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Late for Work: Surging Salary Cap Will Help Ravens Build Around Lamar Jackson's Huge Contract

QB Lamar Jackson
QB Lamar Jackson

Surging Salary Cap Will Help Ravens Build Around Lamar Jackson's Huge Contract

As the Ravens can attest, having a franchise quarterback on his rookie contract is the most valuable asset an NFL team can have in building its roster. Lamar Jackson's cap hit was never more than (just more than) $3 million in his first four seasons.

Those days ended when Jackson signed a five-year, $260 million contract extension last offseason that briefly made him the highest-paid player in the league and increased his cap hit in 2023 to $22.2 million. That number will continue to significantly increase in 2024 and each subsequent year.

However, The Baltimore Banner's Jonas Shaffer said the NFL's surging salary cap could help the Ravens build a winning roster around Jackson's huge contract.

"General Manager Eric DeCosta's big investment in Jackson has already paid off in the short term — Jackson's second NFL Most Valuable Player award is proof positive of that — and now might age gracefully in the long term as well," Shaffer wrote. "With the league's announcement Friday that the 2024 salary cap would rise to $255.4 million per team, a record jump of $30.6 million, the Ravens will have their most important contract locked in for a period of potentially skyrocketing spending."

Shaffer correctly pointed out that the paradox of roster construction is that it's hard to win the Super Bowl without a top-10 quarterback, but top-10-quarterback contracts make it hard to win the Super Bowl.

"Only one QB this century has won an NFL title with a deal taking up more than 13% of his team's salary cap," Shaffer wrote. "He happens to be maybe the most talented passer in league history. The Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes did it in 2022 (17.2% of the cap) and again this past season (16.8%).

"Jackson's 2024 cap hit (12.6% share) is far from onerous, but that was by design. His contract was back-loaded to accommodate more spending in these early years. The longer Jackson plays under his deal, the tougher it will be for him to deliver surplus value. To keep their Super Bowl window open down the road, the Ravens will either need Jackson to remain a superstar — especially one who stays off the injury report — or the league's salary cap to start a torrid climb. Or, ideally, both."

Shaffer added: "There are only so many players who can lead a franchise to glory, and with that glory comes, yes, even more money. But it never hurts to have a little more spending power. The only thing better than having a superstar quarterback is a bigger budget to get him another star or two."

Mel Kiper Jr. Mocks Georgia CB to Ravens

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has released his latest mock draft, and he has the Ravens selecting Georgia cornerback Kamari Lassiter with the 30th-overall pick.

"I'd like to see the Ravens make moves on defense this offseason, and they likely will have to use their cap space to keep some of their own players, including safety Geno Stone and defensive tackle Justin Madubuike," Kiper wrote. "Those moves should start at corner, so how about one more in this top 32? Lassiter makes six.

"Lassiter didn't get beat often last season. He didn't allow a single touchdown as the nearest defender in coverage, and in total, he allowed nine receptions for 91 yards. Those are elite numbers. The problem? He had one career interception, and that came in 2021. Teams will have questions about his lack of on-ball production. I'm a believer that production from corners can be developed, and I'm not worried. I am interested in seeing Lassiter's 40-yard dash time in Indianapolis, though."

Check out our latest mock draft roundup to see all the players who are being mocked to the Ravens.

Pundit Says Florida State WR Is Ideal First-Round Pick for Ravens

The Ravens have selected a wide receiver in the first round in three of the past five drafts, and Pro Football Focus’ Dalton Wasserman said the team's main goal in this year's draft should be to keep adding to the receiving corps.

Wasserman said Florida State wide receiver Keon Coleman is the ideal first-round pick for the Ravens.

"The Ravens are still incredibly loaded despite their disappointing playoff loss to the Chiefs," Wasserman wrote. "They have the NFL MVP at quarterback, field arguably the best defense in football and are stacked at tight end with Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely. Their wide receiver room still needs work, though. Zay Flowers had an excellent rookie season, but Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashod Bateman didn't give them consistent enough production.

"A second consecutive first-round selection at wide receiver would be a wise move. Florida State's Keon Coleman could give Baltimore a contested-catch option that they don't currently possess. Georgia's Ladd McConkey also makes sense as a smooth route runner who has familiarity with Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken."

The top receivers under contract for the Ravens are Flowers, Bateman, Nelson Agholor, and Tylan Wallace. The team is expecting Bateman, whose career has been hampered by injuries, to make a big leap in Year 4.

Kyle Van Noy Says He Didn't Leave His House for a Week After AFC Championship Loss

Outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy sat in with the "Good Morning Football" crew yesterday and reflected on his season as a Raven and how hard he took the loss to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship.

"I really took it to heart because I don't have many years left in me," said Van Noy, 32. "I don't know what my future holds so this one really didn't settle within me very well. I sat at my house for a week after this game. I didn't leave. That's how hard I took it."

Despite the disappointing ending to the season, Van Noy, who is one of the Ravens' many pending free agents, said the future is bright in Baltimore.

"What transpired from this is I think the core group of guys, this is going to motivate them — Tyler Linderbaum, Kyle Hamilton, Roquan Smith, and Lamar Jackson. It comes down to how is [Jackson] going to bounce back from that game, and I really believe in this dude."

Also during his appearance on the show, Van Noy was asked which rivalry he is most excited to watch in 2024. He went with Ravens vs. Bengals.

The veteran got a taste of the AFC North rivalry last season when Baltimore hosted Cincinnati in a Thursday night game in Week 11. (Van Noy did not play in the Week 2 matchup because he did not sign with the Ravens until late September.)

"It was lit. It felt like a playoff atmosphere," Van Noy said. "This game was electric. Joey B., you got Lamar. Both good defenses. … This rivalry between Joe Burrow and Lamar is here to stay. It's going to be a long time going against each other."

Co-host Colleen Wolfe added that the atmosphere at M&T Bank Stadium in general "is second to none."

"I love going to M&T Bank Stadium," Wolfe said. "I feel like their game presentation is so good."

The Ravens ranked No. 1 in game entertainment on the NFL's Voice of the Fan survey.

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