Here’s why some NFL players are lobbing accusations of collusion over Lamar Jackson

A year ago this week, two grand juries in Texas refused to bring any charges against Deshawn Watson related to several women who alleged that Watson sexually assaulted or harassed while trying to massage the then-Houston Texans defenseman.

Once Watson was out of business, several teams — the Carolina Panthers, the Atlanta Falcons, and the New Orleans Saints — jumped at the chance to trade and sign Watson, who was 28 and out of season at the time. -25 starting Texans with one playoff win.

The Cleveland Browns outclassed everyone else by signing Watson to a five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million contract and sending Houston three first-round picks.

And yet, 12 months later, two of the three teams that hotly pursued Watson and still don’t have a long-term quarterback are telling reporters, including Sportzshala! Athlete Jori Epstein that they are not aware of Lamar Jackson. This came just hours after the Baltimore Ravens posted a non-exclusive franchise tag on QB, allowing any other team to make an offer and potentially sign him if the Ravens didn’t match up.

Jackson was the second unanimous MVP in NFL history when he was 23 years old. His Ravens have won 45 of the 61 he started his career with. He celebrated his 26th birthday eight weeks ago and is by all accounts a pillar of his neighborhood in South Florida and Baltimore. He can be purchased for two first-round picks rather than three as Houston demanded, and more than two dozen women have not accused him of misconduct. However… he doesn’t attract those desperate QB teams, but Watson was?


You will forgive us if we do not believe them.

December 4, 2022;  Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) stands on the field during the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Will Lamar Jackson play for the Ravens in 2023? (Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports)

Current and former players also feel that something is wrong. Jay Jay Watt, Robert Griffin III, Tyranne Mathieu, Jaquan Brisker And Couandre Diggs was among those who raised suspicion with reports that teams that should want a quarterback don’t want Jackson, with Diggs explicitly using the word “collusion” in his tweet and Mathieu saying that anyone doubts Jackson’s abilities. did not have play defensively against him.

You’ll understand if we also smell a little collusion in the air, the stench wafts over it all like a freshly baked rottweiler being sprayed by a skunk (don’t ask me how I know that).

Shortly after the details of Watson’s mega-deal were revealed last March, Ravens team owner Steve Bisciotti made a recording to express his displeasure with her and that she negotiate it’s harder with other quarterbacks.

Bisciotti and the Ravens could have signed Jackson to a 2021 extension, after his third season. This was long before the Browns signed Watson, so part of the reason he’s in this mess right now – assuming he doesn’t want to – is his own fault. Also, the price of players, especially quarterbacks, never goes down. Fellow 2018 first-round draft pick Josh Allen signed the Buffalo Bills to a six-year extension in 2021 that includes $150 million guaranteed money and a $258 million cap. Jackson and Baltimore could have done something like that and didn’t, and now the price has only gone up.

Jackson has been injured in each of his last two seasons. It’s also worth noting that the Ravens were in the league’s top third in games lost due to injury in 2022 and have conceded third in the league since 2009, and in an NFL Players Association poll, Baltimore players rated the strength of coach Steve Saunders at F-minusby far the worst in the league. It’s most likely no coincidence that Saunders was fired last month.

(We’ll pause here to reiterate that while Jackson represents himself, that’s great, but the time for him to get an agent or even a lawyer to fight the team’s superiors at the negotiating table is long past. .)

Bisciotti and other team owners are apparently still unhappy that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam broke ranks to secure a deal with Watson. This is not now, and never has been and never will be Lamar Jackson’s problem.

If he told Bisciotti and GM Eric DeCosta that as the league’s MVP, more talented than Watson with no baggage, he deserves the same deal, if not a little better, he’s 100% right.

If the owner class isn’t happy with Haslam, don’t invite him to some ridiculous Michelin-starred yacht party they have planned for April and stop taking it out on Jackson and the other players.

Of course, all of this is to be expected: the text has been hanging on the wall for a long time, but if last week’s revealing NFLPA Player Poll showed us anything, it’s that a fair number of these team owners don’t really care about winning. at least not on the field. They care about their own wealth, period.

There is nothing in the collective agreement to say that every contract cannot be fully guaranteed. The team owners just refuse to do it and seem to do everything they can to keep it from becoming the norm. There is also nothing stopping them from repealing the current rule that requires teams to transfer all guaranteed money under the contract in cash to an escrow account (although structure Kansas City Chiefs’ contract with Patrick Mahomes shows that this can be worked around). They won’t stop this practice because it will open the door for franchise owners who are cashier poorer to get more deals like the one Watson got.

And one that Jackson deserves.


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