Lamar Jackson won’t sign a new deal until the Baltimore Ravens fully guarantee his next contract or so the story goes. The Ravens haven’t guaranteed enough years, but one of Jackson’s former teammates thinks the franchise quarterback deserves everything he wants.
Orlando Brown Jr., who reached two Pro Bowls as Jackson’s blindside protector, told ESPN’s NFL Live he understands “why he wants a fully guaranteed contract. I understand, you know, why he deserves that as well.”
Brown was speaking on air shortly before he signed a four-year, $64.092 million deal with the Cincinnati Bengals. The contract also included a signing bonus of more than $31 million, the “largest ever for an o-lineman,” according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
It means Brown is back in the AFC North, where he once helped Jackson become a star. Now, it’s Jackson waiting on an unprecedented deal or facing the prospect of playing on the non-exclusive franchise tag.
Ex-Ravens Star Gives Decisive Lamar Jackson Verdict
Brown didn’t pull any punches when he said Jackson will be “one of the best players on the field every single time he touches the field.” Combine that statement with Brown also saying negotiations with star quarterbacks can often be “overthought” within NFL circles, and the message is clear: The Ravens should stop delaying and pay Jackson what he wants.
It’s the the most straightforward answer to a situation that is anything but straightforward. Jackson’s perhaps the most dynamic player at his position in the league, but he’s also somebody who has missed 11 games the past two seasons with various injuries.
Given how Jackson’s dual-threat style leads him into more contact than most starting QBs, further injuries wouldn’t be a surprise. So it makes sense for the Ravens to hesitate over rubber-stamping every year and every dollar committed to Jackson’s next deal.
Injuries aren’t the only issue, with Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd identifying Jackson’s mother acting as his agent as “unorthodox” and “some teams don’t want to deal with that.”
Cowherd also believes Jackson has “become kind of a noisy player. Is he mad? Is he sulking? Nobody really knows.” The reference to Jackson being “noisy” relates to tweets posted by the quarterback in response to reports about offers from the Ravens he’s thought to have rejected.
In one particular instance, Jackson retweeted a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, cited by SB Nation’s Baltimore Beatdown, describing how the QB1 turned down a contract that would’ve paid him as much as $200 million in guaranteed cash.
While some teams may be put off by Jackson taking things public, his social media activity does prove one thing. Namely, there’s a significant disconnect between the Ravens and their best player.
Ravens Should Listen to Former Pro-Bowler
General manager Eric DeCosta and owner Steve Bisciotti still have enough incentive to strike a deal with Jackson. Notably, the fact the Ravens have gone 2-11 without him the last two seasons and blown back-to-back playoff opportunities.
These Ravens will only go as far as Jackson can take them, but there’s still a reluctance to match the type of contract the Cleveland Browns handed to Deshaun Watson last offseason. The Browns guaranteed every penny of the $230 million agreed in the terms.
Perhaps the Ravens need to ignore what Watson got and simply focus on what they have in Jackson. Or rather, maybe DeCosta should simply listen to former Pro-Bowler Brown Jr.
He knows the value of a star quarterback having helped protect Patrick Mahomes en route to the Kansas City Chiefs winning Super Bowl LVII last season. Now, Brown gets to look after Joe Burrow, who has already passed the Bengals to an appearance in the Super Bowl following the 2021 season.
Top-tier quarterbacks usually deliver championships in the NFL, and Jackson belongs within the upper echelon of signal-callers. If the Ravens don’t acknowledge his status, eventually another team surely will.