The Baltimore Ravens placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Lamar Jackson but their reported reasoning puts them in danger of losing the QB.
There appears to be more questions than answers when it comes to what’s going on with Lamar Jackson. The 2019 NFL MVP had the non-exclusive franchise tag placed on him by the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday ahead of the afternoon deadline to use the tag, which allows the quarterback to negotiate with other teams. The Ravens can match any offer Jackson accepts but, if they choose not to, they will receive two first-round picks from the team that will land Jackson.
Despite the early reports of the market for Jackson being lukewarm at best, though, the question lingering was why the Ravens would open themselves up to the possibility of losing Lamar Jackson in this manner, even if it netted them two first-rounders. They run the risk of an aggressive (or desperate) franchise offering a godfather deal they have no interest in matching.
A former Ravens quarterback might have the answer.
Robert Griffin III reported from a source in Baltimore that the organization is using the non-exclusive tag so that both the Ravens and Jackson can see what the market is for the quarterback from “unbiased” parties, noting that they are willing to pay big money to keep him.
That, however, is a slippery slope to live on.
NFL rumors: Ravens testing market with Lamar Jackson tag is dangerous
There is some sense to what Baltimore is trying to do. They are clearly far apart with Jackson in their negotiations, hence getting to the point where they felt it necessary to use any tag on the signal-caller. So being able to gauge the market for fair value does hold some water as a plan.
At the same time, though, Jackson testing the market can be dangerous for the organization. As mentioned, if a team like the Raiders or any other team with a need at the position becomes desperate for a long-term plan at quarterback, they could put forth a fully guaranteed contract in the ballpark of Deshaun Watson’s $230 million deal with the Browns that would be hard for Baltimore to match.
In that scenario, they are either paying Jeff Bezos-esque money to keep Jackson or are getting two first-round picks to hit reset on the roster. Neither is particularly ideal in this situation.
We’ll see how this plan works out. For all we know, it might end up being the right one for the Ravens. As things currently stand, however, it’s impossible not to see the pitfalls of the strategy the team is deploying.