While the start of the 2022 NFL regular season is on the horizon, the Baltimore Ravens and quarterback Lamar Jackson reportedly aren't close to a contract extension.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, "nothing is imminent" with the Ravens and Jackson even though the season opens Thursday night and the Ravens play their first game Sunday against the New York Jets:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
From <a href="https://twitter.com/gmfb?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GMFB</a>: Nothing imminent with the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Ravens?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Ravens</a> and QB Lamar Jackson, while Odell Beckham Jr. remains the highest profile free agent heading into the season. <a href="https://t.co/FXuSHVijvx">pic.twitter.com/FXuSHVijvx</a>
Per Mark Maske of the Washington Post, there is "pessimism" that Jackson and the Ravens will get a deal done, and a source indicated the most plausible scenario is that Jackson plays out the final year of his contract in 2022.
Jackson announced last month that Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season is his self-imposed deadline to get a new contract agreed upon.
Rapoport added that Jackson is looking for a fully guaranteed contract similar to the one the Cleveland Browns gave quarterback Deshaun Watson.
While Watson did receive an unprecedented $230 million in guaranteed money, Rapoport noted that Jackson's bid for a fully guaranteed deal took a hit when Kyler Murray signed his contract with the Arizona Cardinals in July.
Murray became one of the NFL's highest-paid quarterbacks with a five-year, $230.5 million deal, but only $189.5 million of it is guaranteed.
Although the guaranteed money is a cloudy situation because of the disparity between what Watson and Murray received, a strong case can be made for Jackson to receive more total money and a higher average salary than both of them.
The 25-year-old led the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons before missing five games because of illness and injury last year. Baltimore went 1-4 in those games, and the team finished the season 8-9 and missed the playoffs.
In 2019, Jackson's first full season as a starter, he completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 3,127 yards, a league-leading 36 touchdowns and just six interceptions while also rushing for 1,206 yards and seven scores en route to being named NFL MVP.
Jackson's numbers haven't reached those levels since then, but he still threw 26 touchdown passes and rushed for 1,005 yards in 2020 before injuries disrupted his 2021 campaign.
Perhaps the biggest knock against him is a lack of playoff success, as he has gone just 1-3 as a starter in the postseason.
Also, Jackson's style of play can be conducive to injuries, and the Ravens saw it firsthand last season. He takes a lot of extra hits as a runner, and it is fair to wonder if that contributes to Baltimore's hesitation to give him the deal he wants.
Because of that, Jackson may play the 2022 season on an expiring contract, and Rapoport noted that the likeliest course of action would be for the Ravens to place the franchise tag on him for 2023.
Jackson would face plenty of risk in that scenario, but the path has worked and led to huge contracts for other quarterbacks, including Kirk Cousins and Dak Prescott.