What Does Kyler Murray's Megadeal Mean for Lamar Jackson?
Kyler Murray's massive contract extension with the Arizona Cardinals yesterday predictably sparked the question of what the deal means for Lamar Jackson, who is playing this season on his fifth-year option.
Murray and the Cardinals agreed to a five-year deal reportedly worth $230.5 million, including $160 million in guarantees. His guaranteed salary is second to Deshaun Watson ($230 million) and his $46.1 million average annual salary is second to Rodgers ($50.2 million on a three-year deal).
"The Murray deal essentially establishes a new market standard for the position at $46.1 million per year, which will likely impact another crucial negotiation for a marquee quarterback: Baltimore's Lamar Jackson," NFL.com’s Nick Shook wrote. "While Murray didn't receive a fully guaranteed contract like that of Cleveland's Deshaun Watson (five years, $230 million), he did take a total that is only $500,000 more than Watson's deal.
"The new benchmark, then, is in the $230 million range for five-year deals. That's the target the NFL should expect Jackson to seek whenever he and the Ravens get around to negotiating a new deal. For now, though, Jackson remains as the only star quarterback without a lucrative, long-term deal in place. We'll see whether this prompts Jackson and the Ravens to work on a new contract, or ride it out through his fifth-year option."
Contract negotiations between Jackson and the Ravens are ongoing. Any speculation that Jackson would be a holdout were quelled when he reported to training camp yesterday.
Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews Not Among Pro Football Focus' Top 50 Players
The snubs for Jackson and Mark Andrews just keep on coming.
Last week, Jackson was excluded from ESPN's top 10 quarterback rankings, and Andrews didn't crack the top three in the tight end rankings.
Today, neither of the All-Pros made the PFF50, Pro Football Focus' annual ranking of the top 50 players in the NFL. Safety Marcus Williams (No. 45) was the lone Raven in the PFF50.
PFF used its player grading system along with its wins above replacement (WAR) metric as the foundation for the rankings, while weighting toward the most recent season.
By any metric, it's mind-boggling that a quarterback with a .755 winning percentage who was the second unanimous MVP ever and a player coming off one of the best seasons for a tight end in NFL history aren't among the 50 best players in the league.
Six quarterbacks (No. 3. Aaron Rodgers; No. 5. Patrick Mahomes; No. 6. Josh Allen; No. 8. Tom Brady; No. 27. Joe Burrow; and No. 32. Justin Herbert) and two tight ends (No. 10. Travis Kelce and No. 20. George Kittle) made the rankings.
Steelers All-Pro Cameron Heyward Has Jackson's Back
Even a member of the arch rival Pittsburgh Steelers knows that Jackson's exclusion from ESPN's top 10 quarterback rankings "makes no sense."
"How the heck is he not a top 10 player? The guy just won an MVP two years ago," three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Cameron Heyward said on his “Not Just Football” podcast (via Steelers Depot). "I have the utmost respect for a guy like Lamar."
ESPN's rankings were the result of a survey of more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players, who apparently still don't know what to make of a quarterback with Jackson's unique skillset regardless of how much success he has.
"Is he a prototypical quarterback? No, but who's to say quarterbacks have to play a certain way?" Heyward said. "He's a younger guy that's gonna continue to develop and be one of the greats in our league. I just think he is a top quarterback in our league. For everybody to just put him down because he got hurt last year seems a little irrational."
Heyward, who has played against Jackson three times, went on to say how challenging it is to try to contain him.
"When we play Lamar, you've got to make sure everybody's accountable," Heyward said. "There's always got to be a spy, so when you do that, you can't have anybody in the back end, you're taking somebody out there. I don't know a lot of quarterbacks that can do that. This list just seems incomplete if you don't have Lamar on your top 10."
If the Ravens Sign a Veteran Wide Receiver, Should It Be Julio Jones or Will Fuller?
The question of whether the Ravens will sign a veteran wide receiver before the start of the season continues to linger. The two free agents most often named as candidates are Julio Jones and Will Fuller V.
Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballantine said the Ravens signing Jones is a "no-brainer" because the team's young wide receiving corps would benefit from having "a veteran who knows how to succeed in the NFL."
"Julio Jones isn't the All-Pro player he once was, but he still fits that bill," Ballantine wrote. "Jones is a strong leader who would provide a great presence in the locker room. That alone is a good reason to sign him, but he can also still provide a big-bodied receiver for Lamar Jackson on the field.
"The 33-year-old has struggled to stay healthy. He's only made 19 appearances over the past two seasons, but he's also just one season removed from averaging 11.3 yards per target, which would have been the best mark among all Ravens receivers last season."
Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox said the Ravens would be a good fit for Fuller, a speedster who has a skill set similar to Marquise Brown, who Baltimore traded in April.
"Fuller could step right in as Lamar Jackson's new deep threat on the perimeter," Knox wrote.
Fuller is five years younger than Jones but he has a lengthy injury history. Fuller has played more than 11 games in a season just once (his rookie year in 2016).