AFC North Rumors: Jackson, Watson, Steelers

A common conception of the situation surrounding the Ravens and quarterback Lamar Jackson‘s efforts towards a new deal has been that Jackson has refused to participate in negotiations. Jackson’s teammate, defensive lineman Calais Campbell, told the media this week that Jackson is more than willing to work out a new contract, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.

“He wants to get a deal done, and that’s the most important part” Campbell said on NFL Network. “Sometimes guys who are part of a team and don’t want to be there anymore use (free agency) as an opportunity to go elsewhere, but he wants to be (a Raven).”

Josina Anderson of CBS Sports reported yesterday that the Ravens remain “hopeful” for a new deal and that the team currently has their best offer yet on the table for Jackson. It’s reportedly not an all or nothing offer, as the Ravens are waiting for a counter to their proposal from Jackson. We have no certain facts as to what the deal may entail, but on The Athletic Football Show podcast hosted by Robert Mays, rumors were mentioned that Baltimore is willing to go up to $50MM per year and 80% guaranteed money. The team is running out of time before they’ll be required to tag Jackson or, barring a more preferred resolution, trade him.

Here are a few more rumors from around the AFC North, starting with one of the main reasons the Ravens are having such an issue with Jackson’s new contract:

  • News that comes as a surprise to absolutely nobody, the Browns are exploring restructuring the historic fully-guaranteed contract of quarterback Deshaun Watson, according to Mary Kay Cabot of The team is facing a challenge in getting under the salary cap and have already confirmed plans to release safety John Johnson in order to clear some space. After a first year of Watson’s contract that held a base salary of $402,500 and a cap hit of $9.40MM, Watson’s numbers in 2023 jump up to a base salary of $46MM and a record-setting cap hit of $54.99MM. Browns general manager Andrew Berry acknowledged that, with the team currently about $13.42MM over the cap, Watson’s mammoth contract could be a source of wiggle room with a restructure.
  • Since the Steelers waited until after last year’s draft to replace then-general manager Kevin Colbert, new general manager Omar Khan is going through his first draft process. According to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, Khan plans to use assistant general manager Andy Weidl much in the way Weidl was used in Philadelphia. That is to say that the Steelers will rely on Weidl to put together the team’s draft board before turning it over to the higher ups who will make the draft decisions. Weidl will utilize input from director of player scouting Mark Sadowski, director of college scouting Dan Colbert, and director of pro scouting Sheldon White, then Khan will work together with head coach Mike Tomlin and owner Art Rooney to make decisions.
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