Ravens GM Eric DeCosta said last month he has gone back and forth on the exclusive-or-nonexclusive decision regarding Lamar Jackson‘s imminent franchise tag. A month from the March tag deadline, the sense is the Ravens will be the rare team to unholster the exclusive tag.
The Ravens should be expected use the exclusive tag, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com said during a Pat McAfee Show appearance (video link). Execs around the league believe the Ravens should use this rarely deployed player-retention tool to cuff their five-year starter, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com adds. The Ravens have until March 7 to tag Jackson.
Nonexclusive franchise tag figures surfaced last week. While it would cost Baltimore more than $32.42MM to use the standard franchise tag on Jackson, an exclusive tag — which prevents other teams from negotiating with players — is expected to come in just north of $45MM. That is uncharted cap terrain for the Ravens, who rostered Jackson on a $23MM fifth-year option in 2022.
The exclusive quarterback tag brings a price hike into historic cap territory, and given Jackson’s path since becoming extension-eligible, the Ravens will likely be forced to carry that number on their payroll for a while. The sides have not made progress since DeCosta and John Harbaugh emphatically endorsed a Jackson return, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Although the Ravens have not given up hope of extending Jackson before free agency, per Zrebiec, everything that has transpired to this point does not suggest that will happen.
A potentially unbridgeable gap in guaranteed money exists here, with the Ravens having offered $133MM fully guaranteed last year and Jackson seeking a number that outflanks Deshaun Watson‘s record-shattering $230MM figure. In a vacuum, Jackson is justified in asking for that. But teams are treating the Browns’ 2022 Watson deal — which came amid a four-team trade sweepstakes — as an outlier. Steve Bisciotti said last year he wished the Browns had not gone to that guarantee place for Watson, and it indeed affected the former Browns franchise’s talks with its passer. The Ravens remain unlikely to offer a fully guaranteed deal, Zrebiec adds.
Jackson skipped the Ravens’ offseason workouts last year. Absent a deal, it should not be expected the five-year veteran will show for Baltimore’s voluntary portion this year. Until Jackson signs his franchise tender, he would not be obligated to attend minicamp or training camp, either. With the Ravens retooling on offense this offseason, Jackson attendance will be more important than it was last year. The Ravens are also involving the pending free agent in their OC search.
Compared to most teams, the Ravens are in good cap place. They hold nearly $27MM in space, sitting within the top 10 leaguewide. That would change once a Jackson exclusive tag enters the picture. The dual-threat star has refused Baltimore’s best offers thus far, and although he must sign the tag to lock in that $45MM, the self-represented player’s unorthodox approach regarding his second contract could certainly lead to him making the Ravens sweat leading up to the season.
A nonexclusive tag stipulates teams can pry tagged performers away with two first-round picks. The Ravens using the exclusive tag would allow them to set a different trade market, and while Rapoport adds a trade remains unlikely, paying the extra $13MM would move the boundary for trade compensation. Watson is the only quarterback to fetch three first-round picks since the 1970s, but Jackson — a three-time Pro Bowler with an MVP honor on his resume — has outperformed the controversial QB. Then again, it would require more adjustments to a team’s offense to build an attack around Jackson’s unique skillset.
Trade calls should be expected, Fowler adds, but this part of the Jackson process does not appear to have ignited just yet. A January report pointed to teams believing the Ravens will, in fact, make Jackson available. But DeCosta and Harbaugh’s strong endorsements push back on that. Though, pivoting to a trade after such statements would not exactly be an NFL first. We do appear headed toward a full-fledged third round of these negotiations, and no end is in sight.
33 comments on “Ravens Likely To Use Exclusive Franchise Tag On Lamar Jackson”
Difference between successful and unsuccessful franchises would be the Ravens vs the Browns. Browns paid $100m+ more for a QB than the Ravens even think about. And Watson was average when he got back on the field.
League executives are always looking to blame some team for creating an “outlier” and pushing salaries higher. I remember the Jets getting crucified for offering Namath the then absurd amount of $400,000.
I don’t believe the 133 million is the amount of the contract. It’s just the amount of guaranteed money. The Browns paying the full guaranteed contract might just get rid of Jackson from the division. Now they gotta hope that Burrow wants a fully guaranteed contract too. If you can’t beat them, make them get rid of their star quarterback. Sounds like a genius move
Great idea. Then tie him up long term and ruin your salary cap while you’re at it.
—- signed, a Steeler fan
It’s the Aaron Rodgers/Russell Wilson model. May them all your cap and then listen to them complain about not having an offensive line or skill position players.
And as a Steelers fan, I hope Jackson plays his entire career as a Raven. He’s a tremendous athlete, but will never be a QB I worry about.
Jackson and the #22 pick to the bears for fields and the #1… Baltimore then flips the #1 to the Colts for a package headlined by the #4 and #36 picks. Who says no first?
No Thanks he’s yours
That’s about the stupidest trade offer ever. Why would the Bears want a QB on an expensive contract that is hurt half the season and won’t age any better? Fields is a cheaper, younger version. Still not a polished passer, but I’d take the growing pains over what Jackson offers.
Ravens should look into the other tag next year. Let someone pay him and take the 2 1st round picks. And laugh all the way.
Ravens say no. They aren’t giving away Lamar for Fields, #4 and #36. Fields is meh and is not taking any team anywhere.
As a Ravens fan, I’m taking Fields and the #1 pick all day long. I love Lamar, but I don’t know if he’ll stay healthy enough to take us to the promised land. Fields is a middle-of-the-pack QB, but he’s one who can take us places if we use our money wisely and get an impact WR or two.
Fields took his team to the #1:draft pick this year. Jackson wins games and Fields doesn’t.
Just make him a RB they’ll be better off. They’re backup Hundley has better QB skills
Ozzie Newsome where art thou…. ?
With Ozzie at the helm this would not be an issue. Mr. Jackson here is your offer, here are the reasons why this is the offer, you are free to see if you can get a better deal. As an organization you cannot tag him at $33 million a year and then negotiate that you will not pay him that.
Of course this would happen behind closed doors if Jackson had an agent. Don’t tell me that an agent would not be willing to negotiate a better rate for Mr. Jackson’s contract then 3%, especially when the base is $130 mil guaranteed.
I don’t understand Bisciotti or DeCosta’s reluctance. There is no offense without Lamar, and the offense isn’t good enough to be competitive with a stop gap solution at QB, nor would Baltimore an attractive place for free agent QB’s. You’re going to waste the next few years of an outstanding defense, excellent offensive line, the prime of Mark Andrews and JK Dobbins to prove what point exactly?
And how many super bowls have the Ravens won with him?
He’s aging. His style of play is a ticking time bomb for injuries.
That’s because he has no actual QB skills. He’s a RB playing the position.
He just turned 26! lmao
Yes, but he meant in dog years. That’s 182 to you and me
@californiatribesman / Your comment does a good job of revealing the risks of a passer centric model where the whole offensive system depends on a single player. It’s a very expensive system with little flexibility. The Ravens have little leverage with Lamar having committed to this system. Some feel the Ravens have constructed a house of cards just waiting to crash. If that happens, the merits of the passer centric model might be re-evaluated…as I think it should be.
Waste of money using the exclusive tag. I doubt there are many teams out there that will pay $32+ million a year for this guy as they’d need to be willing and able to re-vamp their entire offense in one offseason.
If that’s the case, the Ravens will save $13 million on their cap…but only if Lamar signs the contract
Ravens will get more than two #1s for Lamar. Atlanta has been in the rumors. Two #1s, a 2nd, Ridder and Drake London. Seems more than fair and Mr. Blank wants a star QB.
No one will trade for him because no one will EVER pay him more guaranteed money than Watson’s deal. According to this article, that’s what he’s holding out for. It ain’t gonna happen.
I doubt it. That would be like someone trading 2 #1s, 2 #2s, and a top-15 TE for a decent+ like Wilson.
The peanut gallery wants Lamar gone. Ravens teammates, other NFL players, even NBA ballers all want Lamar paid. The last 2 seasons prove Baltimore’s not the same team without Lamar. What’s going to decide that argument?
how many playoff games dude won? and he wants to be paid like what? stay away from this guy.
Peyton Manning started 1-3 playoff record too. The Ravens have a 2-10 record the last 2 seasons without Jackson. Sounds to me that maybe Jackson’s playoff record may have something to do with no supporting cast. Good teams can do better than 2-10 with a backup quarterback
nobody was questioning mannings career arc on his rsc like jackson is. manning started 2-4 playoffs on his first contract.
And Jackson just ended his 1st contract. The Ravens got into the playoffs this year simply because of Jackson. They had a losing record without him. The name of the game is winning and Jackson wins, as well as any quarterback not named Mahomes in the last 5 years in the AFC
Lamar will get paid by some desperate team, but he needs to compromise to stay with Ravens or he will be traded. Lots of owners need a QB with his electric talents. It will take a haul of picks and good young players. Starting safety Chuck Clark has been mentioned as part of a trade.
You are right about Peyton and Colts early playoff struggles. He was all world and a true pro. Not many like him and a throwback to the great pocket QBs.
I can’t see the sense in using the Exclusive tag. The $13 million in cap space would come in very handy. If there’s a team who wants Jackson enough to sign him for the money he wants and is willing to deal Baltimore the two first round draft picks, Baltimore and Jackson will both be better off.
The Exclusive tag means no trade (attached to those contract demands) and a very sulky, moody Jackson who’s not exactly a ray of light when things are going his way.
Steelers fans must be delighted to watch this meltdown take place.