The Baltimore Ravens recently placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on star quarterback Lamar Jackson, amplifying uncertainty about his future with the organization.
The non-exclusive franchise tag gives Jackson permission to engage in contract talks with other teams. If he were to sign an offer sheet with another team, the Ravens would have the option to match the deal and keep him in Baltimore. If the Ravens opted against matching any potential offer sheet, they would receive a pair of first-round draft picks as compensation for losing him.
Jackson is one of the very few players in the NFL who does not have an agent. The 26-year-old represents himself and hasn’t been able to get the long-term deal he wants — reportedly a fully guaranteed one — from the Ravens.
According to a report, there’s a belief around the league and among agents that Jackson would already have a deal if he had an agent, though it’s worth noting that it almost certainly wouldn’t be a fully guaranteed one.
“As for the collusion component, there is zero doubt the NFL and its owners want to make the [Deshaun] Watson contract a one-off, not a trend,” wrote Mike Sando of The Athletic. “Some execs from teams around the league think Jackson, in the absence of an agent, is most likely taking advice from the NFL Players Association, which would love to see the Watson contract become the norm for top quarterbacks. Whereas an agent would have incentive to get a deal done in order to collect a commission, the NFLPA cares most about precedent and could be offering advice accordingly, in the eyes of these execs. There is widespread belief in the league, and among agents, that Jackson would already have a deal if he had an agent.”
As things stand now, Jackson is essentially a restricted free agent. The Ravens surely want him back, but his future with the team is as murky as it’s ever been.
Baltimore would be left scrambling for answers at the quarterback position if it were to lose Jackson. Although backup Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley made the Pro Bowl this past season in bizarre fashion, he didn’t exactly look like the answer for Baltimore during the 2022 campaign.
Moreover, Huntley himself is a restricted free agent this offseason.
Jackson has built an impressive resume at the NFL level and already has an MVP award to his name. He’s a solid passer and has earned a reputation as one of the most dangerous playmakers in the NFL thanks to his ability to do damage with his legs.
Unfortunately, his availability has been a concern in recent years, as he appeared in just 12 games in the 2021 season and 12 games in the 2022 season.
The former first-round pick will find himself playing somewhere in the 2023 campaign, but it’s currently unclear where exactly that will be.