The NFL world remains fascinated with quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.
The two sides couldn’t agree to a new deal last week before the self-imposed deadline, meaning their negotiations are expected to remain on hold until the offseason. But rival front-office executives can’t help but keep tabs on the unique situation.
“That’s a really interesting one,” said an NFL executive, who spoke to the The Athletic on the condition of anonymity. “Someday, I hope to be in the situation to have to make decisions like that, but right now, I’m glad I’m not.”
There are several complexities within these negotiations, which date back to the 2021 offseason. First, the quarterback market has exploded over the past two years, and it’s expected to continue reaching unprecedented levels with disproportionate rises to the salary cap. Second, Jackson is a rare player without any truly comparable peers, which creates the challenge of using other contracts as jumping-off points. And third, Jackson is attempting to negotiate a potentially historic deal without an agent.
Mix these factors together, and each side can stick to their own leverage points.
“I think the Ravens did the right thing,” an NFL general manager said. “I think the best thing is, ‘Hey, listen, let’s not let it linger into the season,’ but there is a lot of pressure on Lamar to perform this year at a high level.”
The Athletic polled executives around the NFL to get a sense for the challenges that come into play with such a unique situation.
Absence of an agent
Jackson has represented himself since he entered the league in 2018 as a first-round draft pick, though he has leaned on an inner circle that includes family and advisors.
The general managers and executives polled by The Athletic unanimously agreed that it’d be easier to negotiate with an agent due to a pivotal factor: An agent removes some of the personal element from business dealings.
“When you’re doing a deal with that type of money, I think an agent would help a lot, just because you’ve got to have a buffer in there when you’re talking about how much somebody is worth,” a second general manager said. “The club has arguments for why you’re maybe not worth as much as you think, or the club is trying to get the best deal for themselves, and the player is trying to get the best deal for himself. And you come to the table with reasons why you came to your position. Sometimes, that can be tough with the player and management dealing with each other. I’m guessing if there was an agent involved, it might already be a done deal. That’s my personal opinion.”