The Lamar Jackson contract situation is more complicated than most people realize. The Baltimore Ravens have to stay to their business principles, and know that whatever they do, they will set a precedent for their organization going forward.
I understand that it’s a quarterback and if you did fully guarantee his contract, you’re going to be arguing back and forth with the agents. The danger is that if you fully guarantee a quarterback contract, a superstar player at a different position is probably going to want a fully guaranteed contract.
I signed Kirk Cousins to a fully guaranteed contract back in 2018. However, there is a difference. Cousins was an unrestricted free agent on the market and there were other teams that were willing to meet that demand as well. The other difference was that the contract was only for three years. The only way we were going to be able to get in the game and get Cousins was to be in that realm and fully guarantee the contract.
If you look at the Deshaun Watson situation, I don’t know if Cleveland was the front-runner in that chase at the time and it sounded like there were three or four other teams in it. In order for Cleveland to probably sway Watson to come there and be their franchise quarterback, they had to do what they had to do and give him that fully-guaranteed contract.
In Lamar Jackson’s situation, it’s totally different. He is currently under contract and can be franchise-tagged for the next two years. Because of those factors, that potential franchise money needs to be the floor of where contract negotiations start. I’m sure he’s getting advice and outside counsel probably from the NFLPA and potentially others. While I don’t know that for a fact, those are some different resources for him.
If Baltimore would fully guarantee that contract — and I felt it was a fair contract that they’d given to Jackson — it was excellent in betting on himself. He is also taking a huge risk because of the way he performed in Week 1, which was excellent, but it also comes with the risk of getting injured. Hopefully, he does have an insurance policy that will cover him for future earnings if he does have a catastrophic injury like I experienced when I saw Teddy Bridgewater go down in practice.