Although Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens kept details of their contract negotiations secret, the star quarterback turned down a five-year extension offer worth more than $250 million with $133 million guaranteed at the signing, sources told ESPN.
The extension, which spanned the entire 2027 season, would have increased the total value of Jackson’s deal to just under $274 million over six years, sources say. Jackson reportedly played the $23 million fifth-year option on his rookie contract before the start of the extension in 2023.
The extension years in the Ravens’ proposal would have paid Jackson a higher average salary than the deals signed this summer by Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson and Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and also included more guaranteed money. at signing, sources say.
But sources told ESPN the Ravens also balked at Jackson’s wish for a fully guaranteed deal upon signing, similar to Deshaun Watson’s, prompting the sides to announce on Friday that they had filed contract talks until at the end of the 2022 season.
Wilson signed a $242.5 million contract earlier this month, averaging $48.5 million a year and including $161 million guaranteed, about six weeks after Murray received a $230.5 million contract with an average value of $46 million per year and including $189.5 million guaranteed.
But the problem for Jackson wasn’t so much Wilson’s or Murray’s as it was Watson’s, sources say. The Browns signed Watson to a fully guaranteed $230 million contract at signing. The Ravens’ offer of $133 million fully guaranteed to sign was higher than Wilson’s ($124 million) and Murray’s ($103.3 million), but well below Watson’s.
Jackson acted as his own agent in the negotiations while relying on the help of his mother and the NFL Players Association, whose job it is to offer statistics, information, advice and to be a sounding board. , which was the case during this process.
The union advised Jackson, 25, that based on his performance and age, it was justified in demanding a fully guaranteed contract, sources said.
Union sources called the Ravens’ talks with Jackson “good faith,” though the team included $2.5 million in annual de-escalation clauses if Jackson didn’t attend a high percentage of off-season practices. .
Jackson will earn $23.016 million in his fifth-year option but has no guaranteed money after this season. He’s hoping to land an extension after this season with the Ravens, who are expected to apply their franchise tag on Jackson and prevent him from hitting true free agency if the sides still can’t reach a deal.
Jackson is making football’s biggest bet on himself, similar to what former Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco — who starts against Baltimore on Sunday for the Jets — did in the 2012 season. Flacco’s deal was due to expire, and he led Baltimore to a Super Bowl title before becoming one of the highest-paid players in the NFL.
Jackson, who has taken more hits (737) than any other quarterback since 2018, was asked last week if he thought it was a risk to play with no guaranteed money beyond this season.
“It was a big risk last season. The year before that,” Jackson said Wednesday. “I just play football. Anything can happen. God forbid a bad thing to happen.”
Jackson has proven to be one of the NFL’s best playmakers and winners over the past four seasons. Since becoming the Ravens’ starter midway through the 2018 season, Baltimore is 37-12 (.755) with him and 2-5 (.286) without him. He was the unanimous NFL MVP in 2019.
But Jackson is coming off his toughest season of 2021, when he threw a career-worst 13 interceptions and missed a career-high five games, including the last four with an ankle injury. .
ESPN’s Jamison Hensley contributed to this report.
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