Where now with Lamar Jackson? That’s going to be one of the dominant story lines of the offseason. The Ravens have been unable to agree with him on a long-term contract, and it doesn’t look like an impasse that will be broken anytime soon.
Jackson is a free agent, and he’s been looking for a long-term fully guaranteed contract. He’s had a better career thus far than Deshaun Watson, and Watson (with considerable off-field baggage) signed a five-year contract worth $230 million – fully guaranteed.
The Ravens (and other teams) are maintaining that Watson’s contract was an outlier, created by the special situation of the Texans allowing him to create an auction between multiple teams. Jackson is different in that the Ravens can use the franchise tag to stop him from reaching true free agency.
At Jackson’s disposal is the ability to withhold services. Absent a long-term deal, he could decline to attend offseason workouts and even training camp (in theory, showing up to sign a one-year franchise tender a week before the beginning of the season). It’s reasonable to wonder if Jackson, with a long-term contract, would have been more willing to try to play hurt in Sunday’s loss at Cincinnati.
The Ravens, meanwhile, might be reluctant to commit too much guaranteed money to a quarterback who takes a lot of punishment with his playing style. Jackson is only 25, but he’s missed 4 and 6 games the last two seasons. Baltimore might reasonably be wondering what kind of players and picks they might be able to get in return if they were to trade him.
But we’ve seen the Ravens without Jackson, and it hasn’t been pretty. He’s 45-16 as a starter. Since they moved him into the starting lineup, they’ve gone only 4-9 with others at quarterback. In those 13 games, those other quarterbacks have averaged only 168 passing yards, with 8 TDs and 12 interceptions.
|RAVENS WITHOUT LAMAR JACKSON|
|2018||Flacco||at Cin.||L 23-34||32||55||376||2||2||3-8-0|
|2018||Flacco||at Pitt.||W 26-14||28||42||363||2||0||2-(-3)-0|
|2018||Flacco||at Cle.||L 9-12||29||56||298||0||1||2-13-0|
|2018||Flacco||at Ten.||W 21-0||25||37||238||1||1||3-4-0|
|2018||Flacco||at Car.||L 21-36||22||39||192||1||2||2-14-0|
|2020||Griffin||at Pitt.||L 14-19||7||12||33||0||1||7-68-0|
|2021||Huntley||at Chi.||W 16-13||26||36||219||0||1||7-40-0|
|2021||J.Johnson||at Cin.||L 21-41||28||40||304||2||1||5-10-0|
|2022||Huntley||at Pitt.||W 16-14||8||12||88||0||0||9-31-0|
|2022||Huntley||at Cle.||L 3-13||17||30||138||0||1||6-15-0|
|2022||A.Brown||at Cin.||L 16-27||19||44||286||0||2||0-0-0|
|2022||Huntley||at Cin.||L 17-24||17||29||226||2||1||9-54-0|