Admission: outside of football season, there are weeks when I’m genuinely uncertain if there’s a topic I truly feel like I could dedicate an insightful and/or thoughtful opinion column about for my traditional Monday morning webspace here at PressBoxOnline.com.
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Wow, that’s really surprising, Glenn. I’ve literally never believed your standards could possibly be ‘insightful’ OR ‘thoughtful.’” Fair.
This week I actually had a ton of different ideas for where I might go with a column. Trey Mancini’s return to a baseball field, Maryland’s emphatic win against Michigan State and getting the chance to finish Kevin Cowherd’s upcoming book about UMBC’s stunning 2018 upset of Virginia all enthralled me this weekend.
But 44 printed words altered the course of not only my Monday column but likely the nature of sports talk in our community for the coming months.
“Two sources said Lamar Jackson and the Ravens have started talking about a contract extension, but the sides are far apart. One problem for Jackson is that he still has two years left on his deal and is only making $1.77 million in 2021.”
This otherwise innocuous note was tucked deep in a column Boston Globe NFL writer Ben Volin wrote about the various goings-on of the NFL’s quarterback carousel this offseason. It represents the first meaningful update we’ve really had from someone who is plugged in since Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said in January that he would engage the former MVP in conversation about an extension.
So let’s unpack a little bit. First, I know Volin to be a well-thought-of, plugged-in reporter. Second, I have no idea who his sources are. As I constantly remind people, “sources” are sometimes direct parties involved. Other times, they are third parties that have reason to be privy to certain information.
While Volin’s sources could be with the Ravens or in Jackson’s camp, they could also be within another NFL team that has been monitoring the Ravens’ situation with interest and therefore has knowledge, or they could even be with another agent/representative that has interest in what’s going on with Jackson because of how it impacts their own client.
I don’t say this to question the validity of Volin’s reporting. I have absolutely no reason to think Volin’s information came from anyone other than someone he specifically trusts to know exactly what they’re talking about. I share it merely for context because this situation is unique. We STILL don’t publicly know who might be advising Jackson in these conversations besides his mother Felicia Jones.
I’m not sure why anyone within the Ravens organization would want the public to know they’re far apart from a deal with their popular quarterback. (To be clear, again, this DOESN’T mean Volin’s sources aren’t direct. I truly have no idea. Just trying to have a bigger conversation.)
And with that all said, I bring you … the point!
The point is that Volin’s report is almost certainly accurate, can be accepted at face value AND we don’t have to freak out about that. We can save that for friends who think that “Hamilton” should have won best picture when, seriously you guys, it was a damn recorded performance so why in blue hell was it ever nominated to begin with?
We don’t have to freak out … yet. There is no greater statement to be made at the moment. At least not with the information we have. The Ravens are in higher negotiating ground for the exact reason Volin points out. Jackson is under contract for two more years at low cap figures (and the Ravens have the right to franchise tag him after that … technically, even twice).
The Ravens don’t “have” to give Jackson a long-term deal for another four years. In non-Tom Brady football terms, that’s an eternity. So if they’re going to negotiate now, it could be understandable that they would say, “If we’re doing this, we want to do something far more favorable for us.”
Jackson, of course, is, you know, a former UNANIMOUS MVP OF THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. So as quickly as you might say, “It’s ridiculous for Lamar Jackson or any other quarterback to seek a 10-year, $450 million deal like Patrick Mahomes got,” there’s no actual reason why Jackson and his camp shouldn’t aim for as much money as they can possibly get. Hell, Taylor Heinicke just got paid and he has won (checks notes) literally zero games in his career.
Let’s be clear again: I don’t know that any of this is actually what’s going on. It’s just a reasonable interpretation of how conversations COULD go out of the starting block in a situation like this and why it might very well be that the sides are “far apart.” There is nothing remotely similar to a “deadline” looming, so it’s absolutely not a big deal that this is where we find ourselves a month in.
What’s unreasonable is jump to absurd conclusions. It’s unreasonable to think something like “this is proof that the Ravens don’t think Jackson is any good” or “the Ravens always planned to let him play out his rookie deal, franchise him twice and then move on” or whatever other ridiculous proclamation you might want to toss around.
I’m of the opinion that if the Ravens are going to end up giving Jackson a long-term extension (and, seriously, why in the hell wouldn’t they?), they should try to get it figured out now so that they can be fully aware of the impact it will have on every other decision they make. But that’s an opinion. The Ravens might well prefer to get the salary cap a bit more normalized post-pandemic before they pull the trigger.
Whatever the situation is, unless we get some sort of more dramatic nugget in the future, we just shouldn’t panic about this. Save the panic for the things that really matter. You know, like, “Does anyone know enough about Lamar’s relationship situation to know whether I could make some money betting on a future one?”
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