Lamar Jackson

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.

AFC North Notes: Lamar, Stanley, Atkins

Conflicting reports emerged early regarding Lamar Jackson extension talks with the Ravens. The self-represented quarterback has, in fact, engaged in discussions with the team, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (video link). While it does not sound like the talks have progressed too far, GM Eric DeCosta said he and Jackson have spoken about the framework of a deal, Hensley adds. An earlier report indicated the Ravens and Jackson were not close on terms, and while that may be, DeCosta confirmed true negotiations will commence at some point. John Harbaugh said earlier this year a Jackson extension would likely come to pass either this offseason or in 2022. Jackson is due just $1.77MM in base salary this season.

Several quarterbacks — Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson — have opted for extensions going into their fourth seasons in recent years, rather than earn rookie-contract money in Year 4. Dak Prescott waited, and that worked out well. Prescott’s new deal figures to help Jackson, as do the impending new TV deals that could restore the NFL’s salary cap growth. The Ravens will certainly pick up Jackson’s fifth-year option — a fully guaranteed $23.1MM — in May, giving them more time to work out a deal.

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • After trading Geno Atkins‘ longtime defensive line mate, the Bengals are not committing to bringing back their perennial Pro Bowl defensive tackle. Cincinnati shipped Carlos Dunlap to Seattle, after reducing his role last season, and used Atkins in a part-time capacity during his eight-game 2020 season. The 11-year veteran battled a shoulder injury last season. “We’ll see what if any of the room we need to do some other things. It’s a fluid situation,” Bengals player personnel director Duke Tobin said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Tyler Dragon. “… He’s a homegrown product, really a success story and a guy I have loved watching grow over the years. He gave us what he had last year but it was not near what he’s used to and what we are used to seeing.” Atkins, who will turn 33 later this month, should not be expected back on a $14.7MM cap number. It will be interesting to see how the Bengals proceed with their seven-time Pro Bowler.
  • Having missed out on J.J. Watt, the Browns are expected to pursue a big-ticket defensive end to complement Myles Garrett. They created another vacancy up front, cutting Adrian Clayborn after one season.

NFL’s Fifth-Year Option Salaries For 2021

The NFL’s 2021 salary cap has been set at $182.5MM, marking the league’s first reduction in a decade. With that, the league has also ironed out the value of this year’s fifth-round option for 2018 first-round picks.

Here’s the full rundown, via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter):

1. Baker Mayfield, Browns, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

2. Saquon Barkley, Giants, RB — $7.217MM (1x Pro Bowl)

3. Sam Darnold, Jets, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

4. Denzel Ward, Browns, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

5. Bradley Chubb, Broncos, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

6. Quenton Nelson, Colts, G — $13.754MM (2x Pro Bowl)

7. Josh Allen, Bills, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

8. Roquan Smith, Bears, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

9. Mike McGlinchey, 49ers, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

10. Josh Rosen, Cardinals, QB*

11. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers, S (drafted by Dolphins) — $10.612MM (2x Pro Bowl)

12. Vita Vea, Buccaneers, DT — $7.638MM

13. Daron Payne, Washington, DT — $8.529MM (playing time)

14. Marcus Davenport, Saints, DE — $9.553MM

15. Kolton Miller, Raiders, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

16. Tremaine Edmunds, Bills, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

17. Derwin James, Chargers, S — $9.052MM (1x Pro Bowl)

18. Jaire Alexander, Packers, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

19. Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys, LB — $9.145MM

20. Frank Ragnow, Lions, C — $12.657MM (1x Pro Bowl)

21. Billy Price, Bengals, C — $10.413MM

22. Rashaan Evans, Titans, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

23. Isaiah Wynn, Patriots, OT — $10.413MM

24. D.J. Moore, Panthers, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

25. Hayden Hurst, Falcons, TE (Drafted by Ravens) — $5.428MM

26. Calvin Ridley, Falcons, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

27. Rashaad Penny, Seahawks, RB — $4.523MM

28., Steelers, S Terrell Edmunds — $6.753MM (playing time)

29. Taven Bryan, Jaguars, DT — $7.638MM

30. Mike Hughes, Vikings, CB — $12.643MM

31. Sony Michel, Patriots, RB — $4.523MM

32. Lamar Jackson, Ravens, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

* Rosen was released from his original contract and, therefore, is not option-eligible 

As a refresher, the fifth-year option year is now fully guaranteed. In the past, it was guaranteed for injury only. The values are also dependent on certain performance metrics:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • One-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.

No Talks Between Ravens, Lamar Jackson?

The Ravens are said to be far apart in extension talks with Lamar Jackson. According to a source who spoke with Mike Florio of PFT, those discussions haven’t actually started yet. 

[RELATED: Ravens, Jackson Far Apart?]

Often times, conflicting reports like these are a matter of semantics. Do broader conversations about years/dollars qualify as negotiations? That depends on who you ask. But, as Florio notes, Jackson does not have an agent, so it’s hard to imagine that the Ravens have gotten especially deep in talks.

As it stands, Jackson is set to make just $1.77MM this year. In 2022, per the new collective bargaining agreement, his fifth-year option will be equivalent to the quarterback transition tender for 2021. Jackson triggered that by making a Pro Bowl. The QB transition tender was worth $21.75MM last year. This year, after the cap reduction, it should still fall somewhere near $20MM.

The higher value of the fifth-year option gives Jackson some additional leverage. It’s likely that he’ll seek a deal in the range of Deshaun Watson‘s four-year, $156MM extension. Watson’s pact gave him a $39MM average annual value and included a healthy $73MM guaranteed at signing. But, as of this writing, it sounds like the two sides have yet to truly engage.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens, Jackson Far Apart On Extension?

John Harbaugh said the Ravens will explore an extension with Lamar Jackson either this year or next. It looks like the sides are already talking.

The Ravens and their MVP quarterback have begun discussing a new deal, but Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes the sides are far apart at this juncture. Jackson, who became extension-eligible in January, is due just a $1.77MM base salary in 2021. The Ravens will surely pick up his fifth-year option by May, locking him down through 2022.

Since taking the reins of Baltimore’s offense midway through his rookie season, Jackson has played the centerpiece role in the team’s ascent in that time. The Ravens missed the playoffs from 2015-17, and while they have assembled high-end defenses during Jackson’s years, his historically elite rushing talents and improvement as a passer have re-established the team as an AFC power. Some factors could work against a Jackson deal being done soon, though.

While it would make sense for Jackson to secure an extension ahead of making that low-end base salary this season, a few recent quarterback re-ups have gone quite poorly. Carson Wentz and Jared Goff both regressed after signing big-ticket extensions ahead of their fourth seasons. They are now on other teams, with the trades forcing the Eagles and Rams to eat record-setting dead-money sums. A clear Jackson peer, Deshaun Watson has requested a trade less than six months after signing a $39MM-per-year Texans extension. That development figures to at least give teams pause. On the other end of this, the Cowboys’ near-two-year run of negotiations with Dak Prescott has driven up the QB’s price immensely.

Watson’s deal would make sense as a floor for Jackson, even though the former has shown far more as a passer to this point. The imminent salary cap reduction has long been expected to be a one-year blip, and the anticipated run of TV deals should do plenty to boost the 2022-and-beyond caps. Jackson and Josh Allen stand to benefit. And the Bills’ talks with their quarterback, expected this year, will pertain to Jackson. Allen has not offered as much consistency as Jackson, though the Buffalo passer rocketed onto his 2018 draft classmate’s level with a dominant 2020 season. Both QBs entering their fourth seasons will tie together their respective negotiations.

The Ravens have already extended two other cornerstone players — Ronnie Stanley and Marlon Humphrey — but they have a key issue at edge rusher to navigate soon. Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue are free agents; so are two key backups. Baltimore also has an extra year to negotiate with Jackson; the team does not have that luxury with Mark Andrews, a third-round pick entering a contract year. Jackson, though, represents this puzzle’s biggest piece. His talks with the Ravens will be a key NFL matter in the coming weeks/months.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

John Harbaugh On Roman, Jackson, WRs

John Harbaugh shut down the prospect of the Ravens revamping their offense on Wednesday. Greg Roman will be back for a third season as Baltimore’s offensive coordinator, Harbaugh said (via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic).

Roman garnered interest for HC positions last year, following Lamar Jackson‘s unanimous MVP season. But Jackson’s less dominant 2020, and another Ravens playoff game involving offensive struggles, has lowered Roman’s stock. No teams reached out to him about a head coaching position this year. Nevertheless, the veteran assistant will be the team’s OC for the 2021 season. Harbaugh does not expect changes to his offensive staff, Zrebiec adds, though the Lions have interviewed QBs coach James Urban for their OC job.

The 13-year Ravens HC also said the team will extend Jackson either this year or in the 2022 offseason. Although Jackson experienced inconsistency this season, he remains in line for a monster extension.

With the Bills set to explore a Josh Allen re-up this year, Jackson would stand to benefit. The prospect of the salary cap returning to its usual growth in 2022 would increase Jackson’s earning potential as well. The Ravens will pick up Jackson’s fully guaranteed fifth-year option by May, extending his rookie contract through 2022.

The Ravens, however, are coming off another disappointing playoff loss that featured its run-centric offense unable to keep pace. (Though, Jackson’s concussion obviously affected the Ravens’ ability to do so.) The team features one of the NFL’s lowest-profile receiving corps, and although the upcoming free agency market could well include several high-end wideouts, the Ravens are not in a strong position to convince one to join their unique offense.

Still, Harbaugh said the team could target a possession-type receiver to play alongside Marquise Brown.

I think a big, physical receiver would be awesome for us. We can use anybody who is talented and good,” Harbaugh said. “… I’m not going to beg anybody to be here. I’m not a college coach and I don’t have to recruit anybody. If you want to win, if you want to be part of a great organization and you want to be part of a team, you want to love coming to work every single day and you love football, playing in the AFC North, come here.

If you don’t, if you’re all worried about stats and numbers and your stat line and how many balls you catch necessarily and that’s all you care for, then there’s a lot of other teams you can play for and we’re looking forward to lining up against you.”

Brown led the Ravens in receiving, with 769 yards, this season. The team has featured just one receiver (Brown) surpass 500 yards in each of the past two seasons. Willie Snead is not under contract for the ’21 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.