As Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens prepare to play the Miami Dolphins this Sunday, the star quarterback’s future is still up in the air.
And Miami could be in play there also.
You’re probably aware of what was originally a report by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that the Ravens offered the former MVP a six-year deal that could be worth more than $290 million because only $133 million was fully guaranteed. And that Jackson, who represents himself rather than working with an agent, rejected the deal and decided to play out the last year of his contract.
But we have also learned at 5RSN that Jackson, who was born in Pompano Beach and played at Boynton Beach High, has the Dolphins high on his list if he cannot come to terms to remain in Baltimore.
Here is some background:
Lamar Jackson’s current contract
Per Spotrac, Jackson’s contract is his rookie deal and entering the fifth and final year of his contract. Meaning, after this season he may become an unrestricted free agent after the season, unless the Ravens organization decides to franchise tag Lamar Jackson.
Over the cap projects the franchise tag for a QB in 2023 to be worth $31.5 million. The Ravens have franchised tagged one of their own former quarterbacks in the past in Joe Flacco. Would it be worth the risk if Jackson plays on the tag and hits free agency after a year?
Jackson will make around $23 million in his fifth-year option but has no guaranteed money after this season. His hope is to land an extension after this season with the Ravens, who are expected to apply their franchise tag on Jackson and prevent him from hitting free agency if the sides still are unable to reach a deal.
Timeline on Lamar Jackson’s new contract
It sounds absurd for Jackson to decline a monster $290 million contract, but it came with stipulations.
The deal was reportedly in the same ballpark as Russel Wilson and Kyler Murray’s contract. However, Jackson does not see himself on the same tier as Wilson and Murray. The Ravens quarterback wants a contract similar to the fully guaranteed deal Deshaun Watson received from the Cleveland Browns.
Per source, the Ravens organization are hesitant to give Jackson a fully guaranteed deal worth over $200 million. The value of Lamar Jackson’s contract is uniquely looked at on the field.
Jackson, acting as his own agent along with his mother and the NFL Players Association, wants a fully guaranteed deal to secure his future based on injury risk. He has taken more hits amongst all NFL quarterbacks (737) since 2018.
“It was a pretty big risk last season. The year before,”I’m just playing football. Anything can happen. God forbid the wrong thing happens.”
The Ravens have offered Jackson more than what Kyler Murray currently has. One of the unique situations is the value of Deshaun Watson contract which Jackson wants. Jackson, like Watson, is in the prime of his career; however, the Browns are a dysfunctional franchise badly in need of a long-term solution under center. The Ravens are not.
A source close to Jackson stated that Jackson was going to sign on Monday, September 5th. Yet, the Ravens modified the contract by putting a hefty monetary incentive for a Superbowl pushing it upwards of $270 million. Lamar Jackson declined the offer.
Furthermore, Jackson asked for Greg Roman to not be the play-caller if he were to sign due to the play style the last few seasons and potential risk of injury. There’s been murmur of Jackson disliking of the playcalling “upstairs”, while comments of offensive coordinator throwing shade on Jackson improvement in passing the ball. When asked if Jacksons improvements on throwing the ball would “open up the playbook”, Roman replied “No.”
What’s next for Lamar?
According to a source close to Jackson, he’s privately told those close to him that he will not play if the franchise tag is placed on him.
Unless the Ravens change their stance and offer Jackson what he’s asked, the potential for a sign and trade is open. It would look poorly on the Ravens organization if Lamar is left to deal with the open market in free agency.
Jackson does have a list of teams he would be interested in going to. Per source the list includes the Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles.
The Detroit Lions have the offensive weapons for Jackson. The Lions have a young but solid offensive line, a workhorse running back and pass catching weapons. The Lions defense is a concern right now but have franchise cornerstones in Jeffrey Okudah and Aidan Hutchinson.
The Philadelphia Eagles have Jalen Hurts as their current quarterback but they may not be sold just yet. The Eagles have two very good tackles that can handle their own in the trenches, a solid run game, a dominant receiver in A.J. Brown and a potential top five defense in the NFL. Furthermore, the Eagles have the draft capital to lure the Ravens into a sign and trade deal.
The Miami Dolphins are an interesting choice because of Jackson’s ties here. There’s buzz around current Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s 3rd year being “make or break,” even though new coach Mike McDaniel has showed a strong commitment to him so far. The offense consists of weapons like Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and Chase Edmonds to complement a top defense in the NFL. However, will Chris Grier have the asset to secure Jackson? The quarterback the currently-suspended Dolphins owner Steve Ross wanted in the 2018 NFL draft?
While contract talks have stalled, the conversation about Jackson will continue, here and elsewhere — and is likely to get louder after he faces Miami on Sunday.
Hussam Patel is a Miami Dolphins contributor and Lead NFL Draft analyst at Five Reasons Sports Network, Director of Scouting at PhinManiacs and Editor at Dolphins ATB. Follow him on Twitter at @HussamPatel