Still nursing a knee injury suffered in Week 13, Lamar Jackson will miss his sixth consecutive game this weekend, raising the very real possibility that the former league MVP has played his final down as a Baltimore Raven. While the Ravens could extend him the franchise tag this offseason (currently projected for $32.45 million), from the looks of it, their relationship has soured of late, with some questioning the extent of Jackson’s injury, wondering aloud if the 26-year-old is truly hurt or preserving himself for free agency.
Conscious of that perception, Jackson presented his own narrative on Twitter, giving a detailed account of his rehab process and where he stands in his recovery from a Grade 2 PCL strain. Not everyone was buying that explanation, including coach John Harbaugh, who admitted he hasn’t “paid much attention” to Jackson’s commentary, suggesting a rift that’s been steadily building, recently reaching a crescendo with news that Lamar wouldn’t be in uniform for Sunday’s Wild Card game at Cincinnati. That tension isn’t lost on Chris Simms, who expects we’ll hear plenty of buzz connecting Jackson to his hometown Dolphins this offseason.
“If you told me Lamar Jackson ends his relationship with the Ravens and where’s the No. 1 place he’s going to go? I’d say the Miami Dolphins. He’d fit that offense, and whoa would that be scary,” said Simms during his appearance Friday on God Bless Football. “I do think that things in Baltimore are a little weird right now. A few weeks ago, I had people tell me his knee was still very much an issue and they had no idea what to expect. And, of course, the contract situation and all that. I wouldn’t be surprised if we heard some of that chatter this offseason.”
While Simms admires Jackson as a player, he’s not sure about his negotiating tactics, declining to hire an agent while recently turning down a six-year, $290-million extension that would have made him among the highest-paid players in football. “It’s a weird approach by Lamar and his camp,” said Simms, host of Chris Simms Unbuttoned and a weekly contributor to NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcasts. “I’m a big Lamar fan, but I don’t quite understand it. And I don’t necessarily love his approach as to how this is going down.”
It will be interesting to see how the Dolphins proceed at quarterback, needing to make a decision on Tua Tagovailoa, who enjoyed a breakout year but also suffered three concussions. The Dolphins are known to be enamored with Tom Brady and could have similar interest if Aaron Rodgers forces his way out of Green Bay, though both would only be temporary solutions, with Simms seeing Jackson as a much better long-term fit.
“They’re ready. That’s why I think they’re going to have to be aggressive and think about this and be smart,” said Simms. “Listen, I know Brady and Rodgers are shiny objects, but there’s a good chance you get them and then the next year, you’re in the same boat of like, wait, I’ve got to try and find another quarterback. They retire or they want to go to another team now. I don’t know if that’s the best thing for a team that has a chance to be good for the next five years.”