Will Lamar Jackson be Traded Due to Contract Disputes?


AP Photo / Patrick Semansky

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, left, runs a drill during an NFL football training camp practice at the team’s headquarters, Monday, July 23, 2018, in Owings Mills, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Since being drafted in 2018, Baltimore Ravens running back… sorry quarterback, Lamar Jackson, has established himself as an elite, dual-threat, playmaker, winning MVP in only his second season in the league. Now just a couple of weeks from beginning the fifth and final year of his rookie contract, Jackson is looking to sign a record-breaking contract extension with the only professional team he has ever played for: the Baltimore Ravens.

Since the Ravens picked up Jackson’s fifth-year option, the consensus within the league — from both team executives and accredited members of the media — has been that the two parties would reach an agreement sooner rather than later. But with only three weeks remaining until the Ravens kick off their opener against the New York Jets, many are wondering why the former MVP has yet to put pen to paper on a new deal.

Jackson is looking for a fully guaranteed deal worth more than $230 million that would put him in line with some of the other top earners in his position, according to Fox Sports. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Ravens are willing to give Jackson a larger deal than what NFC counterpart Kyler Murray just received from the Arizona Cardinals (five-year, $230.5 million, $160 million guaranteed).

Based on this information, the main point of contention seems to be guaranteed money, which has become a point of emphasis for many of the league’s brightest stars due to susceptibility to career-ending injuries. The Ravens do not seem inclined to honor Jackson’s demands, leading to an awkward stalemate between the two sides.

This type of situation has become almost too common in the modern-day NFL. Superstars Tyreek Hill, Devante Adams and Tom Brady have all recently been traded or walked in free agency after not coming to an agreement with their respective “parent” clubs. Hill landed in Miami after a very unexpected departure from a Chiefs team only three seasons removed from a Super Bowl win. Sports Illustrated reported that Hill himself even said he didn’t want to “break up something special” in KC and initially hoped things wouldn’t unfold the way they did. Adams was traded by the Packers after it was clear that the relationship was “too far gone.” Even Brady, who at one point was thought to be a life-long Patriot, left New England in free agency due to disrespect in contract negotiations.

It seems bizarre that teams looking to compete and win championships would even let the situation get to such an explosive point with these superstar players. But again, football is still a team sport, and it is difficult to have a strong team with so much money tied up in one player.

While these outcomes have become increasingly prevalent, there have been circumstances in which a player and organization ultimately came to an agreement, even after difficult negotiations. Aaron Rodgers recently agreed to the biggest contract in NFL history after an almost three-year dispute with the Packers. Kyler Murray’s new deal represents another success story after a breakthrough in negotiations just recently. This extension came even after a trade request was “on the table.”

If Jackson does not re-sign, there will be many teams bidding for his services. The Chicago Bears may be already looking to move on from Justin Fields and the Miami Dolphins are rumored to be looking for an upgrade over the incumbent Tua Tagovailoa.

Jackson’s departure would probably force Baltimore into a rebuild or at least an aggressive retool, especially considering other teams in the AFC North seem to be pushing their chips to the center of the table. After sending Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to Arizona, Baltimore’s receiving core is lacking serious talent. The offense would need a serious revamp to compete with the likes of Joe Burrow, Jamar Chase, and Joe Mixon — or DeShaun Watson, Amari Cooper, and Nick Chubb.

With Jackson setting a hard negotiation deadline at the beginning of the regular season, even he has admitted that “We’re coming up to it.” With neither side seeming to soften their demands, fans are interested to see how this situation unfolds. The next time fans see Lamar Jackson dicing up the league’s best defenses, will it be in the purple and black of Baltimore, or will he be wearing another jersey?

At the time of writing, no deal seems imminent between Jackson and the Ravens, meaning the quarterback — who has been sticking it out at training camp — will play out the final year of his deal without a new contract.

As he is the current face of the franchise, it is difficult to see him playing for another team. Still, it feels likely an agreement on a deal that keeps the quarterback in Baltimore for the long haul will be eventually reached, but perhaps after the season has concluded. This may not be the timing many Ravens fans around the country want to hear, however at this moment, it seems the most probable outcome is that Jackson will eventually stay in Baltimore, a positive result for all parties involved.

Jackson has made it clear that he hopes to be a Raven for life, but sometimes situations become too complicated, and a split becomes more feasible for both parties. This would be a very unfortunate outcome as Baltimore looks to stay competitive in a tough division.