I have to say as a Bills fan I am extremely happy that we have Josh Allen at Quarterback.
This offseason the Biggest Drama has to be 100% Baltimore Ravens Quarterback Lamar Jackson.
The former NFL MVP is currently a free agent with the Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag on him. This should be one of the simplest processes to figure out, but alas this is the NFL and what should be simple has been made hard.
Why should it be simple? The NFL is a Quarterback Driven League. Star Quarterbacks get big deals, teams are happy to pay them. So what's happening here?
Depends on who you talk to and why this is the offseason drama.
If you talk to some people - The ENTIRE NFL is colluding with the Ravens to prevent Lamar Jackson from getting his true value on the market. How can you not bring the Brinks truck we are talking about an NFL MVP here.
DeMaurice Smith the Executive Vice President of the NFL players assoiction is fully on record making this claim, to the point he is trying to shame NFL teams to give Jackson whatever he is asking for because otherwise it's collusion.
Jackson is on record saying he won't hire an agent, no need to share the riches, yet the NFL has now had to send out a reminder to the league that they can not talk to anyone claiming to represent Jackson unless they are a registered agent with the NFL.
So Jackson may be seeing that it's once thing to negotiate a rookie deal where pretty much 99.9% of the deal is a given. Perhaps it's harder to be a free agent and have to negotiate a long term deal.
In the end it really boils down to the NFL's Headache from Last Year Deshaun Watson. The Browns desperate to get a QB they felt could take them over the top agreed to a 5 year / 230,000,000 dollar fully guaranteed contract so that he would approve a trade from the Texans to the Browns. Even with 20+ alleged sexual assulte complaints against him.
The Browns are already feeling the pinch. Since the deal was signed they needed to clear some space but without much to work with they have converted much of his salary to a new signing bonus and added a void year to the end of the deal. Now instead of being on the hook for over 50M this season they only are on the cap hook for 19. However that increases the next 3 year to $64,000,000 per season, plus a 9 million dollar void year. My guess is they have to do it again next year adding a 2nd void year. If they do and it really voids that will put them a slid 27 Million dead money in 2027 assuming they don't keep doing this. It's a bad contract and the Browns are making it even worse.
Now back to Jackson who is saying hey this is the new baseline. But is it?
Since the Watson contract was signed 2 more Quarterbacks have signed new deals.
Russel Wilson signed a 5 year deal with $242,588,236, of which $161,000,000 was guaranteed ($124,000,000 at signing)
Kyler Murray he signed a 5 year $230,500,000 deal, with $189,500,000 guaranteed ($103,300,000) at signing.
These are not fully guaranteed deals but they are both worth a pretty penny.
Now we come back to Jackson. We are multiple weeks into free agency and there is nothing being reported that he is close to anything. There are people like Smith and some other talking heads screaming, about collusion or other reasons. Some reports are Jackson turned down a 6 year $250 Million offer prior to the 2022 season.
So now here we are what's next? Is Lamar Jackson worth the Mega Deals being given to Quarterbacks today? Yes of course, personal feelings aside about him as a QB I believe he will eventually get the big deal. Will it be fully guaranteed. Not a chance. The fact is in 2021 and 2022 he played in 12 games and missed the rest due to injury. His own style of play is highly dependent on his ability to run and be elusive. The more you injure your lower body the harder it is to be that fast and that elusive.
I believe at this stage that Mike Florio has the most likely reason Jackson isn't getting signed at the moment and it's that he doesn't have an agent.
He is sitting with a non-exclusive tag. If a team signs him and the Ravens don't match Baltimore gets 2 first round picks. Go look at what the Browns gave up for Watson or the Broncos gave up for Wilson and tell me an NFL that wants Jackson wouldn't be more than happy to give up 2 first round picks.
Nope if a team is worried about the Ravens simply taking the deal they agree to Jackson with then 1 of 2 things needs to happen
1) It has to be Fully Guaranteed and as I noted before nobody is going to do that.
2) It has to have a pretty complex structure that makes it almost impossible for the Ravens to match, that means a lot of language that typically requires agents to read, review, and confirm, it's why agents have a team working for them as well.
Lastly Sometimes negotiations get ugly. Agents serve as the buffer, it's business not personal and later if you are having challenges with said player you can normally call an agent to help defuse anything that is happening, unless the player is his own agent.
In the end Lamar Jackson really has nobody to blame but himself. He is getting bad advice from someone, he has already lost millions of dollars he could be getting via investments from a more than fair market contract. I suppose some might say he is betting on himself, I say he is losing the bet and will continue do to so until someone talks some sense into him to hire an agent who will represent Jackson and understand the market and get him a great deal.
In the meantime we will continue to see Jackson not signed, and my prediction is we will hear the voices claiming collusion and conspiracy will grow louder and louder.
What will it all mean for to me? Nothing but joy and amusement knowing my team has Josh Allen and we are free from this nonsense.