Window opens for Ravens’ Lamar Jackson to contact other teams

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The first link in Lamar Jackson’s social media biography is an email address for “business inquiries.” It’s been there for years, but at 4:00 pm ET Wednesday, the investigation into Jackson’s business will take an intriguing turn.

That’s when the Baltimore Ravens quarterback can start talking to other teams. It’s unprecedented territory because Jackson, 26, is the first NFL under-30 MVP quarterback to receive a non-exclusive franchise label that pays him $32.416 million for a single season and allows him to participate in contract negotiations with the rest of the league. . If he accepted the offer, the Ravens would have five days to play or receive two first-round picks in compensation.

The Ravens chose this option over an exclusive tag set at $45 million, which would have prevented Jackson from talking to other teams and would have allowed Baltimore to control the terms of the trade.

What makes the situation even more unique is that Jackson does not have an agent. Instead, Jackson relied on a close inner circle of family and advisors, as well as the NFL Players Association.

It is this dynamic that makes Jackson’s future difficult to predict. While other teams have been busy making free-agent quarterback deals in the last two days or a capital swap that would result in a quarterback selection, Jackson had to wait to find out his market value.

Some agents and former general managers believe that because Jackson did not have an agent, too much is being done, and that it may even have worked in his favor. But others believe that the lack of representation will make a complex process even more difficult and may cause teams to falter.

“I tried to put myself in the shoes of the CEO, who might have an interest. What should I do now? Should I call Lamar myself?” said Randy Mueller, a former NFL general manager who is now director of personnel for the XFL’s Seattle Sea Dragons. “It’s definitely unorthodox. That doesn’t mean it can’t be, but it definitely complicates things.”

While Jackson doesn’t have an agent, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have help.

“We can give him the same help we can for any certified agent,” an NFLPA source said. “We can review the contract and review it. We can tell him if the deal sounds good or if it’s market value for a player like him.”

“If he has any questions along the way, he can come to us and we can discuss them with him.”

But the NFLPA has its limits.

“[Teams] can call his mother, who deals with many of these issues. Or they can also call him directly,” the NFLPA source said. “We cannot speak directly to the teams and negotiate directly on his behalf. We can’t go back and forth with teams.”

The two agents, both of whom have negotiated deals with NFL defensemen, believe Jackson is already one step behind. If Jackson had an agent, they said, his representative could be his attorney at the NFL reunion earlier this month and talk to teams about their interest in shaping his market.

“He has gone so far as to not go back on his word,” one of the agents said. “It takes a lot of humility to say, ‘I tried, it didn’t work, now I’m going to hire an agent and get the best deal I can.’

Jackson’s list of promising teams was down before he even called. The Carolina Panthers traded for the #1 overall quarterback. The Miami Dolphins expressed their confidence in Tua Tagovailoa by exercising his fifth-year option. The Las Vegas Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo to a three-year, $67.5 million contract.

Other teams, however, appear to be potential suitors such as the Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans and Washington Commanders.

The agent suggested that Jackson select several teams and contact them immediately to see if they were willing to give up two first-round picks for him. Then work begins to develop a contract that the Ravens will not want to fulfill.

Last September a source told Sportzshala’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen. that Jackson turned down Baltimore’s offer, which included $133 million guaranteed at signing, $175 million in injury guarantees, and $200 million in general guarantees if he was in the league’s Day 5, 2026 roster. $200 million would be second among all quarterbacks behind Deshawn Watson (five years, $230 million guaranteed) and surpass deals signed by Kyler Murray ($103.3 million guaranteed at sign) and Russell Wilson ($124 million guaranteed at sign) in the past year. Schefter and Mortensen reported in September that Jackson wanted a fully guaranteed deal similar to Watson’s.

Jackson seemingly disproves the $200 million guarantee report. on social media on Tuesday.

“I think it’s doable for Lamar, but to be honest, I don’t think it’s doable if he’s just waiting for a phone call,” one of the agents said.

Jackson is not the first high profile NFL player to deal with teams without an agent. Over the past six years, Richard Sherman, DeAndre Hopkins, Bobby Wagner and Russell Okung have represented themselves in the free agent realm.

Even Jackson’s teammate, middle linebacker Roquan Smith, agreed to a five-year, $100 million extension with the Ravens in January without an agent. Smith’s deal, which includes a yearly average of all inside linebackers ($20 million), a signing bonus ($22.5 million) and general guarantees ($60 million), was completed in six days within a month.

“Everyone has their own opinion on how they think things should work, but I don’t think any of the players know who’s really involved,” Smith said. “I think nowadays players want to be at the table with 100% transparency. If you respect the person you’re talking to and you have help from your advisors, there’s nothing you can do.”

The difference between Jackson and other players is that Jackson is dealing with a franchise tag that comes with the added hurdles of draft compensation and Baltimore’s ability to match. The tag came after the parties failed to get closer to a deal after 25 months of negotiations. Ravens officials acknowledged that it was difficult at times to contact and negotiate with Jackson.

After Baltimore placed the franchise on Jackson on March 7, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said he would continue to work on a long-term deal with the quarterback.

“Our ultimate goal is to build a championship team that Lamar Jackson will lead for many years to come,” DeCosta said in a statement.

The threat that the Ravens will accept any offer could dissuade the teams from pursuing Jackson. If Jackson signed the offer sheet and Baltimore matched it, the other team was essentially negotiating with the Ravens for them.

“It was genius of Baltimore to label it a low-franchise and say, ‘Go figure out your market and come back to us. We will pay,” one of the agents said.

If Jackson finds a team willing to give up two first-round picks for him, chances are Jackson and his inner circle will have to work out a contract that Baltimore will be hard to match. One of the agents suggested that a $75 million record signing bonus might have to be included in order to break Jackson out of the Ravens.

Jackson hasn’t spoken publicly about his contract situation since the first week of the 2022 season, so it’s been hard to know what the quarterback wants. It’s unknown if Jackson is looking to move elsewhere due to the Ravens contract impasse, or if he’d be happy to return to Baltimore if he doesn’t get a better deal elsewhere. A recent video in Jackson’s Instagram story showed him wearing a gold Ravens chain and his team’s hoodie, sparking optimism among fans.

Joe Banner, who was manager of the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns, is not among those who criticize Jackson for not having an agent.

“I really think that’s an exaggeration, and I really think it’s served him well so far,” said Banner, who is a contributor to the NFL news website The 33rd Team.

Had Jackson had an agent, he may have been swayed to sign the deal when he became eligible for a contract extension in January 2021. As Jackson waited, the maximum annual earnings for a quarterback increased by $5 million (from $45 million to $50). million), and four quarterbacks have signed deals that total more than $150 million in guaranteed money.

Mueller, who was the CEO of the Saints and Dolphins, said he didn’t want to deal with a player who didn’t have an agent.

“It’s going to be on my mind for sure because it’s a long, hard, hard road to a deal,” Mueller said. “I would do whatever the team and the player want, but it’s just a lot of bridges that you have to cross that you normally wouldn’t do in a really hectic time for the decision makers.”

Since becoming the Ravens’ starting quarterback midway through the 2018 season, Jackson has posted the second-best record (45-16, .738 win percentage) among active quarterbacks behind Patrick Mahomes, as well as the third best total QBR (64.8).

But Jackson has been unable to finish the past two seasons with injuries, missing a total of 11 games in 2021 and 2022, including a playoff loss to Cincinnati.

“Do you want a player? Do you believe he will stay healthy? Are you ready to agree to the terms he has made a priority?” Banner said. “You should be able to say yes to all of these questions, not just some of his questions, or you should just find some other solution to your quarterback problem.”

Sportzshala Colts reporter Stephen Holder and Bears reporter Courtney Cronin contributed to this article.


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