NFL Exec on Lamar Jackson Contract: 'Fear of Permanent Injury Is so Small These Days'

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVApril 15, 2022

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 12: Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) warms up prior to the National Football League game between the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns on December 12, 2021, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Lamar Jackson is heading into his final year of his rookie contract with the Baltimore Ravens, but he seemingly doesn't have urgency to lock down a long-term deal despite the potential injury risks.

"The fear of permanent injury is so small these days that that does not enter into it," one longtime team executive told Mike Sando of The Athletic. 

Sando noted Dak Prescott suffered a significant ankle injury that caused him to miss most of the 2020 season, but the Dallas Cowboys still agreed to a new four-year, $160 million contract in the ensuing offseason.

Few players suffer irrevocable harm from injuries at the quarterback position, reducing the risk of playing without a long-term contract. 

Cincinnati Bengals star Joe Burrow overcame a torn ACL to start 16 games in 2021 before leading his team to the Super Bowl. 

Jimmy Garoppolo and Ben Roethlisberger also bounced back in 2021 to regain their roles as starters following respective lost years. Even Alex Smith returned to the field after life-threatening infections to his leg, winning Comeback Player of the Year in 2020.

It provides peace of mind for Jackson, even if he suffers an injury in 2022. 

"I think that kid gets paid no matter what," a former general manager said. "In his mind, I don't think he's got a worry in the world."

If Jackson doesn't sign an extension this offseason, the Ravens would likely keep him under the franchise tag over the next two seasons. He would then be able to hit the open market in 2025 in what could be a record-setting bidding war for the former MVP.

The quarterback market has already exploded with seven players averaging at least $40 million per year, per Spotrac, including four new contracts this offseason. Jackson will make just $23 million in 2022 as the fifth-year option on his rookie deal activates, but he knows he is due for a major raise going forward.

The only concern could be how much of Jackson's game is based on athleticism. The two-time Pro Bowler has 3,673 rushing yards over his four-year NFL career, topping 1,000 yards twice. If an injury slows him down as a runner, it could limit his overall effectiveness on the field.

League personnel still see little risk for Jackson holding out for the most money possible.