Ravens use franchise tag on QB Lamar Jackson

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens placed the franchise tag on the quarterback lamar jackson Tuesday, taking the NFL’s top potential free agent off the market.

The Ravens made the long-awaited move official by using the tag just before Tuesday’s deadline at 4 p.m. ET. Baltimore and Jackson, who does not have an agent and represents himself, have not been able to reach a long-term agreement since becoming eligible for a contract extension more than a year ago. two years. Sources told ESPN last year that Jackson wanted a fully guaranteed deal like the one given to Deshaun Watson last year by the Cleveland Browns. Baltimore opposes it because the team views the Watson deal as an outlier.

The Ravens used the non-exclusive tag on Jackson, sources told ESPN. With the Ravens using the non-exclusive tag, Jackson can enter into contract talks with other teams. If Jackson signs an offer with another team, Baltimore has the right to match the offer to keep him or take two first-round picks as compensation. The non-exclusive tag — which will net Jackson $32 million this season — is cheaper than the exclusive tag (projected at $45 million), which would have given the Ravens control of his rights this year.

It’s unclear which teams might be interested in speaking with Jackson, but the Atlanta Falcons won’t be pursuing him, sources told ESPN’s Dianna Russini.

It’s also possible he could stay with the Ravens.

“There have been numerous instances across the league and in Baltimore when a player was named to the franchise tag and signed to a long-term contract in the same year. We will continue to negotiate in good faith with Lamar, and we hope we can reach a long-term agreement that is fair for Lamar and the Ravens,” general manager Eric DeCosta said in a statement. “Our ultimate goal is to build a champion team with Lamar Jackson in the lead for many years to come.”

Jackson, 26, is only the third quarterback to win the NFL MVP title and then receive the franchise tag, joining Steve Young (1993) and Peyton Manning (2004 and 2011), according to the search ESPN Stats & Information. Young and Manning entered into long-term agreements and did not play the entire season under the label.

Now, under the franchise tag, the Ravens and Jackson have until July 17 to reach a long-term deal. If an agreement is not reached by the deadline imposed by the NFL, a new agreement cannot be signed until after the season. Baltimore has multi-year deals with five of the seven players who have previously been franchised by the team.

It’s unclear how Jackson will proceed under the label. He could wait to show up just before the start of the regular season or choose not to play under the label at all.

If Jackson doesn’t sign the franchise tender — which would guarantee his salary for this season — he’s technically not under contract and can’t be fined for missing the mandatory minicamp in June or training camp in the summer. Jackson could return before the season opener in September and earn his full salary. At the end of last season, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said no one can assume Jackson will miss all offseason practices and training camp, saying, “He’s not beating the drums. from everyone.”

Another option for Jackson is to go all season. But there has only been one player in the past 25 years to sit out a full season after being tagged: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell in 2018. If Jackson were to hold out until the season, he must sign his offer by the Tuesday following Week 10 in order to play in 2023. If Jackson does not play for Baltimore next season, the The Ravens may hand him the franchise tag to prevent him from becoming a free agent in 2024.

The only other quarterbacks on the Ravens roster are Tyler Huntleya restricted free agent, and Anthony Brownwho is in his second season after being an undrafted rookie.

Baltimore will need to take several steps to bring the bidding for Jackson’s franchise under the salary cap by 4 p.m. ET on March 15, when the 2023 league year officially begins. The Ravens have $22 million in cap space, and Jackson’s tag will be $32 million (the $45 million exclusive tag number would go into effect April 21). To create much-needed cap space, Baltimore may have to free up key players such as the defensive end Calais-Campbellto come back Gus Edwards and security chuck clark.

Ravens officials acknowledged it was a “difficult negotiation” because Jackson does not have an agent. But in January, Baltimore signed Roquan-Smith to a five-year, $100 million deal, even though the center linebacker represented himself during contract negotiations.

Jackson stopped answering questions about his contract after Week 1 of the 2022 regular season and hasn’t spoken to reporters since Dec. 2, his last media session before suffering a season-ending knee injury. When asked in Week 2 why guaranteed money was important to him, Jackson replied, “I’m done talking about it, respectfully.”

The final pick in the first round of the 2018 Draft, Jackson was the most electrifying offensive player in Ravens history, becoming a unanimous selection for NFL MVP in 2019. He is the first player in the NFL to produce 5 000 passing yards and 2,500 rushing yards. the first three seasons of a career.

Jackson’s playing ability has made the Ravens one of the most successful teams over the past five seasons. His 45-16 record (.738) is fourth-best of any quarterback to debut in the Super Bowl era, behind only Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady and Roger Staubach. The Ravens have struggled without Jackson the past two seasons, going 3-9 (.308) in his absence.

But Jackson’s passing and durability have come under intense scrutiny. Over the past two seasons, Jackson has had 33 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions and missed 11 games, including a playoff loss to the Bengals last season.

Jackson is the eighth player and first quarterback to earn the franchise tag from the Ravens. The only players who were tagged and did not re-sign with the Ravens were offensive lineman Wally Williams (1998) and outside linebacker Matthew Judon (2020).

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