Lamar Jackson has suffered a plethora of indignities at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens. Add one more to the mix. Traditionally, MVP-caliber quarterbacks negotiate for top-dollar extensions that set the standard for the quarterback compensation model. Throughout their battle with Jackson, Baltimore has reiterated their desire to agree to a deal that would keep him in a Raven uniform for the rest of his career — except one that would guarantee his salary for the next five years. It’s semantics, but a hill that the Ravens are willing to die on.
I used to believe that eventually the Ravens would head to therapy and come to the realization that they needed a quarterback more than they desired to toe the league’s company line on guaranteed contracts. However, comments from Lamar agitator and GM Eric DeCosta during a pre-draft news conference, indicate that they haven’t learned a thing. Baltimore’s next checkers move in their all-out campaign to alienate Jackson may be to draft a rookie quarterback in the first round of the upcoming draft. While addressing reporters on Wednesday, DeCosta was very careful with his words, except for on the topic of drafting a replacement for Jackson.
“It depends on the board, it really does,” DeCosta said. “I mean, I’d have to say yes because we have quarterbacks in our top 31. So just based on that alone, simple math, I would have to say yes.”
What’s the thought process?
It’s important to note that the Ravens could have discussed drafting a quarterback in later rounds or stuck with Tyler Huntley as their emergency starter. However, wasting a first-rounder on a quarterback deprives them of the ability to follow through on their promise to use that pick to weaponize their dull offense around Jackson instead of nabbing a wideout to augment a receiving corps that ranked last among all 32 wide receiver rooms in yards gained last season.
In essence, Baltimore following through on this threat would effectively end any hopes of salvaging a relationship with Jackson. Bringing a rookie quarterback into the fold is tantamount to throwing gasoline on a fire. Things will only get more contentious from there.
DeCosta’s comments could all be bluster, but blowing hot air wouldn’t make much sense if they were as committed to easing tensions and bringing Jackson back as they claim. There’s no logical reason to address drafting a quarterback while playing it coy and shutting down reporters who dare ask Jackson-related questions. The Ravens own the 22nd pick in the first round, which is well out of range to select a premier-grade quarterback prospect.
The Ravens plucked Joe Flacco out of Delaware in the first round of the 2008 Draft, but nothing DeCosta has done as general manager indicates he has the acumen to nail a quarterback pick in the bottom of the first round anyways.
But even if he believed he could, what’s the purpose of nagging Jackson with that answer? Front offices regularly lie, deflect and throw smokescreens in front of the media when it comes to clandestine draft strategies. At one point in the press conference, a media member was kicked out for merely asking a question about Jackson.
DeCosta’s answers are burning bridges with Jackson just fine though. Normally front offices in this position would be showering their frustrated franchise quarterback with gratuitous flattery and avoid making comments that could further inflame the situation.
The Ravens have allegedly guaranteed Jackson $200 million, according to Adam Schefter, but they’re seemingly more committed to the league’s fight against fully-guaranteed deals than they are to the fortunes of their own team. If this is all about principles of shelling out fully-guaranteed deals, they should just offer Jackson $25 million more than the $230 million the Browns gave Deshaun Watson, guarantee $230 million of that $255 and call it a day. Instead, DeCosta has decided to play with fire and in the process of torching the last remnant of the last Ozzie Newsome era.