OWINGS MILLS, Md. – After Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott signed his record-breaking four-year $ 160 million contract in early March, the next quarterback for a blockbuster expansion became Baltimore Ravens' Lamar Jackson.
At the start of his fourth NFL season, Jackson is eligible for a new contract for the first time and has earned a $ 1.771 million increase in this year's base salary, which ranks 24th among all quarterbacks.
Jackson is easily the most electrifying player in the game with the ball in hand, a highlight waiting for him every time he sprints in the open field. He has made strides both as a passer and in the postseason, but no one can deny that he has won more games (30) than any other quarterback since starting the Ravens in mid-2018 and taking the highest-scoring offensive in the league has led the season for the past two years.
Just like Jackson's skills, the Ravens' negotiation with the former NFL MVP is developing into an equally unique one. His running style and the lack of an agent represent uncharted territory in the quarterback contract landscape.
Lamar Jackson is facing a huge expansion, but how big? Three NFL experts discuss. David Eulitt / Getty Images
Last month, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said he had one-on-one discussions with Jackson over the scope of a long-term contract but indicated that formal negotiations had not yet begun. Raven manager John Harbaugh recently said he was "absolutely certain" that Jackson's extra time will happen this year or next.
NFL network analyst Kurt Warner (former league MVP), CBS sports analyst Joel Corry (former sports agent), and ESPN NFL front office insider Mike Tannenbaum (former NFL general manager) all have Jackson-related issues imminent enlargement resolved. addressed the frequently asked questions:
Should the Ravens be concerned about giving a potential record-signing bonus to a quarterback who runs more than anyone else in NFL history?
Warner: The first reaction will always be yes. Any time someone puts themselves more in danger than anyone else there is a higher risk of signing this guy. The other part I'm going to say is Lamar, who is so unique and different that you can't just say, "Oh, he's another running quarterback." Because that's not Lamar. Lamar is a differentiator. He's different when he's running and he avoids so many hits. But does he get hit more than most quarterbacks? Yes, he sure does. He sits in these places because they act aggressively. You are unlikely to be giving Lamar Jackson a 10 year contract like Patrick Mahomes because you don't know what the wear and tear is.
Corry: As much as I would like the cost certainty of a long-term contract signed by Patrick Mahomes, I would be reluctant to go this route with Lamar just because we've seen over time that ongoing quarterbacks don't last if they continue run, especially at the speed that Lamar has. What I expected with Lamar is that he will continue to develop as a passerby. By the late twenties it won't run as much as it used to and it will become more of a traditional business. It will be like the four-year renewals that Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Deshaun Watson signed.
Fir tree: Well it's a good problem because he's a dynamic player. There would certainly be a lot of teams out there that would like to have this problem. The ball will be in his hands a lot more than others, so you're a little worried. On the other hand, one thing he does well is that he is really good at making people miss. If you think about the history of the game – Tony Dorsett, Curtis Martin, those kind of runners – they have sustainability because they don't get hit and they get the big shot.
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Should Jackson wait for Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield to sign their renewals (so he can surpass theirs) or does that matter?
Warner: For me, as long as I get paid in this category and if I want to be a raven I'll sign the deal whenever they bring me the deal. I'm not worried about "Do I end up making $ 1 million more a year than Baker or Josh Allen?" It doesn't matter to me. All of these guys are paid so well that they will never have to worry about anything in their life again. Knowing Lamar, he's so humble. I think he will "I want to play with the ravens my whole career". You give me a first class deal and I'll take it and we'll play. I also believe that if you want to win, sometimes you need a little less, while you're still in the category you want to be in and you say, "Hey, give me a few more pieces around me, and leave win a couple of championships. "
Corry: In Lamar's case, there is a unique dynamic that no other quarterback does not have a traditional agent for. We have seen guys with no agents and with advisors doing high level business and they have done very well. But we've never had a deal on this scale without an agent. So I don't know if that would force Lamar to play it safe and wait for Josh Allen. But usually you have some agents taking the position that I'm going to let this guy solidify the market even more and try to skip it. And other (agent) characters, if I can get the deal I want, I'll go from there. I really don't know which direction Lamar would go because of the unknown variables. I am curious to see how this role develops.
Fir tree: If I am him, these guys interest me a little. But it's different because he was selected (the last selection in the first round). He doesn't really have life changing money (Jackson's rookie deal was four years, $ 9.5 million). Would you like to wait another six weeks and maybe get a little 2% or 3% more? Everyone will be different, but I think where they were selected would lead me to believe that these deals are not as relevant or effective as when they close their deal.
How big is the hurdle that Jackson has no agent for him and the ravens?
Warner: I have never explored this world (without an agent). I never wanted to come into this world. I never wanted to be the guy who was in this room. What you are realizing is organizations, as much as they love you, they will try to find those little holes that say, "You don't do this well, or you don't either." You need to be able to understand that it is negotiation and no love is lost when you come out of this room. It is a difficult thing. We pay 3% and say, "Please, you take care of all this junk." My perspective was, "I'm going to make the money and you can have 3% because I want you to take care of it and I don't even want to hear these things."
Corry: It's not like the rookie deal where you could have got the same deal as Tom Condon, Todd France or Drew Rosenhaus. This is an entirely different dynamic, so it can potentially lead to the ravens being able to take advantage of the situation. We saw Ronnie Stanley represented by Roc Nation. This deal came under what I had in mind. Laremy Tunsil, who happened to have no agent but had consultants, rolled the tackle market back to $ 22 million a year. I thought Stanley was at least over $ 20 million, but he came under $ 20 million a year, and then you saw David Bakhtiari skip both of them. So the ravens made tough business with an agent. Without an agent or advisor, they could get a deal that is potentially really beneficial.
Fir tree: In general, I didn't like dealing with a player because, to be honest, it didn't come out good. I like it from Lamar because he's such an authentic person that it somehow suits him. But if I am the ravens, who is he dealing with? Is it a lawyer? Is it a family member? So that's a very strange and interesting dynamic. Agents play an important role. You want that buffer. They just don't want things to be taken out of context.
Despite Jackson's gaudy stats, could his running style – and possible future propensity for injury – give the Ravens a break if they offer a Patrick Mahomes-esque addition? Bryan Woolston / Getty Images
Where does Jackson's contract ultimately go? Will it come close to Mahomes' NFL record of $ 45 million per season? Or will it fall closer to Watson ($ 39 million a year) or Prescott ($ 40 million)?
Warner: This business is so crazy. Sometimes it just turns out that the next guy gets the most money. Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in our business, and Patrick deserves to be the highest paid quarterback. Does that mean this will always be the case? I think Lamar should probably get right past DeShaun, but not where Patrick is. But we've seen many times that the highest paid player is nowhere near the best in the league in that position. So I'm not trying to gauge these things.
Corry: I don't think Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson beat Patrick Mahomes. The two most important data points for both are DeShaun Watson and Dak Prescott. I think the deal will be in that area. Maybe they go a little beyond Dak Prescott. But the only thing I would care about what happened to Lamar is that they (other quarterbacks) gave up another four years. The ravens wanted more than four new years. You have five new years with Ronnie Stanley so I wouldn't be surprised if you tried to get five new years with Lamar. Personally, if I am Lamar I want to try to go three (years) as we now know the TV money is solidified and hopefully the cap will go up.
Fir tree: I'd say around $ 40 million is probably the range. There could certainly be more about where the guarantees are, how the money is guaranteed, and we talked earlier about Lamar having no agent. The ravens will not be unfair, but they will also handle what is important to them. … you have to choose carefully who to pay and why. He's someone you're lucky enough to be and you need to keep him and realize, "Hey, we can't keep Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue and that's fine." You know why? Because they are interchangeable and Lamar is not. "