Lamar Jackson

Ravens, Lamar Jackson Still In Talks

The Ravens and Lamar Jackson are still in active discussions about a contract extension, sources tell ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter. However, no deal has materialized yet as Jackson remains focused on the season ahead.

Jackson does not have an agent representing him, which probably isn’t helping with the pace of negotiations. A deal could be struck during the season, Schefter hears, but that’ll probably happen at a juncture when the quarterback can devote more attention to the talks. Baltimore’s bye week falls on Week 8 this year, so we could see a deal come together in late October.

Bills QB Josh Allen has given the two sides a framework, at least. His six-year extension is worth $258MM with $150MM in overall guarantees and a record $100MM fully guaranteed at signing. Jackson could soon knock him off of his perch. For now, the 24-year-old superstar is due just $1.78MM in base salary this season.

Jackson has said he is not overly concerned if the extension becomes finalized this year or in 2022Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins played out their low-priced rookie deal fourth years, leading to franchise-tagged seasons. However, other young QBs like Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill (2015), Derek Carr(2017), Carson Wentz and Jared Goff (2019), Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson (2020) opted against playing on their rookie pacts beyond Year 3.

Meanwhile, Jackson is all biz and focused on the task at hand. He’ll look to start 2021 with a win against the Raiders later today.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Lamar, Schobert, Browns

Even after Josh Allen‘s Bills extension, the Ravens and Lamar Jackson are continuing their methodical approach to what will be the biggest contract in franchise history. Although Jackson expressed happiness for Allen landing a $43MM-per-year deal with a record guarantee, the fourth-year Baltimore quarterback said his extension will come in due time. John Harbaugh, who has said Jackson will be extended either this year or next, added (via Baltimore Beatdown’s Joshua Reed) that Allen’s deal does not change anything regarding the Ravens’ negotiations with Jackson. Allen’s deal almost certainly will affect Jackson’s, potentially setting up the 2019 MVP to command a Patrick Mahomes-level salary without the 10-year commitment.

The quarterback market catching up to Mahomes’ $45MM AAV so quickly may make things interesting in Kansas City in the coming years, with the 2018 MVP signed through 2031. The bulk of the recent big-ticket quarterback contracts have come before passers’ fourth seasons, so time is running short for the Ravens and their agentless QB to agree on a deal that will allow Jackson to make more than $1.78MM this year.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Shortly after trading for Joe Schobert, the Steelers have restructured the veteran linebacker’s contract. Schobert’s 2021 cap number has dropped to $1.74MM, with Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweeting the move will create nearly $2MM in cap space. The Steelers frequently restructure contracts to create cap space, and the team has a rather critical contract to complete soon. T.J. Watt has gone through with a partial hold-in, staying out of team drills until he lands an extension. The Steelers are not believed to be eyeing a Minkah Fitzpatrick re-up until next year, with the safety under contract through the 2022 season, putting a Watt deal center stage. Watt’s contract is up after 2021.
  • The Steelers are preparing Schobert for a big workload. The former Browns linebacker is slated to start, be Pittsburgh’s dime ‘backer and wear the green dot that signifies he will communicate with coaches pre-snap, Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com tweets. Quite the plan for a player who has been with the team less than a week, but Schobert played 99% of his team’s defensive snaps in each of the past two seasons. Pittsburgh’s designs for Schobert will mark a transition for Devin Bush, but Steelers DC Keith Butler said (via The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette; subscription required) the team wants the former first-round pick to focus solely on returning to full strength. Bush is coming back after suffering an ACL tear last October.
  • Grant Delpit‘s comeback continues to hit snags. Completing a return from the Achilles rupture he suffered last August, Delpit injured his hamstring after just nine practice snaps. The Browns safety has since aggravated that hamstring issue and will miss more time, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes. Delpit was already iffy for Cleveland’s Week 1 game in Kansas City. The LSU product missing the start of the Browns’ season now looks likelier.

Lamar Jackson’s Mother Not Involved In Ravens Talks?

Lamar Jackson‘s decision not to use a traditional agent has made his extension talks with the Ravens one of this year’s top storylines. It is one thing to use this setup to negotiate a draft-slot deal, but hammering out a near-NFL-record extension without an agent veers into new territory.

Previous reports have indicated Jackson and his mother were leading the way in discussing the contract with the Ravens, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes more parties are involved. Jackson’s mother, Felicia Jones, is not believed to be directly involved in the talks, per Florio. Instead, Jackson and advisers are leading the negotiations.

Still, the 2019 MVP is negotiating a deal expected to surpass $40MM annually without an agent. Although the likes of Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner finalized notable contracts without an agent, with the latter’s $18MM-per-year pact still the NFL’s top off-ball linebacker figure nearly two years later, Jackson going without an NFLPA-certified agent is a bit different. The NFLPA has approached Jackson about this setup, but the fourth-year quarterback has not hired an agent.

The dual-threat quarterback’s atypical skill set will factor into these agent-less discussions; his struggles in three Ravens playoff losses might as well. Jackson’s run-game usage dwarfs the other current top-dollar QBs, creating a potential longevity concern. The Ravens also have him signed for two more seasons, via the fifth-year option. John Harbaugh, however, has assured an extension will come to pass.

Jackson has said he is not overly concerned if the extension becomes finalized this year or in 2022. The 24-year-old superstar is due just $1.78MM in base salary this season. The modern rookie-contract structure has driven many young quarterbacks to sign extensions before their fourth seasons. Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins played out their low-priced fourth years, leading to franchise-tagged seasons, but the rest of the young quarterbacks to sign lucrative re-ups over the past several years — Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill (2015), Derek Carr (2017), Carson Wentz and Jared Goff (2019), Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson (2020) — opted against playing on their rookie contracts beyond Year 3.

Given the circumstances, it will be interesting to see the guarantee structure and how this extension will stack up next to the agent-driven accords fellow 2018 first-rounders Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield end up signing. How close the AAV comes to Mahomes’ unusually structured deal will obviously be notable as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Jackson, Sanders, DeCastro

There’s been a lot of talk about the coming Lamar Jackson extension this offseason. Both he and the Ravens have insisted something will get worked out, and that they’re not worried about when. We heard this past week that Jackson was still operating without an agent, and that his mother was running point on negotiations as his business partner. Apparently that has some people concerned, causing the NFLPA to reach out. The players’ union “has tried to assist to no avail,” during the process, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes.

La Canfora says Jackson has received “zero guidance” from the NFLPA. He also notes that since no agent is involved, there’s naturally “zero flow of information about it in the agent community.” La Canfora opines that since the contract negotiation process “requires exposing warts and engaging in a bare-fisted back-and-forth at times,” it can be a “far easier exchange with a third party.” He also says he’s inclined to think the negotiations drag “on for a while, and we don’t get a lot of action in the first half of July.” It’s a unique situation for the Ravens and their franchise quarterback, and one everyone around the league will be watching with eyebrows raised. It should be very interesting to see how it all plays out.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • The Bills finally got their man, signing Emmanuel Sanders to a one-year deal this past offseason. Apparently they’ve been after the veteran receiver for a while. GM Brandon Beane tried to trade for Sanders at the 2019 trade deadline, Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic writes. He was ultimately traded from the Broncos to the 49ers at that deadline instead. We knew Buffalo pursued him in free agency last year, but he ended up signing with the Saints. The third time turned out to be the charm. Sanders turned 34 in March but remained fairly productive in New Orleans last season and Buscaglia seems bullish on his outlook, writing that he’s the “most underrated piece” of the Bills’ offense and that Josh Allen looked for him often during recent practices.
  • David DeCastro was just released by the Steelers last week, and the veteran lineman is reportedly considering retirement. Although DeCastro will apparently wait at least a couple of months before deciding whether or not to play again, he has another decision that sounds easier for him to make. DeCastro is “likely to file a grievance” through the NFLPA against the Steelers, Ed Bouchette of The Athletic writes. Pittsburgh released him with a non-football injury designation, but DeCastro said recently the ankle problem for which he’ll soon undergo another surgery is something he was dealing with from last season that didn’t heal right. Bouchette seems to think the Steelers know they’ll have to end up paying DeCastro some more money down the line, but that they made the move so they’d immediately be able to fit Trai Turner‘s contract into their salary cap.

Lamar Jackson Still Without Agent, Mom Partnering On Extension Talks With Ravens

Just about everybody involved agrees the Ravens and Lamar Jackson are going to get an extension done at some point in the near future. Just recently Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh called it a “done deal” and said Jackson is “going to get paid.”

For his part, the star quarterback has said he doesn’t care whether it gets done this year or next, and all seems well. But the negotiations leading up to this extension are going to be very interesting, in part because Jackson is still operating without an agent, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link via the Pat McAfee show).

Jackson’s mother is his business partner and is serving as his de-facto agent in this process, Rapoport says. They used the same setup to negotiate his rookie deal and that went through without a hitch, although obviously this is a different animal.

Jackson is “seeing the same sort of eyebrows raised from the agent community and from players as well because his mother is doing it,” Rapsheet reports. “The stakes are incredibly high because if you lock yourself into a bad deal you’d be costing yourself tens of millions of dollars.”

Rapoport also notes that the Ravens are often good at getting team-friendly deals done, making this negotiation particularly “fascinating.”

Jackson, and his mother, will surely be looking for a payday in line with the league’s other top passers. Dak Prescott got four-years, $160MM from the Cowboys back in March, which will be an interesting baseline to compare Jackson’s new deal against.

Of course the NFL is different from other leagues, where it’s not just the top-line dollar amount that matters most, but rather the structure of guarantees and other important accounting details. There’s no reason to believe Jackson and his family don’t know what they’re doing, but the unusual setup will ensure his deal is highly scrutinized whenever it comes.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Harbaugh: Lamar Jackson ‘Going To Get Paid’

It seems like only a matter of time before Lamar Jackson gets a mega-extension. Speaking to the media Wednesday, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh seemed to indicate it’s already set in stone.

Harbaugh was asked whether Jackson would be affected if he didn’t get a new contract before the season starter, to which he replied “absolutely not,” via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

“He’s going to get paid. He knows that. The question becomes what’s his legacy going to be as a QB? The other thing is a done deal,” Harbaugh continued. We heard back in February that the two sides were apparently far apart on financial terms. Reports got better after that, with both Harbaugh and Jackson saying publicly they weren’t concerned.

We’ve since heard that they’ve commenced actual talks, and it sounds like the financial side of things is getting better. Jackson said last month that he isn’t concerned whether an extension happens this year or next.

He’s under contract through the 2022 campaign after the team picked up his fully guaranteed $23.1MM fifth-year salary for that season. After becoming a unanimous MVP a couple years ago Jackson, who currently operates as his own agent, will surely be looking for a payday in line with the league’s other top passers.

Dak Prescott got four years and $160MM back in March, and it’ll be very interesting to see how Jackson’s forthcoming extension compares to that. Either way, don’t anticipate much drama in these talks like there have been with other quarterbacks, as everyone involved continues to insist it’ll be smooth sailing.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lamar Jackson Talks Extension Timetable

For the time being, Lamar Jackson is working as his own agent. Although the former MVP did not confirm that will remain the case during extension talks, he currently stands to play the lead role in his negotiations. The fourth-year Ravens passer addressed his status Wednesday.

John Harbaugh said earlier this offseason a Jackson extension would commence either this year or next. Because the Ravens picked up Jackson’s fifth-year option, he is under contract through 2022. His timetable still appears fluid.

I’m not really worried about if it gets done this year or next year,” Jackson said (video link). “We’re going to see. We don’t know yet.

Jackson’s rookie deal calls for a $1.77MM base salary this season. The 24-year-old superstar confirmed he and GM Eric DeCosta began to discuss his second contract earlier this year. Dak Prescott‘s four-year, $160MM extension figures to be a key benchmark in Jackson’s talks, just as Deshaun Watson‘s four-year, $156MM pact factored into Prescott’s down-to-the-wire negotiations. Patrick Mahomes‘ $45MM-AAV deal — a 10-year re-up — continues to look like an outlier.

Prescott opted to maximize his value, not agreeing to his extension until the franchise tag deadline ahead of his sixth season. The rest of the recent QB draftees to sign lucrative extensions — Mahomes, Watson, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff — opted to lock in big money earlier. Each agreed to deals ahead of their fourth seasons. Jackson and Josh Allen are on the same timetableBaker Mayfield factors into this picture as well, though the Browns are not believed to have talked an extension yet. Each 2018 first-rounder has become extension-eligible at an interesting time for the quarterback position.

This offseason has brought tremendous QB movement. Five 2020 starters have been traded thus far this year; Watson and Aaron Rodgers are eager to join the carousel. Jackson, however, is not presently interested in exploring his options beyond Maryland.

I would love to be here forever,” Jackson said. “I love Baltimore. I love the whole organization. I love everybody in the building. Hopefully, we’ll be making something happen pretty soon whenever.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Pick Up Lamar Jackson’s Fifth-Year Option

FRIDAY: The Ravens have followed through with Harbaugh’s guarantee. They picked up Jackson’s $23.106MM fully guaranteed option. The league’s top dual-threat quarterback is now under contract through 2022.

TUESDAY: We can file this one under the “obvious” category. During an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh “guaranteed” that the team would pick up Lamar Jackson‘s fifth-year option (via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport on Twitter).

Teams have until May 3 to pick up options on 2018 first-rounders who are entering the final year of their rookie deals. Considering Jackson’s accolades, we all probably could have guaranteed that this transaction was was going to happen. For those wondering, Harbaugh said that there’s “nothing to the fact” that the two sides have waited to make the move.

Jackson, the final pick of that 2018 first round, has a fifth-year option that’s valued at $23.106MM (fully guaranteed).

The real question is if the Ravens and Jackson can somehow agree to an extension before the May 3 deadline. We heard earlier this month that the two sides had started negotiations, and while both teams seem receptive to a long-term pact, it could take some time to agree to terms. As our own Zach Links pointed out, quarterbacks like Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, and Carson Wentz all opted for security ahead of their fourth-year rookie contracts and earned sizable paydays; it wouldn’t be shocking if Jackson inevitably takes the same route. Previous reports indicated that the former MVP was seeking a contract similar to Deshaun Watson‘s four-year, $156MM deal.

Jackson followed up his 2019 MVP campaign with another standout season in 2020. He led the Ravens to an 11-4 record in 15 starts, connecting on 64.4-percent of his passes for 2,757 yards, 26 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. He also added another 1,005 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2022 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 3 to officially pick up their options on 2018 first-rounders who are entering the final year of their rookie deals. In a change from years past, fifth-year option seasons are fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement, and specific performance metrics:

  • 2-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • 1-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • 75%+ snaps in two of their first three seasons
    • 75%+ average across all three seasons
    • 50%+ in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will get the average of the 3rd-25th top salaries at their position.

With the deadline looming, we’ll use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

Updated 4-30-21, 4:24pm CT

  1. QB Baker Mayfield, Browns: Exercised ($18.858MM)
  2. RB Saquon Barkley, Giants: Exercised ($7.217MM)
  3. QB Sam Darnold, Panthers (via Jets): Pending ($18.858MM)
  4. CB Denzel Ward, Browns — Exercised ($13.294MM)
  5. LB Bradley Chubb, Broncos — Pending ($12.716MM)
  6. G Quenton Nelson, Colts — Pending ($13.754MM)
  7. QB Josh Allen, Bills: Pending ($23.106MM)
  8. LB Roquan Smith, Bears: Exercised ($9.735MM)
  9. OT Mike McGlinchey, 49ers: Exercised ($10.88MM)
  10. QB Josh Rosen, Cardinals: N/A
  11. S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers (via Dolphins): Exercised ($10.612MM)
  12. DT Vita Vea, Buccaneers: Exercised ($7.638MM)
  13. DT Daron Payne, Washington — Exercised ($8.529MM)
  14. DE Marcus Davenport, Saints: Exercised ($9.553MM)
  15. OT Kolton Miller, Raiders — N/A (extension)
  16. LB Tremaine Edmunds, Bills: Pending ($12.716MM)
  17. S Derwin James, Chargers: Exercised ($9.052MM)
  18. CB Jaire Alexander, Packers: Exercised ($13.294MM)
  19. LB Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys: Pending ($9.145MM)
  20. C Frank Ragnow, Lions: Exercised ($12.657MM)
  21. C Billy Price, Bengals: Declined ($10.413MM)
  22. LB Rashaan Evans, Titans: Pending ($9.735MM)
  23. OT Isaiah Wynn, Patriots: Pending ($10.413 MM)
  24. WR D.J. Moore, Panthers: Exercised ($11.116MM)
  25. TE Hayden Hurst, Falcons (via Ravens): Pending ($5.428MM)
  26. WR Calvin Ridley, Falcons: Pending ($11.116MM)
  27. RB Rashaad Penny, Seahawks: Pending ($4.523MM)
  28. S Terrell Edmunds, Steelers: Pending ($6.753MM)
  29. DT Taven Bryan, Jaguars: Pending ($7.638MM)
  30. CB Mike Hughes, Vikings: Pending ($12.643MM)
  31. RB Sony Michel, Patriots: Pending ($4.523MM)
  32. QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens: Exercised ($23.106MM)

Ravens, Lamar Jackson Begin Extension Talks

The Ravens and Lamar Jackson have kicked off extension talks, according to GM Eric DeCosta. Jackson, who represents himself, is currently scheduled to earn just $1.77MM in base salary this season.

That’s ongoing. That’s definitely a fluid thing. Lamar and I have had a discussion about that,” DeCosta said (YouTube link). “I think it’s important to us and it’s important to him. I think Lamar is obviously a very patient guy. He wants to be the best he can be. He wants this team to be the best it can be and he wants to win very badly. So, we’re aligned that way.”

There’s mutual interest in a new deal, though the Ravens aren’t necessarily in a rush. Beyond his low-priced 2021 season, the Ravens can exercise Jackson’s fifth-year option — a fully guaranteed $23.1MM — to keep him under club control through 2022.

If the numbers are right, Jackson would probably prefer to take the safer route. Quarterbacks like Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, and Carson Wentz all opted for security ahead of their fourth-year rookie contracts and earned sizable paydays. On the other hand, he could follow Dak Prescott‘s playbook, which resulted in a four-year, $160MM megadeal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.