What Does Dak Prescott's Deal Mean for Lamar Jackson?
The price tag for Lamar Jackson may have become a little clearer after Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys agreed to a contract extension Monday.
According to reports, it's a four-year deal for $160 million, including a record $126 million guaranteed. That averages out to $40 million per year, second only to Patrick Mahomes ($45 million) and just ahead of Deshaun Watson ($39 million).
Jackson is among those in the quarterback class of 2018 who are in line for a contract extension.
"The Browns' Baker Mayfield, Bills' Josh Allen (he finished second in MVP voting in 2020) and Ravens' Lamar Jackson, who won MVP honors in 2019, are eligible for megadeals of their own three years after each was a first-round selection," USA Today's Nate Davis wrote. "Prescott's raising of the bar should only help the rest of them realize their own windfalls."
General Manager Eric DeCosta has said that a contract extension for Jackson this offseason is a possibility. The Ravens have a number of players set to become unrestricted free agents and the timing of a new deal for Jackson will impact how much financial flexibility they have. The way the contract is structured, and how much room it would leave to make additions this offseason, would also be a factor.
Negotiations with Jackson have not started, according to reports. DeCosta will speak with reporters today at 10 a.m. and will surely be asked about the status of a possible extension for Jackson.
Last week, "Good Morning Football's Nate Burleson said Jackson deserves to be the second-highest paid quarterback in the league and the Ravens should want to get a deal done this offseason.
"This dude was a unanimous MVP. He's a fantastic football player," Burleson said. "Even last year with everything the Baltimore Ravens had to deal with, COVID and guys being out, he started to pick it up at the end of the season and he reminded us just how good he is."
Peter Schrager of "Good Morning Football" said it would benefit the Ravens to extend Jackson before the Bills reach a deal with Allen.
"Josh Allen is going to get a monster contract. I would beat the Bills to the punch so you're not doing tit for tat and saying, 'Well, he needs more than Josh Allen,'" Schrager said.
What Are the Most Important Moves the Ravens Could Make This Offseason?
As the Ravens go about improving the team over the coming months, pundits are determining their priority list.
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec ranked wide receiver as the team's top need, followed by interior offensive line and then pass rusher.
"For the umpteenth straight offseason, the Ravens need receiver help," Zrebiec wrote. "Last year's group was the least productive in the league statistically, and the Ravens seemingly recognize that it's going to be tough to take the next step in the playoffs without an improved passing game. They are well-stocked with young pass catchers, but beyond Marquise Brown, none of them have proven to be reliable downfield threats and game-breaking talents.
"However, there is plenty of skepticism about whether the team that throws the ball less than anyone in the league will be willing to invest significant money in a free-agent receiver and whether a top receiver would even consider signing with the NFL's most run-heavy offense."
The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker came up with a list of the most important moves the Ravens could make this offseason. Here are excerpts from his top three:
Sign an established guard or center.
"Yes, they patched together a string of dominant rushing performances against overmatched opponents late in the season. Yes, their deep pool of young blockers — from Ben Powers to Patrick Mekari to Tyre Phillips — facilitated the rally that got them to the playoffs. But the loss to the Bills was a nightmare for most of the offensive line, which could not give Jackson the time he needed to make correct reads and could not get him the ball cleanly.
"Center Corey Linsley would be the deluxe-tier solution. Pro Football Focus graded him the top player at his position last season, and he was never less than good in seven seasons as a starter for the Green Bay Packers. He would immediately wipe away the snapping and pass blocking troubles that hampered Mekari and Matt Skura, and he would be more affordable than a top-tier wide receiver or pass rusher."
Sign a second-tier wide receiver and draft an outside pass catcher with significant upside.
"If your heart is set on Allen Robinson or Kenny Golladay, prepare for disappointment. There's a good chance these guys will not hit the market, and even if they do, Ravens General manager Eric DeCosta has said nothing to suggest he'd shop in that neighborhood. Most fans seem to understand this, so there's a lot of talk about Will Fuller V and Corey Davis, both of whom produced as deep threats in 2020. The appeals are obvious. Fuller has averaged 15 yards per catch over five seasons. Davis had a breakout year for the run-first Tennessee Titans.
"On the other hand, neither is a No. 1 receiver; Fuller has not been durable enough, and the Titans thought little enough of Davis that they did not pick up his fifth-year option. So the Ravens could be chasing fool's gold if they spent $15 million per year on one of these guys instead of signing a top offensive lineman. They would be better off spending modestly on a consistent veteran such as Marvin Jones Jr. and trying to hit pay dirt with a deep wide receiver class that features big, outside targets such as Terrace Marshall Jr. of LSU and Rashod Bateman of Minnesota."
Re-sign Tyus Bowser and draft an outside linebacker.
"[Defensive Coordinator Wink] Martindale would love to have an edge superstar who could create consistent pressure without the aid of blitzes, but he's proved that he can design a championship-level defense without one. Instead, he's relied on deception created by players such as [Matthew] Judon and Bowser, who drop into coverage as easily as they fire off the line.
This is why Bowser feels like a linchpin of the Ravens' offseason. He won't draw superstar money on the open market, but we know he can deliver much of what Judon did. If the Ravens bring him back along with veteran Pernell McPhee, who played well in 2020 and has said he'd like to keep going, they'd at least keep their defense on track. That said, they need to draft an edge rusher in the first three rounds."
Are the Ravens' Issues on the Offensive Line Overhyped?
While upgrading the offensive line is near the top of every pundits' list of offseason priorities for the Ravens, Ravens Wire's Matthew Stevens contends that the situation is not as dire as some believe.
"For all the harping on about the importance of the offensive line, I think Baltimore's issues are a little overanalyzed and certainly overhyped," Stevens wrote. "First and foremost, throw out last year. Whenever you lose an All-Pro left tackle (Ronnie Stanley) to injury and a Hall of Fame-caliber right guard (Marshal Yanda) to retirement, there are going to be issues. So, if we aren't basing our assessment on last season, we need to look a little closer at what Baltimore has in order to figure out what they need."
If All-Pro right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. isn't traded, the Ravens will have three starters on the line locked in: Stanley, Brown and left guard Bradley Bozeman. Regarding right guard, Stevens said the Ravens have in-house options, with Powers at the top of his list.
"Ben Powers — the guy I predicted would win the job from the outset — performed quite admirably there when given a chance," Stevens wrote. " … When combined with the depth Baltimore has at guard, the Ravens should feel good about heading into training camp with the starting job open for competition."
Stevens believes center is the biggest issue on the line, but it's a position the Ravens can address without having to spend a ton of money.
"I believe the majority of the issues that have been attributed to the interior offensive line as a whole are really a byproduct of the struggles at center," Stevens wrote. "Beyond the poor snaps, things like missed blocks and slow pulls put far more pressure on both the left and right guards to overcompensate. That leads to missed blocks of their own, getting shoved into the backfield, being late to their blocking assignment, and penalties as they either try to fire off too quickly or need to hold.
"If my assessment is correct, signing a top center like Linsley in free agency would immediately patch up the Ravens' biggest weakness on the offensive line while making both left and right guard look better as well. And as an added bonus, it won't cost a fortune to do, even if they overpay and don't backload the deal, which isn't something the Ravens have done often."
Will Calais Campbell Make a Bigger Impact In 2021?
Six-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Calais Campbell posted a career-low (since his rookie year) four sacks last year, but he still had a solid year despite being hampered by a calf injury and COVID-19.
Ebony Bird's Chris Schisler believes a healthy Campbell — who missed four games last season (the Ravens went 1-3 in his absence) — will make a bigger impact in 2021. Before last season, Campbell, 34, has not missed a game since 2014.
"Just look at how the 2020 season started," Schisler wrote. "He tipped two passes from Baker Mayfield on the first defensive stand of the season. He had three tipped passes in the season opener. He had a sack and five total tackles in the second game of the season. He dominated the Philadelphia Eagles with three sacks in the contest.
"There's never been a reason to think that Campbell is showing signs of diminishing returns. Honestly, this was a season that showed us that he's not a machine. His statistical consistency over the years has been amazing. He was due one down year. It just means he's got a bigger one on the way."