Lamar JacksonPhoto: Getty Images
Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens have spent most of the 2022 season and have yet to agree on a contract extension. We knew this would be the case early in the season, but now we’re going to find out where the worst-case allegiances lie. Jackson suffered a knee injury during Baltimore’s Week 13 win over Denver. He left that game in the first quarter, and since then that Ravens offense stuttered along, falling from first place, albeit temporarily, in the AFC North.
Jackson’s dynamic qualities are even more apparent when he’s not shooting for Baltimore. With Jackson on the field, the Ravens’ offense ranks in the top third of teams in the entire league. When he’s out, they’re in the bottom third of the teams. Sure, that’s one of the most obvious stats out there, but that still won’t be enough proof for Baltimore to pay the man.
We see it again and again in negotiations between players and teams. Anything that can be used against that player to lower their value will be used against them. It’s like the unspoken Miranda rights in NFL contracts: anything you say (or do) can and will be used against you in those negotiations.
Jackson will address that once he and the Ravens return to the table to work on a new deal during the offseason. His late-season injury becomes a point of contention because he missed a lot of time. Missing a game is considered too much in the NFL, and Jackson has already been inactive for two consecutive games and missed nearly a third.
Baltimore is 1-1 since Jackson left the lineup and won the game in which he was injured. Most of that credit goes to the defense that held them up in games and did whatever it took to achieve victories. On Saturday against division rivals Cleveland, the Baltimore defense held the Browns to 13 points. Unfortunately, the Ravens offense only managed three points in this game.
After a performance like this, Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti should rush to renew the former league MVP and keep him in the franchise for as long as possible. But it’s not going to happen that easily because it would have already happened if that were the case. Jackson wants a fully guaranteed contract, and that’s where the Ravens reportedly drew the line. And now, with Jackson’s latest injury, the likelihood of getting the deal he wants in Baltimore seems less feasible with every day he’s out.
Jackson missed five games last season with an injury, and now he’s missed two in a row and is likely to miss a third. The Ravens are in a battle for the AFC North lead with the Bengals that could lead to the last game of the year in Week 18 in Cincinnati. Luckily for Baltimore, they’ve already picked up a win against Cincy this year, but if they can’t keep up over the next few weeks, it could be the difference between winning a home playoff game or heading to the road for goals.
Ravens management say they know what they have in Lamar, as they always praise him publicly, especially when head coach John Harbaugh is on the podium. But you show what he really means by paying him what he’s worth. If he thinks he’s guaranteed to be worth more than $200 million, then that’s what it takes.
There’s only one real question the Ravens need to ask themselves as they come to terms with this affair. Who is equal or better than Jackson available on the market? The answer to that is nobody. You’d better believe that if Jackson ever hit the open market in his prime, 20 teams would line up to land the plucky playmaker.