By not signing Lamar Jackson to an extension this offseason, the Ravens took a huge risk, as the market for quarterbacks should only increase. The Browns can hurt them.
Jackson was willing to bet on himself, which speaks to the fact that he represents himself, rather than having an agent like most NFL players. While Lamar has trusted advisors in his family, any agent would’ve likely encouraged him to take the money the Ravens were offering due to his recent injury concerns.
However, one has to admire Jackson for knowing his true value when he’s at his best. Jackson is a former MVP, after all, and could reach those heights again if the Ravens can stay remotely healthy this year.
That’s the inherent risk in all of this for Baltimore — can they afford Jackson as his price goes up?
How the Browns can screw over the Ravens with Lamar Jackson
The rival Browns have a role to play in all of this.
Baltimore’s plan next season is most likely to franchise tag Jackson. It ensures he’ll stay under contract and cannot become a free agent. From there, perhaps they can negotiate a long-term deal.
But a franchise tag will be costly for the Ravens. While the Browns will want to restructure some of Deshaun Watson’s record $55 million AAV for next season, they won’t do so until AFTER the Ravens have to tag Jackson, thus driving his tag price up.
Influencing Jackson’s price tag can limit exactly how much money Baltimore can spend in free agency to surround him with talent. It basically forces their hand, and makes the Ravens invest the majority of their assets in one player.
For a team that hopes to be in the upper echelon in the AFC next season, Baltimore needs all the wiggle room it can get to improve the roster. Every dollar counts, and the Browns know just that.