade, but he's a plug-and-play guy who can lock down center for the next three-to-five years with no concerns."
Ebony Bird’s Justin Fried said Tretter would be a home run signing for the Ravens.
"This would be your Kevin Zeitler signing of the offseason," Fried wrote. "And if Tretter were to work out similarly to how Zeitler worked out last year, the Ravens would be celebrating. … By all accounts, he's one of the best centers in the NFL and someone with plenty of experience playing in the AFC North."
Baltimore Beatdown’s Frank Platko wrote: "if they want to avoid any potential drop-off in play at the position, even if marginal, signing Tretter would be a good move. In over 1,000 offensive snaps in 2021, Tretter was tagged with just five penalties and one allowed sack, earning him an impressive PFF grade of 78.7."
If the Ravens don't sign a center in free agency, they could move Patrick Mekari back to center, where he started previously in parts of 2019 and 2020. Trystan Colon is another possibility, and the Ravens also could look to the draft.