Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is getting paid and accepting the reality of the NFL

Finally, star Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson accepted the cold reality of his situation and agreed to a massive new five-year contract on Thursday.

It’s about time.

And now Jackson has to redouble his efforts on the field. He still has a lot to prove there.

Jackson eventually accepted a deal that makes him the highest-paid player in Ravens history. He got this status. It is reported that in 2019-2020 The 2018 Associated Press NFL MVP also tops the NFL’s all-time list with a $260 million package, eclipsing recently signed Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurz at $255 million.

Here’s the thing, though: What matters most in NFL player contracts are the practical guarantees. Jackson will be guaranteed $185 million at the end of the contract. On this all-important list, Jackson remains significantly lower than Cleveland Browns signal caller Deshaun Watson, whose record $230 million deal is fully guaranteed. And Jackson isn’t even number 2. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray holds that distinction, with $189.5 million guaranteed in his contract. Jackson and Hurts ($180 million guaranteed) round out the top four.

For months, the Ravens’ top decision makers made it clear to Jackson that they would not offer him a fully guaranteed contract. They also weren’t interested in having a player on their roster with at least $200 million guaranteed.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson celebrates against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 26, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan.

Ray Del Rio/Getty Images

It seemed that even if the Ravens had posted all of this on a billboard in downtown Baltimore, Jackson still wouldn’t have gotten the message. Jackson’s previous defiance prompted the Ravens to place the non-exclusive franchise tag on him to prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent, infuriating Jackson to the point where he publicly revealed his desire to leave Baltimore.

Jackson has done more than Watson. Had Jackson been able to get a bigger guarantee than Watson, Jackson could have dealt a blow to player credentials that would reverberate throughout professional sports’ most successful league.

But from the very beginning of Jackson’s talks with the Ravens, things never went his way. That was as clear as the lack of production from the Ravens to this point in the Jackson era.

The Browns needed Watson to waive the no-trade clause that was part of the proposed deal to acquire him from the Houston Texans, and their desperation showed their willingness to accept Watson’s unprecedented contract demands. Jackson had no such leverage, said N. Jeremy Duru, a sports law professor at American University and a longtime observer of NFL recruiting and contract practices.

“Deshaun Watson was the exception,” Duru said by phone. “But the question was, ‘Could this be the beginning of a new normal?'” What we quickly saw was that many people in power, the owners, expressed real concerns [Jackson’s deal] and what it might indicate.

“Since then, you’ve seen that we haven’t had that big of a guarantee. And I think it will be a while before contracts move in that direction again.

Still, Jackson is in the top three all-time in guaranteed money, which isn’t bad.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, left, and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, right, congratulate each other at the end of the game at M&T Bank Stadium on September 28, 2020 in Baltimore.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

As the franchise moves to a new level, the Ravens’ senior leaders have shown a strong commitment to Jackson, who despite his many accomplishments has plenty of room for growth in the most important area for quarterbacks: his playoff performance.

You just can’t throw it in: Jackson hasn’t shined in the postseason. He is 1-3 in four playoff starts and his production is down from the regular season.

It won’t be enough for Jackson to make dazzling plays as a runner and passer during the regular season. Not for the money the Ravens will pay him.

Consistently, Jackson should lead Baltimore deep into the postseason. He needs to increase his rep with those signature playoff moments that Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Joe Burrows of the Cincinnati Bengals have already amassed in plenty. Heck, Hurts joined the roster last season, leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl.

Then there’s the question of Jackson’s durability.

The fact is that he has finished the last two seasons injured. Jackson missed 11 games, including Baltimore’s AFC playoff loss to the Bengals.

After there were no public bidders during Jackson’s contract battle with the Ravens, many NFL observers took to social media to say that team owners should work together in an effort to dash players’ hopes of receiving Watson’s treatment. Well, maybe. But good luck finding evidence to support this theory of the matter.

Here’s a counterargument: Perhaps most NFL general managers didn’t want to aggressively pursue a quarterback, even one as gifted as Jackson, who spent most of the previous two seasons on the sidelines and has yet to prove he can lead a team to the Super Bowl. Bowl.

The Ravens drafted Jackson, dismantled their offense and rebuilt it around him to maximize his unique skill set. He’s their guy. Even without fully guaranteeing Jackson’s contract, they did it again.

Jason Reed is Andscape’s senior NFL writer. He enjoys watching sports, especially any games his son and daughter participate in.

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