Lamar Jackson’s contract talks have been aided greatly by the stuttering Baltimore Ravens offense of late. Over the last three games, the Ravens have managed just two touchdowns.
Baltimore’s embarrassing 13-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns puts their playoff hopes in danger. They currently sit at 9-5, with the Cincinnati Bengals looking set to clinch the AFC North.
One of the main reasons that the team has struggled is the absence of their star quarterback. Jackson was playing MVP-level football until a PCL injury ruled him out for a few weeks. He is set to return before the end of the regular season. In Jackson’s absence, the team has rolled with Tyler Huntley as their starting quarterback. He has been serviceable but has yet to throw a touchdown pass in his three starts.
With the Ravens offense struggling, Jackson’s contract talks are undoubtedly boosted. It has been clear that Greg Roman’s offense has needed their star quarterback to lift them. His absence has been detrimental to the team.
The Ravens HAVE BEEN SPOILED by Lamar Jackson and have to find out who they are without him. The Defense and running game have to keep SHOWING UP down the stretch to carry them to victories. Then when Lamar gets back they can go on the SUPER BOWL RUN they are capable of.
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) December 13, 2022
The Ravens and Lamar Jackson agreed not to discuss the contract matter after the start of the regular season. It had been a matter that plagued the Ravens off-season but both parties agreed to put discussions on hold to focus on football. Jackson’s injury has only proved how important he is to Baltimore’s success, however, and Eric DeCosta will surely be taking notes
Lamar Jackson Contract Set to Rise Thanks to Terrible Offense
Jackson’s injury a few weeks ago was concerning for Baltimore. He has had his struggles this season but, early on, had been playing at an MVP level.
On the season so far, Jackson has 2,242 passing yards and 17 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 764 yards and three touchdowns. What makes these numbers even more impressive is how dysfunctional the Ravens offense is without him.
The running back room has been largely inconsistent this year. Kenyan Drake and Gus Edwards both flashed in J.K. Dobbins’ absence. Since Dobbins’ return, there has been more consistency. But generally, the run game has been quite hit or miss. Jackson has been the team’s most potent rushing threat.
The receiving corps in Baltimore is among the league’s worst. Rashod Bateman, the team’s top receiver, was ruled out of the rest of the season with surgery. Behind him, the Ravens have relied on Devin Duvernay and DeMarcus Robinson, which is hardly a deadly duo. The team’s signing of DeSean Jackson was conciliatory rather than game-breaking.
The team likes to rely on their deep tight end room, but Mark Andrews has been underwhelming. Despite being poised for a big season, Andrews has seen some bad drops. One silver lining has been rookie Isaiah Likely, but he cannot be expected to be a consistent option.
Amidst a lack of receiving talent, a more fundamental issue laid with coaching. Roman has been under heavy fire this season. While his run schemes are generally reliable, his passing playbook has been described as uncreative, bland and nonsensical by many.
Over the last two games, the Ravens have mustered just 220 passing yards. Jackson managed 254 passing yards in his last full healthy game. There is no doubt that Baltimore’s offensive struggles have aided Jackson’s contract talks.
"If I'm Lamar, I'm not going back out there because the price goes up every game he doesn't play. It's obvious."
Baltimore's futile offensive performance further illustrates @Lj_era8's value to the #Ravens
🎙 Samari Rolle pic.twitter.com/40SSXkjDDu
— The 33rd Team (@The33rdTeamFB) December 18, 2022
Jackson’s Contract Situation
The Ravens’ previous off-season was marred by discussions around Jackson’s contract. Having been drafted in 2018, he is eligible for a contract in the upcoming off-season.
It was previously stated that Jackson expected to be in Baltimore for the rest of his career. However, it was revealed earlier this season that the 2019 MVP is ‘not happy’ with the front office.
It is rumored that the Ravens offered Jackson an extension worth around $250 million. This was more than both Russell Wilson’s and Kyler Murray’s extensions. However, it seems that Jackson was unhappy with just $133 million being guaranteed. For the sake of contract security, Jackson is not compromising over his contract being fully guaranteed.
This was a recent innovation by the Browns. They paid their new quarterback DeShaun Watson a fully-guaranteed contract amid the lawsuit issues. It is believed that Jackson wants something similar, though perhaps with greater value given his previous MVP award.
The talks had seemingly reached a stalemate with neither party budging on the amount of guaranteed money. However, with the recent Ravens struggles illuminating the importance of their star quarterback, DeCosta may have a different take on Jackson’s contract talks.
As with all disputes, there is still reason to be cautious, however. Some of Jackson’s critics would argue that his availability remains a concern. His latest injuries are simply testament to that. The PCL injury joins a long list of ailments that Jackson has suffered from this season. He injured his elbow early on and has also tweaked his quad and hip. Thus, Jackson is not worth a big contract if he cannot stay healthy.
The other argument could be that the Ravens have a long list of free agents coming up. They acquired Roquan Smith via trade earlier in the season, and his recent performances warrant a long extension. Thus, with star players like Smith, Marcus Peters and Calais Campbell hitting free agency, the Ravens need to prioritise.
Former #Bears LB Roquan Smith has a sack in this game for the #Ravens already and now picks off Mitch Trubisky.pic.twitter.com/aqcsXiRYTB
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 11, 2022
One way to manage this would be to franchise tag Jackson and use the rest of the cap space on their free agents. This would delay Jackson’s contract talks for another season.
There is also a more fundamental argument that the Ravens had struggled offensively even before Jackson’s injuries. The offense had a nasty habit of struggling when leading, allowing for other teams to mount comebacks. So some Jackson critics could even question whether Jackson solves all of the offense’s problems at all or whether he only alleviates them.