After beating Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, Lamar Jackson grabbed a sign from a fan with a clear message to the Ravens’ front office: “Pay ’em Now!”
Lamar Jackson wasn’t signaling his teammates. He wasn’t trying to rally fans. No, Lamar’s message was for Baltimore Ravens management.
On prime time, the Ravens defeated Tom Brady and the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5) 27-22, a game much closer on the scoreboard than in reality.
Jackson completed 27 of 38 passes for 238 yards, alongside 2 TDs, not to mention his 43 yards on the ground. Though this performance came against a seemingly rudderless Buccaneers team, Lamar continued to build a case for an MVP season.
On his way to the locker room after the game, Jackson grabbed a sign from a fan. He held the sign clearly for TV cameras, autographed it, and high-fived the fan. Its message: “Pay ’em Now!”
The sign had Jackson’s No. 8 and a No. 7 (WR Rashod Bateman) on the sign.
Lamar Jackson should be in-line for a big contract extension
This gesture, though in good fun, was clearly aimed at the Ravens front office.
Lamar Jackson and the team weren’t able to reach a deal before September. He said over the summer that once the season started, any contract negotiations would take a back seat to playing football since Jackson represents himself and doesn’t have an agent.
Other star QBs signed massive deals in the offseason that served as easy points of comparison. Kyler Murray inked a $230.5 million ($105 million guaranteed) contract. Russell Wilson signed a $245 million ($165 million guaranteed) deal. And the Deshaun Watson scored perhaps the biggest deal ($230 million fully guaranteed), despite his off-the-field controversy.
Jackson believed that he was worth at least as much as these three QBs. Choosing not to sit out or stage a protest, Jackson did the thing he knows best: play football. He bet on himself, deciding to play without a contract in place, a major risk in any sport, let alone professional football.
So far, Lamar’s bet appears to be paying off. With 1,635 passing yards, 15 TDs, and a 63.0 QBR, Jackson is in the MVP conversation on his passing alone. But factor in his 553 rushing yards (4th in the NFL), and he’s a frontrunner. Moreover, the Ravens as a whole are 5-3 and starting to look like a team that could contend. All of this bodes well for future negotiations.
Looking across the QB landscape, especially at the three big offseason peer contracts, it’s easy to see with hindsight who should get paid. Not only statistically has he been superior, but also he’s never had a problem reviewing film, communicating with teammates, or any serious off field concerns. Lamar’s performance through eight weeks suggests that whenever he signs his next contract, much like his on-field play, it will be one for the record books.