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Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson Can’t Go Into 2022 Season Without Contract Extension

  • Justin Melo
  • February 10, 2022
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Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta is entering a crucial offseason. The 2022 iteration of the Ravens will look predictably different from the injury-riddled squad that disappointingly missed the postseason in 2021. Key players will heal and return from injury, but the most important aspect of Baltimore's offseason centers around the heated Lamar Jackson contract situation. The way things are currently set up, Jackson is entering the final season of his five-year rookie contract in 2022 following Baltimore's decision to exercise his fifth-year option (duh). Jackson will earn just north of $23 million this coming season before potentially reaching free agency in 2023. Extending Jackson via a shiny and expensive contract is a no-brainer offseason move for a Ravens organization that should immediately address and secure his future in Baltimore. The situation risks a potential holdout that could last into late August or nightmarishly beyond. Jackson's physical playing style and dynamic rushing ability suggest he must protect his long-term future. Injuries could throw a wrench into contract talks, something that places Jackson at a disadvantage from a leverage perspective. Playing on what's essentially a one-year deal would be an ill-advised move for Jackson, and the Ravens could hardly afford to deal with a lengthy holdout. A Jackson holdout of course isn't guaranteed, but it's one plausible scenario that could come to fruition should negotiations continue to trot along slowly. Since entering the league in 2018, Jackson has transformed the Ravens into perennial title contenders. Jackson was 7-5 as a starter in 2021 and likely would have led the Ravens to their fourth consecutive postseason appearance under his watch if not for an unfortunate late-season injury that hampered the Ravens' playoff chances down the crucial stretch of the season in a highly competitive AFC North division. The former Louisville standout has reigned victorious in 37 of 49 career starts across a four-year timeline. The Ravens won 11 or more games in the two seasons Jackson started 13 or more contests. In his short but impressive career, Jackson has already captured an MVP award while catapulting the Ravens to a 13-win season and the No. 1 seed in the AFC in his sophomore season. What exactly are we doing here again? DeCosta's hesitation to prioritize Jackson's contract qualifies as both confusing and disrespectful. It's rare to witness a bonafide franchise quarterback reach the final year of his contract. Jackson's decision to self-represent himself has potentially derailed and stalled the necessary negotiations, and he should probably employ an actual NFL agent to take charge of the situation. Nevertheless, the Ravens must, and should agree to a long-term extension with Jackson prior to the 2022 campaign kicking off.

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Justin Melo