Late for Work 7/8: Deshaun Watson's Deal May Be Best Gauge for Lamar Jackson's Extension

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QB Lamar Jackson

Deshaun Watson's Deal May Be Best Gauge for Lamar Jackson's Extension

Lamar Jackson's next contract is going to make him one of the highest-paid players in the NFL, but what might the deal look like as far as amount, length and structure?

The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer examined what the recent extensions for quarterbacks such as Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes, Dallas' Dak Prescott and Houston's Deshaun Watson could tell us about what Jackson's extension could look like.

Watson's deal could be the best indicator for Jackson's contract projections, wrote Shaffer, who noted that "Watson doesn't have Jackson's record or durability."

"In April, the Ravens exercised the fifth-year option on Jackson's rookie contract, just as Houston did with Watson's after a stellar 2019," Shaffer wrote. "Now the Ravens could finalize an extension ahead of Jackson's fourth season, just as Watson signed a four-year, $156 million extension a week before the Texans' opener. Jackson turns 25 in January; his old college rival turned 25 in September.

"Watson's 2020 deal guaranteed $73.7 million at signing — a $27 million bonus, along with the first three years of salary — but kept the cap hit relatively low over the first two years. From 2020 to 2022, Watson's base salary will have jumped from $1.2 million to $10.5 million to $35 million. His 2023 roster bonus and salary become fully guaranteed in March of that year, though sexual assault allegations have clouded Watson's future in Houston."

The deal for Prescott — who signed a four-year, $160 million extension with $126 million guaranteed and an NFL-record $66 million signing bonus — also could be a model for Jackson's contract. It's structured in such a way that bodes well for Dallas' salary cap.

"The contract's voidable years in 2025 and 2026 will help keep the Cowboys out of salary cap purgatory — and could offer a template for Jackson's extension," Shaffer wrote. "While Prescott's deal expires after the 2024 season, Dallas has already pushed some of his cap hit into 2025. Next year, the Cowboys could restructure his contract, converting part of his 2022 base salary into even more bonus money that would prorate through the 2026 season."

The outlier among the recent quarterback extensions is Mahomes' deal, which is the biggest in sports history.

"Mahomes' deal is unique in many ways," Shaffer wrote. "Most notable is its sheer enormity. With the 10-year, $450 million extension, Mahomes was fully guaranteed $63 million at signing and had $103.5 million guaranteed in March. If he's still on the Kansas City Chiefs' roster next March — and little but an alien abduction will prevent that — he'll have $141.4 million guaranteed."

As highlighted in Monday's Late for Work, negotiations with Jackson are reportedly going smoothly, but timing could be a factor. Specifically, if Josh Allen signs a new deal with Buffalo first, it could affect the market for Jackson.

Marlon Humphrey Ranked No. 2 Cornerback in the NFL

Another day, another pundit praising All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey.

In this week alone, we noted in Late for Work that Humphrey was named one of five players you'd want to start a franchise with and he and Marcus Peters were named one of the league's best "Batman and Robin duos."

The latest, well-deserved superlative for Humphrey: He has been ranked the second-best cornerback in the league in an ESPN survey of 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players.

Humphrey, who turns 25 today, trailed only two-time All-Pro Jalen Ramsey of the Los Angeles Rams in the rankings

"He's the one guy, if you think back to Peanut Tillman, he's asserting himself like that," an AFC coordinator said. "Maybe not a twitchy guy but man coverage skills, toughness, knack to getting the ball, adequate speed and good size."

The comparison to Tillman is apt because of Humphrey's proficiency at punching the ball out of defender's hands. Humphrey forced a league-high eight fumbles last season. He also ranked fourth in the NFL with 6.4 yards allowed per target as the nearest defender, per Next Gen Stats.

"He's just tough — ball hawk, long, rangy, plays different now than in college," an NFC coach said. "Before you play him, you're showing his turnover reel to your team — 'Let's not tempt him.'"

J.K. Dobbins Tabbed As Ravens' Top Candidate to Make First Pro Bowl in 2021

J.K. Dobbins was one of the most productive running backs in the league over the final five games of last season, and there's every reason to believe he'll hit the ground running in Year 2.

NFL.com's Marc Sessler said Dobbins is the Ravens player most likely to earn a first Pro Bowl nod in 2021.

"It's all about how Dobbins closed his rookie adventure," Sessler wrote. "After receiving just 25 totes in September and October, the former Ohio State star put up 651 of his 805 yards down the stretch while finishing with the league's highest yards-per-carry mark (6.0) among qualified running backs.

"An ideal fit in Baltimore's RPO rushing express, Dobbins offers elite vision, powerful, knifing legs that can turn on the jets and college proof as a receiver. He'll grow in that pass-catching role come autumn and deserves mention as a dark-horse candidate to lead the NFL in touchdowns."

Over the final five games of 2020, Dobbins rushed for 425 yards and six touchdowns. That pace translates to 1,445 yards and 20 touchdowns in a 17-game season.

To Sessler's point, Dobbins is expected to be more of a factor in the passing game after catching 18 passes for 120 yards last year.

Russell Street Report's Tony Lombardi wrote: "Critics might point out that Dobbins has bad hands and his 16.7% drop rate in 2020 is proof. But judging from the way he practices, the skill set is there to be an accomplished pass-catcher out of the backfield. He has an awareness of the boundaries, is capable of toe-tapping and he's not a body-catcher. He is every bit as capable a receiver as Ray Rice."

Our Clifton Brown named Dobbins one of five Ravens who could be first-time Pro Bowl players this year.

"Dobbins is highly-motivated to prove he can be a star running back who helps the Ravens reach the Super Bowl," Brown wrote. "Talent, motivation and opportunity could equal Pro Bowl."

Ebony Bird's Justin Fried also believes Dobbins is a prime candidate to make his first Pro Bowl.

"The only thing working against him is a stacked collection of running backs currently inhabiting the AFC," Fried wrote. "The likes of Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb, and Josh Jacobs made the Pro Bowl roster in 2020. Will Dobbins be able to put up big enough numbers to usurp any of them? He'll certainly be given the opportunity to do so."

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