Mink: I think the notion that the Ravens "won't pay" Lamar Jackson is false. The Ravens want to pay Jackson. They just haven't agreed on the numbers.
To your point, the question is: What is Jackson worth? It's whatever the market dictates. That's what both sides are about to get a better idea of since, starting March 13, Jackson will be free to negotiate with other teams under the non-exclusive franchise tag.
We don't know what the Ravens' current offer is, but according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen back in August (before the 2022 season), it was a deal worth around $250 million with more guaranteed money than Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray, but less than Deshaun Watson's fully-guaranteed $230 million. CBS Sports' Josina Anderson reported that Jackson wants more guaranteed than Watson. Again, these are just reports.
On Wednesday, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said the Ravens have tried "all sorts of ways to get Lamar Jackson to respond and take some sort of deal that would make him one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL."
Obviously, Jackson and the Ravens haven't agreed on what his value is because we don't have a deal yet. It's certainly not uncommon for two sides in contract negotiations to differ in their opinion of worth. In countless instances when free agents haven't come to an agreement prior to free agency opening, they test the market and either leave or realize their best offer was already on the table. Or the two sides use that process to find a middle ground.
The Ravens and Jackson haven't been able to find a sweet spot that works for both sides yet, but the market could help an agreement after two years of negotiations. That's certainly the hope, as General Manager Eric DeCosta made clear with his statement yesterday.
"We will continue to negotiate in good faith with Lamar, and we are hopeful that we can strike a long-term deal that is fair to both Lamar and the Ravens," DeCosta said. "Our ultimate goal is to build a championship team with Lamar Jackson leading the way for many years to come."
Mink: If Jackson signs an offer sheet from another team, the Ravens have the opportunity to match that offer. If the Ravens pass, they get that team's next two first-round picks.
What the Ravens do will depend upon what that offer sheet is. As stated above, I believe the Ravens want to keep Jackson in Baltimore. So if the offer sheet he signs with another team is close to the Ravens' standing offer or at a number they're willing to go to, they'll match it. If it's beyond what Baltimore is comfortable with, the Ravens will take the two first-rounders.
Mink: I think the Ravens will explore all avenues for acquiring wide receivers this offseason. The free-agent market for wideouts is being bolstered by cap casualties. DeAndre Hopkins is reportedly on the trade market, and others will probably join him. And of course there's the draft.
How aggressive the Ravens can be in the wide receiver market depends largely upon Jackson's contract, but at the $32.5 million non-exclusive tag, there should be enough wiggle room in there (after Baltimore makes some more tough decisions to clear cap space) to grab a free-agent wideout.
I think the Ravens will draft a wide receiver at least in the first three rounds. They won't be boxed into taking one in the first round, but it seems likely that at least one of the top wideouts will be available at No. 22 and it's certainly a possibility that they go in that direction.
Mink: Rashod Bateman will be back and both DeCosta and Head Coach John Harbaugh were very optimistic about his health after getting foot surgery last season. They both said they expect Bateman to have a big year in Todd Monken's new offense.
I think the Ravens will sign or re-sign another (primarily) outside wide receiver in free agency. That could include bringing back Demarcus Robinson or pursuing an unrestricted free agent. I expect the Ravens to draft a wide receiver early. Combine that with a return of Devin Duvernay and the Ravens should have a lot of competition for their No. 2/3 wide receiver spots.