Although Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens have kept the details of their contract negotiations private, the star quarterback has turned down a five-year extension offer worth more than $250 million with $133 million guaranteed at signing, sources told ESPN.
The extension, which ran through the 2027 season, would have increased the total value of Jackson’s deal to just under $274 million over six years, according to sources. Jackson would have played out the $23 million option for the fifth year on his rookie deal before the extension began in 2023.
The extension years in the Ravens’ proposal would have paid Jackson a higher median salary than the deals signed this summer by Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson and Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and also more guaranteed money on signing, according to sources.
But sources told ESPN that the Ravens also waived Jackson’s desire for a deal that was fully guaranteed upon signing, similar to Deshaun Watson’s, prompting the parties to announce Friday that they had submitted contract talks until after the 2022 season.
Wilson signed a $242.5 million deal earlier this month for an average of $48.5 million a year and including $161 million guaranteed, about six weeks after Murray received a $230.5 million deal averaging $46 million per year and including $189.5 million guaranteed.
But according to sources, the problem for Jackson was not Wilson or Murray’s deal, but Watson’s. The Browns signed Watson to a $230 million contract that was fully guaranteed at signing. The Ravens’ $133 million fully guaranteed bid at signing was ahead of both Wilson’s ($124 million) and Murray’s ($103.3 million), but lagged far behind Watson’s.
Jackson acted as his own agent in the negotiations while relying on the help of his mother and the NFL Players Association, whose job is to provide statistics, information, guidance and be a sounding board throughout the process.
The union advised Jackson, 25, that based on his performance and age, he was justified in demanding a fully guaranteed contract, sources said.
Union sources labeled the Ravens’ talks with Jackson “in good faith,” though the team took $2.5 million in annual de-escalation clauses if Jackson didn’t attend a high percentage of off-season practice.
Jackson will earn $23,016 million in his fifth-year option, but has no guaranteed money after this season. He hopes to get an extension with the Ravens after this season, who are expected to apply their franchise label to Jackson and prevent him from getting free will if the parties still can’t reach a deal.
Jackson puts the biggest bet in football on himself, similar to what former Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco — who starts Sunday against Baltimore for the Jets — did in the 2012 season. Flacco’s deal was about to expire and he led Baltimore to a Super Bowl title. before becoming one of the highest paid players in the NFL.
Jackson, who has had more hits (737) than any other quarterback since 2018, was asked last week whether he considers it a risk to play without guaranteed money after this season.
“It was a pretty big risk last season. The year before,” Jackson said on Wednesday. “I’m just playing football. Anything can happen. God forbid something bad happens.”
Jackson has proven to be one of the NFL’s top playmakers and winners over the past four seasons. Since he became the Ravens’ starter midway through the 2018 season, Baltimore is 37-12 (.755) with him and 2-5 (.286) without him. He was the unanimous NFL MVP in 2019.
But Jackson is coming off his most challenging season in 2021, when he threw a career-worst 13 interceptions and missed a career-high five games, including the last four due to an ankle injury.
Jamison Hensley of ESPN contributed to this report.
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