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Op-Ed: Baltimore Ravens, Lamar Jackson Contract Woes are a Bad Omen

Rumors of contracts. Rumors of guarantees. Tweets.  Re-tweets.  Laughing emojis.  Fake agents.  Mysterious emails. Florida man.  

The Lamar Jackson contract negotiations have officially gone full clown world.

And, although the Ravens have until July 17th to work out a long-term contract with Jackson, the constant twists and turns are a dark omen of negotiations going forward.  

The most recent in a string of social media barbs, and mainstream media meltdowns, came in the form of an NFL memo making its way into the inboxes of all 32 football teams.  This memo, warning team owners to avoid engaging with uncertified NFLPA agents, was prompted by rumors of unsolicited emails by Mr. Ken Francis, labeling himself an agent working on Lamar’s behalf.  

Of important note here: Lamar Jackson doesn’t have an agent.

In response to these allegations, Lamar denied Ken Francis’ involvement in any club negotiations, saying: “stop lying; that man never tried to negotiate for me,” followed by a line of laughing emotions.  

Ken Francis simply stated: “I don’t speak for Lamar.”

And indeed, he does not speak for Lamar.  He is Lamar Jackson’s business partner in an unrelated fitness product called “The Entire Gym.”  

Lamar Jackson later tweeted a meme of an absolutely exasperated Ben Affleck smoking a cigarette in a Baltimore Ravens jersey.

Me too, Ben.  Me too.

This isn’t the precedent set by any previous NFL contract negotiation, as far as I’ve seen.  However, the NFL is in new territory, with the recent fully guaranteed contract to Deshaun Watson (which, without getting into too much detail, is quite possibly the most ill-informed business decision I’ve seen since Shark Tank turned down Ring doorbell cameras).  

And, considering that the media (including myself) is completely bound by nearly baseless conjecture, I’m going to look into my own crystal ball to peruse the mindset of the 26-year-old archetypical Michael Vick nearly 5-digit rushing yards clone: He wants to be paid what he’s worth.  

Maybe not the $200 million/4-year contract that an NFL insider tweeted about, which drew more laughing emojis from Lamar.  

Clearly not the $133 million/3-year contract that Lamar mentioned he turned down in response to the aforementioned NFL insider statement.  

However, after numerous seasons with 1,000+ rushing yards, winning MVP in 2019, and a 45-16 record with the Ravens, a non-exclusive franchise tag (avoiding the exclusive franchise tag, which would’ve cost the organization $13 million more) just isn’t going to cut it.  It sends a message that the Ravens could “take it or leave it”.  Especially when you consider that numerous quarterbacks around the league are securing long terms contracts (Kyler Murray signed a $230.5 million/5 year extension; Josh Allen signed a $258 million/6 year extension; and as mentioned at the beginning of this article, Voldemort himself started this whole debacle with a $230 million/5 year fully guaranteed contract).

And who knows, maybe team owner, Steve Bisciotti, is just reading the room. Numerous teams around the league have shown zero interest in courting Jackson, despite them all having a crucial deficit in their quarterback room.  Rumor has it this cold shoulder is an intentional move by team owners to contain the mess that Deshaun Watson and the Cleveland Browns created.  It’s hard to say that, for sure.

However, NFL analyst, Dan Orlovsky, brought up a good point on the Pat McAfee show: this debacle could send a poor message to Raven’s locker room about their value.  Lamar Jackson has put up some serious numbers in that Baltimore Ravens locker room, and yet he hasn’t received an offer he can feel good about.

What do you think that does to a locker room full of players who look up to Lamar?

Time will tell.


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