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Lamar Jackson Non-Exclusive Tag Was a Masterstroke

Lamar Jackson Non-Exclusive Tag Was a Masterstroke: Here's why applying the non-exclusive tag on Jackson is brilliant by Baltimore.
Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson receiving the non-exclusive tag was a masterstroke by Baltimore Ravens GM Eric DeCosta. After a year of negotiating a contract with Jackson, he and the team were unable to agree to terms. Throughout 2022, rumours swirled around Jackson’s long-term future with the talks seeming rather Cold War-esque. The negotiations erupted to a new height after Baltimore made the decision to place the non-exclusive tag on Jackson.

The main source of tension is believed to be the amount of guaranteed money that Jackson would receive. Deshaun Watson’s fully-guaranteed $250 million contract was the sort of offer that Jackson expected. However, Baltimore is reluctant. And no other teams have gone down the route of fully-guaranteed contracts too.

The non-exclusive tag means that other teams can negotiate a deal with Jackson. Should they agree to terms, the Ravens would have the opportunity to match the offer. If Jackson signs with another team, the tag means that Baltimore would receive two first-round picks.

The immediate reaction was that the Ravens were making a mistake. In placing the tag, it gives other teams the window to poach their MVP-caliber quarterback. And, should Jackson be poached, the compensation would only be two first-round picks. Given that Trey Lance, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson (and more) yielded a higher trade value than two firsts, the Ravens would be better off dealing Jackson straight up.

However, that is not the case at all. DeCosta has once again shown just why he is one of the highest-rated GMs in the league with the masterful decision to tag Jackson with the non-exclusive tag.

Why the Lamar Jackson Non-Exclusive Tag is Brilliant by Baltimore

Applying the non-exclusive tag on Jackson is brilliant on many levels. The most fundamental one is that, truthfully, the Ravens are not looking to part with Jackson. He is the face of the franchise and one of the most valuable players in the league. Baltimore’s offensive woes during Jackson’s absences are testament to that. This, both Jackson and Ravens see a long-term future together, the disagreements merely lie in the finances of their marriage.

The tag has done the trick so far. Multiple teams have publicly declared that they will not be pursuing Jackson. The lack of interest has been alarming, though, perhaps, not particularly surprising. The massive contract and injury worries are among the main reasons why teams are staying away currently. Of course, this may all change. However, as it stands, Jackson’s lack of interest puts the Ravens in a good bargaining position.

From a player management perspective, this was a smart move. By placing the tag on Jackson, the Ravens have given their star quarterback a chance to test the waters amidst their disagreements. Perhaps DeCosta was aware of the lack of market interest in Jackson and so this was a respectful way of giving Jackson a ‘reality check’. Or, perhaps, DeCosta was unsure of Jackson’s true market value and so he wanted to use other teams’ offers as a guideline. Seeing as other teams seem hesitant to offer, it vindicates Baltimore’s decision to not splash the cash on Jackson. The tag was a fair move for both parties.

The Worst-Case Scenario

Of course, there remains the potential that a team does break the bank for Jackson still. In which case, Baltimore will be viewed as being respectful to Jackson’s wishes. The team would be left with the chance to match the offer still, or take the draft picks and cut their ties. No draft picks would be better than Jackson. However, the two firsts would be better than letting Jackson walk away for free.

This, even in this worst-case scenario, the Ravens are not left empty-handed. They could use the picks to draft a quarterback in 2023’s strong class. Or, alternatively, they could wait for the hyped 2024 draft class. Either way, the Ravens will have a franchise quarterback, whether it be Jackson or a rookie.

Main Photo: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports


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