It’s been five days since Lamar Jackson was allowed to field contract offers, and not yet has a team come to the forefront. Very little gets out of Jackson’s small inner circle, so the level of interest the quarterback has generated from potential suitors is hard to quantify. But there would be no hiding a signed offer sheet, and that’s something Jackson doesn’t have — at least not yet.
If the Baltimore Ravens were hoping that placing the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson would create a quick resolution to a contract stalemate that has persisted for over a year, they were mistaken. Jackson’s market and future in Baltimore remain as uncertain as they were when the offseason started, and the Ravens continue to deal with the ramifications of their inability to agree to a long-term extension with their franchise quarterback.
A week since teams first began speaking to free agents, the Ravens are one of just two in the NFL (the Jacksonville Jaguars being the other) to not make an outside acquisition. Their free-agent activity has consisted of re-signing five players — running back Justice Hill, linebacker Del’Shawn Phillips, defensive backs Trayvon Mullen and Geno Stone, and long snapper Nick Moore — to modest one- or two-year deals.
General manager Eric DeCosta and other team officials probably won’t acknowledge it, but the Ravens’ lack of free-agent activity and expenditures have created a clear perception that the organization has been hamstrung by the ongoing standstill with Jackson and the need to protect itself against a potential offer sheet for the standout quarterback.
That had to be expected to some extent. When the Ravens placed the $32.4 million non-exclusive tag on Jackson, it put them $9 million over the salary cap. They needed to make moves just to become cap compliant, a balancing act that obviously didn’t portend a flurry of free-agent deals and trade acquisitions.
Still, as the Cincinnati Bengals solidified their offensive line with the signing of Orlando Brown Jr., the Cleveland Browns beefed up their defensive front with Dalvin Tomlinson and three other additions, and as the Pittsburgh Steelers attacked their needs on the first week of free agency, the Ravens mostly stood pat beyond some backend roster moves.