Ian Rapoport: Ravens 'Have Tried Variety of Ways' to Reach an Agreement With Lamar Jackson
By the time the NFL franchise tag deadline passed Tuesday afternoon, Lamar Jackson had been placed on the non-exclusive tag by the Ravens, and Daniel Jones and the New York Giants had reached an agreement on a contract extension.
Jackson is set to earn $32.4 million next season, while Jones' average annual salary will be $40 million over the next four years.
The contrasting outcomes prompted the following knee-jerk reaction on social media: How is it possible that a 26-year-old former NFL MVP didn't receive a long-term, lucrative contract but a quarterback with a significantly less impressive resume did?
It's obviously an extreme oversimplification and unfair comparison. NFL insiders have been quick to point out that the lack of an extension for Jackson before the deadline wasn't for a lack of trying by the Ravens.
"A lot of public conversation about how fair this is to Lamar Jackson, how Daniel Jones can be making more than the [$32 million] that Jackson is making, and what are the Ravens doing by not locking up their star player. To which I would say, they're trying. They are trying," NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said. "They have tried a variety of different ways. They've tried deals heavy in guarantees. They have tried all sorts of ways to get Lamar Jackson to respond and to take some sort of deal that would make him one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL.
"Believe me, if Lamar Jackson would take the deal that the Ravens have offered, he would make far more than $40 million, but that's not where they are."
ESPN's Adam Schefter said: "The Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson have spent the better part of two years trying to get a contract done, and by my sense don't appear to be close to getting an agreement. So the Baltimore Ravens basically said go out and see what the market will pay you; let the market mediate our little disagreement, because we'd like you back and we've made you multiple offers, but you're not taking any of the offers and you're proposing a different kind of deal — he's wanted a fully guaranteed contract all along."
Pundit Says Jackson Is Worth More to Ravens Than Any Other Team
Shortly after it was announced that the Ravens had placed the non-exclusive tag on Jackson — which means he can negotiate with other teams and if he were to sign an offer sheet, Baltimore would have an opportunity to match it — reports surfaced that multiple teams would not be pursuing him.
That raised the question of why a player of Jackson's stature isn't being highly coveted. The answer could be that teams are convinced the Ravens will match any offer, so pursuing him would be pointless.
"I think part of it is teams feel that they would just be drawing the offer sheet for the Baltimore Ravens," Schefter said. "There have been many free agents in the past that have been given a tag like this, where other teams have balked at signing that player to an offer sheet because they don't want to do the work for another team. This is not a Lamar Jackson, new phenomenon."
Sports Illustrated’s Mike Rosenberg said another reason why teams apparently aren't lining up to negotiate with Jackson is because he is worth more to the Ravens than to any other team, especially right now.
"The question of whether you would want Lamar Jackson on your team and whether you would try to sign him now are entirely different questions. Free agency is not just about talent acquisition. It is about choices," Rosenberg wrote. "Of course a number of teams should want Jackson. He is better than what they have. But should they try to pay the price it would take to get him right now?
"The Ravens are one of the smartest teams in the league. They are a perennial playoff team. They have built their entire offense around Jackson to a degree that no other team can replicate immediately, because those teams have not had Jackson on their roster for the past four years. Whatever Lamar Jackson is worth, he is worth more to the Ravens than to anybody else. Of course teams are wary of outbidding Baltimore. I would be, too."
Ravens Lauded for Hiring Chuck Smith As Outside Linebackers Coach
In non-Lamar news, the Ravens are being lauded for their hiring of the highly respected Chuck Smith as outside linebackers coach.
Smith, a former NFL defensive end (1992-2000) is an outside-the-box hire as a coach who comes from a non-traditional coaching background. He has spent more than 20 years developing and operating a pass rush training program used by many professional and collegiate players and coaches.