On April 27, 2023, the Baltimore Ravens and quarterback Lamar Jackson agreed on a massive contract extension worth $260 million, including $185 million in guarantees. The extension, which keeps Jackson with the Ravens through the 2030 season, solidifies him as the team's franchise quarterback for the foreseeable future.
The deal is significant for several reasons. Firstly, it makes Lamar Jackson one of the highest-paid players in NFL history, and it sets a new bar for quarterback contracts. Previously, Patrick Mahomes held the record for the largest contract in NFL history, signing a 10-year extension with the Kansas City Chiefs worth $450 million in 2020. While Jackson's deal is not as long as Mahomes', it still surpasses the previous record for guarantees, which was $141 million, also set by Mahomes.
Secondly, the deal demonstrates the Ravens' commitment to Jackson and their belief in his ability to lead the team to a championship. Jackson, who won the NFL MVP award in 2019, has quickly established himself as one of the league's top quarterbacks, with his dynamic running ability and improved passing skills. He has led the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his three seasons as a starter, but he has yet to win a playoff game. With this new contract, the Ravens are betting that Jackson can take the team to the next level and bring a Super Bowl title to Baltimore.
Thirdly, the deal sets the stage for future negotiations with other young quarterbacks around the league. Jackson, who is just 24 years old, was eligible for a contract extension after his third season, due to the rules of the NFL's collective bargaining agreement. Other young quarterbacks, such as Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tua Tagovailoa of the Miami Dolphins, will also be eligible for extensions in the coming years. Their contracts will likely be influenced by Jackson's deal, as teams and agents use it as a benchmark for negotiations.
The structure of Jackson's contract is also noteworthy. While the total value of the contract is $260 million, the vast majority of that money is in the form of guarantees. According to reports, Jackson will receive $40 million in signing bonuses and roster bonuses in 2023, and then $23 million in salary and bonuses in 2024. After that, his salaries will increase in each year of the deal, with his highest salary coming in the final year of the contract.
This structure is beneficial for both Jackson and the Ravens. For Jackson, it provides him with a significant amount of guaranteed money upfront, which gives him financial security in case of injury or other unforeseen circumstances. For the Ravens, it allows them to structure the deal in a way that fits within their salary cap constraints, while still giving Jackson the kind of long-term security he was seeking.
Of course, with any contract of this magnitude, there are risks involved. While Jackson has shown tremendous potential in his first three seasons, he is not without flaws. His passing accuracy has improved, but it still lags behind some of the league's top quarterbacks. He has also been criticized for his performance in playoff games, where he has struggled at times. If Jackson fails to live up to the expectations set by his contract, the Ravens could find themselves in a difficult position down the road.
Overall, though, the Ravens' decision to sign Lamar Jackson to a massive contract extension is a bold move that reflects their belief in his ability to lead the team to success. The deal sets a new standard for quarterback contracts, and it will likely have an impact on future negotiations with other young quarterbacks around the league. Time will tell if the Ravens' investment in Jackson pays off, but for now, the team and its fans can rest easy knowing that they have their franchise quarterback locked up for the foreseeable future.