Lamar Jackson: From MVP to Ignored

Lamar Jackson, in a win over the Denver Broncos 10-9 on December 4th, 2022. Jackson was injured in the game and did not return for the remainder of the season,

From MVP to Ignored: The offseason story of Lamar Jackson

Written and edited by Seth Brown 

8:06 pm, March 8th, 2023

With the recent non-exclusive franchise tag placed on Baltimore Ravens Quarterback Lamar Jackson, a new chapter has opened in the Quarterbacks pursuit of a hefty contract, as various teams formerly interested in offering a deal or trade for Jackson have now suddenly stated they are not interested in offering a deal. This comes as a shock to many, as the 2019 unanimous League MVP of the NFL is still young, in his prime, and well established as a top 10 Quarterback in a League that is hungry for good Quarterback play. So what gives? What has caused the sudden lack of interest in such a highly talented, young Quarterback?
The sudden turn of interest from various teams comes with the placement of the non-exclusive franchise tag. This tag ensures that Jacksons minimum earnings for the year are $32.1 million. However, due to the tag being non-exclusive, it allows any other team in the NFL to offer Jackson a larger contract. If a team does offer a larger contract, the power then goes back to the Ravens - who can decide if they want to keep Jackson by offering a larger counter-offer, or to deal Jackson to the team offering for two first-round picks. 

It is no secret why the sudden loss of interest in Jackson happened just hours after the tag was placed. Prior to the tag, any team interested in acquiring Lamar had two possible options - wait for Baltimore to place a franchise tag on the Quarterback and then offer their own trade, or see if Baltimore would not tag the Quarterback and offer him a contract. Neither of these happened however, as a tag was placed. This means that any teams interested cannot offer their own trade deal, and would instead be locked into sending two first-round picks to Baltimore on top of needing to pay the pricey contract they offer.

Now, many would say that two first round picks and the blank check likely needed to sign the Quarterback is a steal for the once unanimous MVP and still very talented Quarterback, but many of the teams that once were interested would not agree. Many of the teams that have now lost interest, which includes the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Washington Commanders, and Las Vegas Raiders, are all rebuilding teams with high draft picks. This means that they would lose more by offering a deal, as they lose the ability to negotiate lower picks or their own players and instead must deal these picks, which they may rather keep to attempt other deals or spend on the upcoming draft. The minimum $32.1 million contract also likely drove some teams away, as many of these teams have more needs than a Quarterback, and for that money they can sign a slew of players to fill other holes, instead of spending it all on a single position.

Ultimately, Lamar Jackson has earned the pay hes asking for. Despite his injuries, he is still among the best in the League under center. Inevitably, some team will give him his due, whether it be this offseason when a team finally caves and offers him on the non-exclusive tag, or next offseason when his current contract with Baltimore ends and he becomes a free agent. There's even a possibility he remains with the Ravens throughout the beginning of this season, only to be dealt before the trade deadline. Inevitably, though, Jackson will earn the contract he has been negotiating, even though so many clubs have lost interest in him for now due to the sudden price that has been set by the franchise tag.