Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson reportedly may enter the 2022 season without a contract extension in place.
ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported Friday on Get Up that a "gap" still exists between Jackson, who's entering the final season of his rookie contract, and the Ravens in talks about a new deal.
"The people I'm talking to believe this very well might not get done by Week 1, because there's a gap in the pay of guaranteed money and the structure of a contract," Fowler said. "Lamar Jackson wants very strong guarantees, and he's got the blueprint with Deshaun Watson and the fully guaranteed deal he got of $230 million [from the Cleveland Browns]."
He added the Ravens did "make a push in recent weeks" in an effort to finalize a deal before the regular season kicks off in September.
Jackson, who's representing himself in contract discussions, skipped voluntary portions of the Ravens' offseason program but showed up for the start of training camp and has been a full participant in practices.
Last month, the 2019 NFL MVP said he informed the organization he's not interested in continuing to work on an extension once the regular season starts.
"I said there is going to be a cutoff [in talks]," Jackson told reporters when asked whether he's hopeful an agreement is in place before a Week 1 game against the New York Jets on Sept. 11. "So, hopefully."
Outkick's Jason Cole reported Thursday that Jackson is seeking a fully guaranteed contract that eclipses Watson's record-setting $230 million guarantee.
The Ravens would likely use the franchise tag to keep Jackson for at least two more seasons, which limits the time pressure on the organization.
As negotiations continue, here's a look at the highest amount of guaranteed money given to quarterbacks at the time of signing, per Spotrac:
- Deshaun Watson (Browns): $230 million
- Kyler Murray (Cardinals): $104.3 million
- Aaron Rodgers (Packers): $101.5 million
- Josh Allen (Bills): $100 million
- Dak Prescott (Cowboys): $95 million
Jackson, who tallied 76 total touchdowns (62 passing and 14 rushing) in 30 games between 2019 and 2020, saw his numbers dip last season. He recorded 18 total TDs (16 passing and two rushing) and 16 turnovers (13 interceptions and three lost fumbles) across 12 appearances in 2021.
The dual-threat playmaker also missed the season's final four contests with an ankle injury, and the importance of his running ability has raised questions about his long-term durability.
Yet, finding a franchise quarterback is the toughest task for any NFL front office and letting Jackson walk away in a few years would be a massive risk for the Ravens.
Getting a long-term extension done now is ultimately the best result for both sides, but it sounds like the talks may come right down to the wire ahead of the opener next month.