There’s a lot uncertainty surrounding Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s contract situation, but for former Ravens head coach, Brian Billick it’s a no-brainer that the Ravens have to and will eventually pay Jackson.
Billick coached the Ravens from 1999-2007 and won Super Bowl XXXV in January 2001. He now an adviser for the Arizona State football program, a role he’s excited about.
Jackson is currently under contract for the 2022 season on his fifth-year option, which will pay him about $23 million. Starting in 2023, he is eligible to be franchise tagged. Another interesting wrinkle in the conversation is that Jackson does not have an agent and is representing himself in all negotiations.
“The deal is going to get done, at some point,” Billick said on Glenn Clark Radio March 29. “They are not going to let Lamar Jackson leave. There’s total commitment to him. They understand what the money is. They have to sort through, ‘How is that going to affect our team?'”
Jackson had a bit of a down season in 2021, when he battled injuries. Jackson started 12 games, threw for 2,882 yards, 16 touchdowns and the most interceptions he’s thrown in a season (13). He also rushed for 767 yards and two touchdowns, which was the fewest he’s had in a season so far in his young career.
In the NFL, paying quarterbacks can always be a difficult decision because of the amount of money that has to be committed to one position. In recent history, paying large sums of money to quarterbacks can restrict the amount of money available for other positions. Billick referenced the Green Bay Packers, who just gave Aaron Rodgers a three-year deal worth $150 million and then traded star receiver Davante Adams to Oakland Raiders, for whom he signed a five-year, $140 million contract.
That is the type of difficult decision the Ravens could face in the aftermath of rewarding Jackson with a huge contract. However, in Billick’s mind, there is no doubt that the Ravens and Jackson will reach an agreement on a multi-year extension. It’s just taking some time because the Ravens have to map out a plan, according to Billick.
“That’s exactly the discussions that Baltimore is having right now. ‘We’re going to pay Lamar Jackson. How do we do it in a way that doesn’t strap us to the point where we can’t support him with good players around him?’ Because Lamar doesn’t want that either,” Billick said. “So that’s the balance. It’s not a matter of, ‘Are we going to commit the funds? Do we want Lamar here?’ That’s a given.”
In Billick’s mind, it is clear that the Ravens will pay Jackson because he is one of the most talented players in the league. Jackson is just 25 years old and already has two Pro Bowls and an MVP under his belt through his first four seasons.
“It’s a quarterback-driven league. When you’ve got a guy that’s special, you got to keep him,” Billick said. “I mean, would you advocate not paying Patrick Mahomes? Aaron Rodgers? No. You have to [pay].”
In addition to talking about Jackson’s future in Baltimore, Billick also spoke about his current role at Arizona State University. Billick, 68, is currently an offensive analyst and adviser to Arizona State head football coach Herm Edwards.
The main reason why Billick took this new position was because of the people who work for the program. Billick has known Edwards since the ’80s. Longtime Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is also a special assistant to Edwards. Lewis was the Ravens’ defensive coordinator under Billick when the team won the Super Bowl in January 2001.
Billick described the adviser role as being a great fit because it allows him to have some flexibility. Billick lives in Maryland, but he travels to and from Arizona, where he spends a lot of time working with Sun Devils coaches.
“Advising coaches, giving them whatever input that I can,” Billick said. “[I] help kind of point them in the right direction and still be around the kids to a degree. So it’s a good balance for me.”
In addition to working with Arizona State, Billick also said it’s great to enjoy the Arizona weather and play some golf, which is something that he has recently gotten into. Overall, it seems Billick has found a great fit and he is enjoying his new role.
“Life’s good — just chasing the grandkids, enjoying learning the game of golf and being [around] and interacting with ASU,” Billick said. “It’s been great.”
For more from Billick, listent to the full interview here:
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