It doesn’t even take a full NFL season for fortune to change. Before the 2022 season, when I highlighted the people in the league who won or lost the most, I thought we would have to wait 18 weeks to get answers.
Instead, some stories are finished while others are on the last pages. Panthers coach Matt Rule was fired from that list. Jets forward Mekhi Becton has been injured and will miss the entire season. Raiders coach Josh McDaniels’ team missed the playoffs, and Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst’s team is on its last legs after five straight losses.
There were also positive moments. Dolphins passer Tua Tagovailoa and Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts are in the middle of their careers. Giants signaler Daniel Jones was competent for the Giants 6-2. Seattle coach Pete Carroll’s recovery ended before it even started, and the Seahawks are 2.5 games ahead of the rest for first place in the NFC West.
Let’s take a look at the players and managers (plus one manager) who have the most to win or lose in the second half of the season. Of course, we will contact some of them before the start of the season, but there are many new candidates who have money, future opportunities or some element of their legacy depending on what happens over the next three months of football.
We’ll start again with the biggest bettor in football and work our way through the other 33 on the list, sorted by job title, and ending with coaches and executives:
Go to position:
QB | RB | BP | TE
PR | DL | pound | DB
Vacancies: Trainer | grandmaster
Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens
While everyone in the Ravens organization is publicly taking the stance that a contract renewal for the 2019 MVP is imminent, Jackson’s short-term and long-term future is still in question. He’s playing his fifth-year option for $23 million this season, a rarity for first-round quarterbacks with such a resume. Such good players almost always sign an extension before the 5th year.
Of course, Jackson wants something that few players can afford, no matter how good they are: a fully guaranteed mega deal. Given that Deshawn Watson was given five years and $230 million by the Browns in March, Jackson could very well be asking Baltimore for five years and about $250 million. If he leads the Ravens to a deep playoff streak, it will be hard to deny him such an expansion.
Without such a performance, The Ravens would likely have ended up labeling Jackson as a franchise-exclusive, which is expected to be about $45.4 million. Of course, this is not a trifle, but between these figures the difference in guarantees is more than $ 200 million. He could make a difference with a new contract in 2024 and beyond, but any player is one injury away from not fulfilling his future earnings potential.
Should Jackson run into trouble, the Ravens may consider launching a final trial balloon for his market. Putting a non-exclusive franchise tag on him would have been a bit cheaper, but it would have allowed other teams to sign him on the proposal sheet. Baltimore will receive two first round picks if they waive the match. Is there a universe where the team could get away from him? And if so, can Jackson stay with the DMV and move from all teams to Commanders? Probably not, but if the Ravens don’t make a deal this offseason, the clock for his future in Baltimore will be ticking.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Dolphins