“Nothing has changed in the sense of it’ll happen when it’s going to happen [and] when it’s best for both sides to happen,” Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “Both sides want it to happen. There’s really not a hurry on it. “Lamar Jackson is going to be our quarterback for many years to come. We want him, [and] he wants us. We’re focused on what’s important now, which is a good practice.”
It’s no secret that the Ravens want, and need, to sign Lamar Jackson to a long-term contract extension. Jackson – who is entering the final year of his rookie deal – is due a measly 1.7 million this year. Fellow AFC star quarterback Josh Allen just landed a 6-year, 258 million dollar deal last week. Jackson took notice but didn’t seem to put a whole lot of stock into it.
“That’s good for him, but like I said, I’m not worried about that,” Jackson said. “I’m just trying to work on getting better right now. Like, I just got off COVID[-19]. I’m worried about my teammates, and we’re trying to get somewhere. So, the time will come about that.”
That time is now, and it begs the question; how much should the Ravens pay Lamar Jackson? And, even better, when?
How Should the Ravens Pay Lamar Jackson?
The Ravens have a little bit of a conundrum with Jackson. They want him to be their quarterback- Harbaugh said that himself. So it’s not a question of if the Ravens should pay Jackson, but what. Their problem is that Jackson is a different beast than the rest of the quarterbacks in the NFL. He has not proven that he can throw the ball as well as or even near the same level as the other young quarterbacks in the league.
For example, the Ravens could come to Lamar and tell him that they won’t give him what the Buffalo Bills gave Allen. And what could Jackson say to rebuff them? He is a much worse passer than Allen. At least, Jackson has not proven that he can pass the ball at the same level as Allen.
But, Jackson has the talent to be a great passer. He has the arm strength, and he has made some of those Josh Allen/Patrick Mahomes type throws in his career. But not a whole lot of them, certainly not enough to make the Ravens confident in his ability to do it consistently. Lamar Jackson could counter, and say that his receivers, aside from Mark Andrews, have been awful.
And he would be right.
That is why the Ravens went out this past off-season and acquired Sammy Watkins, Tyler Johnson, and Rashod Bateman. Now Jackson has a competent receiving core. No longer will he have to make up for his receivers, now his receivers should be helping him out instead of the other way around. Will it work? That remains to be seen. And unfortunately, Rashod Bateman reportedly suffered a non-contact injury, in practice today as of this writing. The extent of that injury is currently unknown, but it would be a huge blow if it is serious.
Aside from that, and assuming it’s just an injury scare, Jackson has no excuses this year if he struggles to throw the ball. And that is why the Ravens should wait to pay Lamar Jackson until after the end of the season. Because the Ravens still don’t know how well Jackson can throw the ball.
Of course, Jackson could come back and point out to the team that nobody else in the league offers what he does running the ball. And he would be right, again.
But the Ravens are not going to let him keep running the ball when/if they pay him 200+ million. So while he is electric running the ball, the Ravens are not going to let him keep doing that. And Jackson isn’t going to be young forever. His ability to run the ball is a depreciating asset. That’s why he needs to prove that he can be effective throwing the ball too.
If he can’t do that, Lamar Jackson will be what Twitter trolls claim him to be; a running back. And if the Ravens decide to pay Jackson the running back, then he won’t get anywhere near the amount that Josh Allen signed for. If the Ravens are smart.
What Lamar and the Ravens should do is simply wait. See how the season plays out and find out if Jackson can prove that he can come from behind by passing the ball. If he does, then the Ravens will be happy to pay him 250 million or so, because they will have a top 5 quarterback in the league for years to come.
Lamar should be happy to wait too if he bets on himself and wins, he gets more money than if he signs a deal now before he has proved he can throw the ball. So the answer to the question is simply, wait. It’s a win-win for everyone.