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Lamar Jackson Rumors: Ravens' Refusal to Fully Guarantee QB's Contract Was Key Issue

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 10, 2022

Lamar Jackson (Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Baltimore Ravens' "refusal" to offer quarterback Lamar Jackson a fully guaranteed contract was reportedly at the heart of the failed talks about an extension ahead of the 2022 NFL season.

Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post reported Saturday that Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti was "unwilling to budge on the issue" despite Jackson's desire to sign a new deal similar to the five-year, $230 million fully guaranteed contract Deshaun Watson received from the Cleveland Browns in March.

Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP, confirmed early in training camp he'd set a Week 1 deadline to finalize an extension or he'd play out the final year of his rookie contract.

The Ravens announced Friday there was no agreement in place ahead of Sunday's season-opening road game against the New York Jets. Head coach John Harbaugh said he's still convinced a solution will ultimately be found.

"Those things will work themselves out in the end. I'm confident in that," Harbaugh said. "I said at the beginning that it will happen when it's time, and when it's time it will happen. So, Lamar is playing quarterback, he's going to be playing quarterback here for a long time.

Jackson will earn $23 million in 2022, and it's a virtual lock Baltimore will use the franchise tag on him next offseason if a deal still isn't reached.

It sounds like a major gap remained between the sides before the talks concluded.

La Canfora noted that while Jackson, who's represented himself in negotiations, pushed for a Watson-esque extension, the Ravens "never approached even $200 million in full guarantees."

"He believes he deserves a fully guaranteed contract, it's as simple as that," a source told the Washington Post.

Ultimately, there wasn't enough time pressure to force either side to budge on their stance related to that central issue.

The Ravens know they can use the franchise tag for at least two years before it potentially becomes cost-prohibitive, while Jackson can continue to bet on himself in the short term with the knowledge he'll get paid handsomely if he eventually hits free agency.

In addition, quarterback salaries have continued to soar in recent years, so the dual-threat signal-caller could even more money in the long run by waiting to sign a new contract.

While there's risk involved for the 25-year-old Florida native when it comes to a potential injury, especially since he relies on his legs to make a lot of plays, La Canfora reported the fifth-year QB "hasn't been overly concerned about the injury risk."

Given all of the information and the firm stance on both sides, it's not a major surprise an extension agreement wasn't reached.

Looking ahead, the Ravens are a potential title contender if Jackson can stay healthyโ€”he was limited to 12 games last yearโ€”but the margin for error is limited in the loaded AFC.

They'll focus on that championship pursuit, which starts with the Jets clash at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, before resuming talks with their franchise quarterback in the offseason.

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