Contract negotiations with QB Lamar Jackson are ‘unique as hell’ – Baltimore Sun

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, in his first meeting with reporters in four years, acknowledged Tuesday that the team’s negotiations with star quarterback Lamar Jackson could lead to a series of disputes. one year increasing contract offers.

Speaking to a group of local reporters at NFL owners’ meetings, Bisciotti questioned signing a long-term extension this year. The Ravens would pay Jackson, who is entering the fifth and final year of his rookie contract, “when he’s ready,” Bisciotti said.

General manager Eric DeCosta “can’t keep calling him and saying, ‘Hey, Lamar, you really have to come in here and do this thing,'” Bisciotti said. “It’s not the job of a general manager.

“[Minnesota Vikings quarterback] Kurt Cousins ​​did it that way. What if Lamar said that? ‘I’ll play on the fifth year, I’ll play on the franchise [tag], I’ll play on another franchise and then you can sign me. And that gives me three years to win the Super Bowl, so you can make me a $60 million quarterback, because that’s where it’ll be in four years. That may be the case, but I’m not talking to Lamar. It’s not my role. I do not know the answer.

Ahead of the 2020 season, Cousins ​​signed a two-year, $66 million contract extension with the Vikings. Earlier this month, he signed a fully guaranteed, $35 million, one-year contract extension through the 2023 season.

Jackson, the NFL’s Most Valuable Player of 2019 and a two-time Pro Bowl selection, will earn $23 million this year. If the Ravens sign him to the exclusive franchise tag next year, thereby preventing Jackson from having free agency, he would be in line for an offer worth more than $40 million. A second consecutive franchise tag would guarantee Jackson a salary of 120% of his first franchise tag salary, and a third would cost even more.

A rapidly growing quarterback market could make a long-term deal increasingly attractive for Jackson. Asked about the Cleveland Browns’ fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million deal for Deshaun Watson, Bisciotti said the Ravens should “take care of [their] way” as they pursued a deal with Jackson.

“Acknowledging that it might have an impact is different from worrying about it, because my competitors have always done things differently from us, you know what I mean?” said Bisciotti.

He added: “So I try to respond to that when I’ve had a reaction. And it’s like, ‘Damn, I wish they hadn’t guaranteed the whole contract.’ I don’t know if he should have been the first to get a fully guaranteed contract. For me, that’s something revolutionary, and it will make it harder to negotiate with others. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to play this game, you know? We’ll see.”

A day after coach John Harbaugh told reporters that a contract extension was “not really at the forefront of [Jackson’s] think every time I talk to him,” Bisciotti repeated that Jackson’s attention was elsewhere.

“It’s unique as hell because everyone expects you to say, ‘I gotta have mine now,'” Bisciotti said, referring to players’ desires for financial security. “The kid is so obsessed with winning a Super Bowl that I think, deep down, he doesn’t think he’s worth it, I think he wants that Contract negotiations with QB Lamar Jackson are ‘unique as hell’ – Baltimore Sun to say, ‘Now I deserve to be on top.’ People can speculate as they wish. I don’t think he’s that excited about the money, and he knows it’s going one way or the other.

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Jackson is coming off his most disappointing season as a starter. Along with battling turnovers and sacks after a torrid opening month, Jackson missed four games with a season-ending ankle injury and another with illness. Bisciotti said the idea that Jackson, as a dual-threat quarterback, is more injury-prone is “a bunch of … talk” without any empirical evidence.

While a short- or long-term extension for Jackson would change the math of the Ravens’ salary cap — in his first four years, Jackson’s cap only increased by $3 million — Bisciotti isn’t. not worried. He pointed to the number of Super Bowl-winning teams led by high-paying veteran quarterbacks and said the Cincinnati Bengals’ path to another Super Bowl appearance with third-year star Joe Burrow is “not easy. guaranteed”.

“It’s a zero-sum game,” Bisciotti said. “You have a great quarterback in that little window that everyone is bragging about. It’s like it was over before you knew it. The moment they are there, it is time to pay them. …

“I don’t really see Lamar becoming more expensive due to the route he chose to take, although the numbers don’t support my theory. I don’t see that as a negative. I think without a QB you believe in, life sucks as an NFL owner and a fan base.

Bisciotti knows how difficult it is to acquire a franchise quarterback — and the cost of retaining one. The Panthers have been through a carousel of mediocre quarterbacks since Cam Newton’s best days in Carolina, while the Chicago Bears traded two first-round picks last year to advance in the draft and select Justin Fields No. 11 overall .

In Baltimore, Bisciotti is just a decade away from handing Joe Flacco, fresh off a Super Bowl title, a six-year deal worth $120.6 million, so the deal richest for a player in NFL history. In 2022, the value of quarterbacks is still skyrocketing.

“I don’t think you can look back at Joe becoming the highest-paid quarterback and say, ‘Oh, that’s when their roster went down,'” Bisciotti said. “That’s the implication – that when Lamar gets the money, you can’t afford all those people. And yet I don’t think we have that memory of Joe becoming the highest paid guy and then our list collapsed. I don’t really remember. We will pay [Jackson] when he’s ready.