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Late for Work 3/7: What NFL Agents Say About How Lamar Jackson Has Handled Contract Negotiations

QB Lamar Jackson against the Pittburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday, December 2, 2021 in Pittsburgh, PA

NFL Agents Praise How Jackson's Handled Contract Negotiations

Lamar Jackson doesn't have an NFL agent negotiating his pending mega-deal with the Ravens. It's been a heavy talking point over the past year.

However, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora and a few NFL agents are praising the quarterback over how he's conducted the negotiations thus far.

"If you are under the impression that Jackson is some naïve, out-of-his-depth, disengaged vessel in terms of his contract, you would be incorrect," La Canfora wrote. "Numerous sources close to this situation indicated he is quite well-versed in the NFL quarterback financial landscape, and league sources also indicated the Ravens have never presented an offer in the stratosphere of the $40M-$45M per year that other top young QBs have secured, instead focusing on long-term deals (five years or more) closer to $35M a year."

As it stands, there are three quarterbacks at or over $40 million per year: Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes ($45 million), Buffalo Bills' Josh Allen ($43 million) and Dallas Cowboys' Dak Prescott ($40 million).

One agent La Canfora spoke with expects Jackson's deal will be in such a range.

"'That's where I think this is going,' the agent said. 'I hear he is looking at a three-year deal, or something short term. It's always about the money, and they aren't close on that, but it's also about the term. He already played for almost nothing ($1.7M base salary) last year. He's getting $23M (fully guaranteed) this year. You think he's scared of a franchise tag? I keep hearing he's looking at [Kirk] Cousins.'"

A different agent La Canfora spoke with said Jackson has played his hand strongly.

"'I hate to say it, and I wish he had an agent, but I think he has played this really well," said one top NFL agent. "When you do this for a living you have to follow certain protocols and diplomacy and, I hate to say it, but it's true, you have to worry about future business with the team. For this kid and his mom, this is a one-off. A one-time thing. And the team has to be mindful of those dynamics.'"

La Canfora also spoke with an NFL contract negotiator for a quarterback-needy team, who spoke rather candidly about how Jackson's camp is in a position of power.

"'They can't carry him at $23M (against the cap on his fifth-year option) and do anything meaningful in free agency,'" they said. "'And there aren't any quarterbacks out there. Trust me. We're looking at all of them.'"

Let's keep in mind that Jackson and his team have been extremely tight-lipped about negotiations, so it's certainly fair to question how much the agents La Canfora spoke with actually know about the situation. Jackson's camp has been quiet regarding the situation and General Manager Eric DeCosta shared that he is working "at Lamar’s urgency," without any signs of negativity.

Jackson did make his goals clear during his appearance on “The Shop” with LeBron James, saying "Being a champion and being a billionaire. That's just what I've been thinking about since I was a little kid."

Ravens Boast Best Odds to go from Worst to First in Their Division

It took an abundance of injuries and a back-half gauntlet of a schedule to knock the Ravens to fourth place in the AFC North.

Now, sportsbooks are expecting the Ravens to turn it around with DraftKings, Caesars and BetMGM all giving the Ravens the best odds (+175) to return to the top of their division, and Travis Pulver of gamingtoday calling them the "obvious choice" among the last-place teams in their divisions.

"Injuries decimated the backfield during the preseason last year and caused the Ravens to put too much on QB Lamar Jackson's shoulders," Pulver wrote. "But the defense was a more significant issue. While it was the No. 1 unit against the run, the Ravens D was also dead last against the pass."

Prior to the Ravens' season being derailed by injuries, they were at one point the No. 1 team in the AFC. That roster, with most of its stars remaining under contract, makes it easy for sportsbooks to give them the best odds. Pulver also believes it's due to the nature of the AFC North.

"The Ravens could get a helping hand from the Bengals; it is not unusual for the team that lost the Super Bowl to struggle the following season," Pulver wrote. "With the Steelers rebuilding and the Browns struggling to figure out who they are, the opportunity is undoubtedly there for the Ravens."

Anthony Averett Missing from Top Free Agents Lists

This past week, multiple top free agent lists were published that featured multiple Ravens. There were no real surprises on who made PFF’s list, from defensive end Calais Campbell (No. 28) to center Bradley Bozeman (No. 94) and more, but one name was notably absent from both PFF's and’s lists: cornerback Anthony Averett.

Averett started 14 games in 2022 after replacing the injured Marcus Peters. He's been widely labeled a starting cornerback who was stuck behind Peters and Marlon Humphrey on the depth chart. But after an up-and-down season, Averett didn't crack either list.

It's fair to wonder if the lack of recognition could help the Ravens coax Averett into staying, but Pressbox’s Bo Smolka isn't expecting it, giving Averett only a 15% chance of returning.

"With Humphrey and Peters expected to return to their starting roles this fall, Averett knows that his best chance to be a starter is elsewhere, and he is likely to have suitors," Smolka wrote. "Cornerbacks get paid in free agency."

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec also believes Averett will be moving on.

"Averett was one of the most targeted cornerbacks in football last season. He had a few rough games, but he mostly held up and made himself some money in the process," Zrebiec wrote. "The Ravens would like to re-sign the 2018 fourth-round pick, but they already have a lot of money invested in their cornerback group and they'll probably be priced out."

Quick Hits

  • ESPN’s Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler link former Ravens center Ryan Jensen to the Ravens, and fullback Patrick Ricard is being considered a hybrid tight end in free agency

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