Baltimore’s offense desperately needs Lamar Jackson, but that won’t matter during contract negotiations

Ravens will likely use Jackson’s injury history against him

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Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson
Photo: Getty Images

Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens have gone nearly the entire 2022 season and have yet to come to an agreement on a contract extension. We knew this would be the case entering the season, but now we’re going to find out where loyalties lay in a worst-case scenario. Jackson went down with a knee injury during Baltimore’s Week 13 win over Denver. He left that game in the first quarter, and since then, this Ravens offense has sputtered along, falling out of first place in the AFC North, even if only temporarily.

The dynamic attributes Jackson brings to the table are even more evident when he’s not taking snaps for Baltimore. When Jackson is on the field, the Ravens’ offense ranks in the top third of teams across the league. When he’s out, they’re in the lower third of teams. Sure, that’s one of the most obvious stats ever, but that still won’t be enough proof for Baltimore to go ahead and pay the man.

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We see it time and time again in player/team negotiations. Any and everything that can be used against said player to drive down his value will be used against them. It’s like the unspoken Miranda rights of NFL contracts: Anything you say (or do) can and will be used against you in these negotiations.

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This is what Jackson will deal with once he and the Ravens return to the table in the offseason to work on a new deal. His late-season injury will become a point of contention because he missed significant time. In the NFL, missing one game is considered too much, and Jackson has already been inactive in two consecutive games and missed most of a third.

Baltimore is 1-1 since Jackson left the lineup, and did get the victory in the game in which he was injured. Most of that credit is attributed to the defense for keeping them in games, going above and beyond to pull out victories. On Saturday against division rival Cleveland, Baltimore’s defense held the Browns to 13 points. Unfortunately, the Ravens’ offense managed just three points in this game.

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After a performance like this, Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti should be rushing to extend the former league MVP and keep him with the franchise as long as possible. But it won’t happen that easily because it would’ve happened already if that was the case. Jackson wants a fully guaranteed contract, and that’s where the Ravens have reportedly drawn the line. And now, with Jackson’s latest injury, the likelihood of getting the deal he wants in Baltimore seems less feasible each day he’s out.

Jackson sat out of five games last season with an injury, and now he’s missed two in a row and will likely miss a third. The Ravens are in a battle for the AFC North lead with the Bengals that could come down to the final game of the year in Week 18 at Cincinnati. Luckily for Baltimore, they’ve got a win over Cincy already this year, but if they can’t keep pace over the next couple of weeks, this one could be the difference in getting a home playoff game or going on the road out the gates.

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Ravens’ management claims they know what they have in Lamar, as they always speak highly of him publicly, especially whenever head coach John Harbaugh is at the podium. But the way you show what he really means is to pay him what he’s worth. If he thinks he’s worth $200+ million guaranteed, then that’s what it takes.

There’s only one real question the Ravens need to ask themselves in dealing with this matter. Who is available that is equal to or better than Jackson on the market? The answer to that is nobody. You’d better believe that if Jackson were ever to hit the open market in his prime, there’d be 20 teams lined up to take a crack at landing the gutsy playmaker.