JP Finlay, co-host of the midday BMitch & Finlay Show on our sister station 106.7 The FAN in DC, is baffled by how the Ravens/Lamar Jackson relationship is unfolding and unraveling, as no one is exactly sure what Jackson is thinking.
“The Ravens have clearly gotten whatever their message is out, but whatever Lamar’s side of this is, it’s confusing, and no one knows exactly what he wants,” Finlay said Friday.
When CBS Sports’ Will Brinson joined Finlay on Friday, he agreed that it looks like the final resolution is two years of the franchise tag and out for the former NFL MVP.
“Yeah, that’s where I sort of fall on this,” Brinson said. “I think it’s two years on the tag and then free agency; I guess they could do a third one, but that’s unlikely.”
The NFL’s “Drew Brees Rule” only allows for a player to be given the franchise tag three times in their career, with the first having a price tag of the average of the Top 5 salaries in the league at that position, and the second and third tags adding heavy stipends on top of that.
As such, the third tag – which adds nearly 50 percent to the number – has never been used, and so Brinson thinks the Ravens may use the second for 2024, but that’s about it.
“I think it’s two tags and free agency because at this point, you’ve heard Ozzie Newsome even say this is just a problem, talking about the contract. “Lamar has been Tweeting cryptic stuff and the NFL is saying you can’t negotiate with this Ken Francis guy who is Lamar’s trainer or something – is it, like, we’re dreaming?”
Brinson then drew a parallel between Jackson and Aaron Rodgers, as both are agent-less and both are trying to control their own narrative – except the latter seems to be succeeding while the former looks like he’s failing miserably.
“Aaron Rodgers is doing this and putting he message out himself, and he’s a veteran who has done that his entire career, but Lamar is suffering here by not having an agent,” Brinson said. “I understand that an agent would tell him to take certain things to get money in his pocket and get a cut, but if Lamar’s end goal is to max out…he hasn’t made what he wants clear. If he just came out and said exactly what he wanted, that might change the way we view it. I think he’s doing himself a disservice the way he’s clouding things. Us not knowing what he wants, and him Tweeting things, has really conflated the issue.”
Perhaps what Jackson wants, as Brinson posited, is, say, more than Deshaun Watson – but maybe that’s the issue?
“If he came out and said that he won’t take a penny less than what Deshaun Watson got? I don’t blame him, he’s a better quarterback with no off-field issues,” Brinson said. “The Browns screwed up with that deal, but I think a lot of owners won’t engage in Lamar talks because they all want to walk back on these guaranteed deals like Deshaun got, and if they can get Lamar to not try to top that, then guys like Justin Herbert, and Joe Burrow, and everyone else who is coming up for negotiating will do a different deal.”
Of course, a franchise tag only benefits the Ravens, because any team that still wanted to negotiate long-term with Jackson would have to give up two first-round picks to facilitate a deal…and adding Jackson might fundamentally change an offense that could use those picks.
“You could make the case that to fashion an offense around him, you’d want the right personnel and staff to maximize his skill set,” Brinson said. “You’d think any offensive coach worth his salt could make it work with Lamar, but between the injuries and the ton of money tying up your cap, there’s arguments to be made it would be a difficult thing to pull off.”