Lamar Jackson Free Agency Rumors: Baltimore Ravens’ Tag Decision Could Set Off Bidding War

What's next for the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson? The two sides appear to be at an impasse ahead of Tuesday's franchise tag deadline.

It’s decision week for the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson. After 12 months of drama and conjecture, we’ll finally have some clarity on Jackson’s fate — but likely not the full story.

Jackson, the former league MVP quarterback, sits atop PFN’s Top 100 Free Agents list. Where will he end up? Read on for the latest Lamar Jackson free agency rumors.

Latest Lamar Jackson Free Agency Rumors

Jackson and the Ravens have been at an impasse for some time. Both sides want to get a contract extension done and presumably aren’t terribly far apart on the annual average annual value.

The sticking point is believed to be guaranteed money. The fully guaranteed contract that the Browns gave Deshaun Watson was a paradigm shifter for players, but not necessarily for teams, who want more protections written into mega-deals.

“I wasn’t thinking as much about those ramifications,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I just felt like and put my trust in the fact that we want Lamar, and Lamar wants to be a Raven. In the end, that’s going to work itself out in my mind. Then you just let providence do its good work and trust in that. Whatever providence ends up determining in the end, I’m going to be all for it. And it’s going to be what’s best for everybody.

“I’ve always been confident that it’s going to get worked out, and I still believe that.”

Hope isn’t a plan, however. And the Ravens do have plans — at least four different sets of them, GM Eric DeCosta said at the Combine.

Step 1: Deciding whether to apply the exclusive or non-exclusive tag before Tuesday’s deadline.

MORE: Baltimore Ravens Offseason Preview 2023

If it’s the exclusive tag (a one-year tender at roughly $45 million), the only way that Jackson would play for another team is under a tag-and-trade situation, and whoever trades for him will surely not give up the haul the Ravens would want without signing him to an extension.

If it’s the non-exclusive tag (a one-year tender at roughly $32 million), Jackson would be free to negotiate with other teams, and the Ravens would have the right to match any offer sheet he signs. If they don’t, Jackson’s new team would have to send two first-round picks to Baltimore.

Ravens Use Non-Exclusive Tag on Lamar Jackson

Jackson on Tuesday learned his fate. And to be honest, it’s probably better than it could have been.

The Ravens elected to use the non-exclusive tag on their former MVP, meaning he can negotiate a long-term deal with other teams beginning Wednesday.

While the Ravens have the right to match any offer sheet his signs, they’ll have to weigh that commitment against the two first-round picks and $32 million in cap space they would get by letting him walk.

PFN’s Dallas Robinson has an excellent breakdown of teams that are the best fit for Jackson. And make sure to read Arif Hasan for an overview of what’s next in the process.

Ravens’ Ozzie Newsome Confirms Tag Plans

DeCosta inherited one of the NFL’s best personnel department from his mentor, Ozzie Newsome, who stepped down as GM in 2019 but remains an executive vice president and trusted confidant.

Newsome on Monday confirmed the obvious during an appearance on the Bernie Kosar Show: The Ravens will place the tag on Jackson if a longterm deal isn’t reached by Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline.

“The biggest thing is that we have a deadline tomorrow at four o’clock to put the tag on,” Newsome said. “I know that today and up until about 3:30 tomorrow, a lot of energy is going to be utilized in trying to get the deal done, and if not, we will put the franchise tag on him.”

Ravens, Lamar Jackson Meet Ahead of Tag Deadline

NFL Media reported early Monday that Jackson — who does not have an agent and represents himself — and DeCosta “met recently in Jackson’s hometown of Miami in hopes of working towards a deal, per sources.

“But after more than a year of negotiations, the sides remain apart, and the situation appears headed towards a franchise tag Tuesday.”

In other words, status quo ahead of Tuesday’s tag deadline.

Meanwhile, ESPN reported Sunday that the Ravens have seriously considered using the non-exclusive tag on Jackson, which would both allow the market for Jackson’s services to set itself (the Ravens would have the right to match any deal Jackson signs) but would also raise the real possibility that Jackson plays for another team in 2023.

Potential Lamar Jackson Landing Spots

If the Ravens do allow Jackson to reach quasi-free agency, there would be a long list of teams with interest.

The New York Jets, Carolina Panthers, Las Vegas Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans, and Atlanta Falcons all need quarterbacks.

MORE: Lamar Jackson Landing Spots

But even teams that have starters under contract — like the Miami Dolphins or the Detroit Lions — could have interest.

So there could be a bidding war for a franchise-changing player, but it’s not a slam dunk. If Jackson has unrealistic demands — particularly for a player with his injury history — the same issues that have prevented him from signing a long-term deal in Baltimore could prevent him from signing one elsewhere.

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