Kyler Murray’s five-year, $230.5 million contract represents yet another watershed moment in the rapidly exploding NFL quarterback market. How Murray’s contract impacts Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson bears watching along with future negotiations for Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, and Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert.
It’s conceivable, if not a likely scenario, that all of these deals — perhaps signed by the offseason and maybe sooner in Jackson’s case — will eclipse recent contracts signed by the likes of Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, and Murray in terms of average per year.
What’s next for Lamar Jackson and his contract?
The Ravens and Jackson are talking. However, no deal is imminent, per a league source. And Jackson, who has no agent and is advised by his mother and outside counsel, is in no rush to sign a contract at this time, per league sources.
“Kyler’s deal is basically the floor for Lamar, and he is going to want more money than Kyler,” said a league source not involved in the talks. “Every big-time quarterback is going to ask for the Watson deal or more, but I view that one as an exception, not the rule.
“Could that change? Of course, but teams are going to be hesitant to start making this like Major League Baseball with huge guaranteed contracts. Whatever Jackson winds up getting is likely going to be topped by the other quarterback deals down the road.”
There’s no sense of urgency on Jackson’s part to sign now because the money will only keep going up as long as he remains healthy and productive. The Ravens aren’t expected to want to rent Jackson under the franchise tag.
He’s due $23.016 million this year under a fifth-year club option the team exercised a year ago. He could make roughly $47 million next season under a franchise tender, but that would crush the Ravens’ salary cap because none of the money would be prorated.
A former NFL Most Valuable Player, Jackson is incredibly valuable to the Ravens. Their once-promising season flamed out when he was injured last year.
What has changed between the Ravens and Jackson?
Unlike the past when Jackson raised eyebrows and created some consternation when he politely declined to open contract talks or attend voluntary offseason workouts, Jackson reported on time for training camp and has engaged in talks with the Ravens.
And although he previously pushed off this potential blockbuster payday that owner Steve Bisciotti and general manager Eric DeCosta were quite willing to sign off on in the past, that has changed.
Jackson is known as an independent thinker who does things differently and maintains a tight inner circle. He’s open and interested in a long-term deal with the Ravens, though, league sources emphasize.
And sometimes, he’s not afraid to make his feelings known publicly.
When Jake Paul wrote on social media that “Lamar Jackson deserves that Murray Money plus plus,” Jackson replied affirmatively: “My boy 100 100.”
Jackson has leverage, but it isn’t like the equivalent of a limited bidding process Watson and his agent, David Mulugheta, and the Houston Texans were able to engineer to manufacture a trade once a Texas grand jury declined to indict the three-time Pro Bowl passer on sexual misconduct allegations.
As far as the Ravens organization goes, Ravens coach John Harbaugh has weighed in on this topic multiple times this offseason, stating previously on the unresolved contract issue: “We’ve been down this road many times through the years. I’ll just let Lamar speak for himself on that.”
So, the Ravens aren’t going to create pressure. They’re handling the situation delicately, as they should. And Jackson is going to maintain a patient approach.
“Lamar isn’t worried about the contract,” one source close to the situation said. “He’s going to do what he always does with any major decision. He’s going to think things over, talk with his mom and make a decision that’s in the best interest of him and his family. If that means signing now or waiting, he’ll be good either way.”