For the second straight year, the Ravens face the prospect of their electric QB watching their final game from the sidelines. Last year it was a bone bruise on his ankle. This year a PCL sprain.
Still, sources say the Ravens have not changed their stance on whether Lamar Jackson is their future at QB.
When the season ends — Sunday against the Bengals or next week or sometime in the future — they plan to negotiate with Jackson in hopes of reaching a long-term deal, sources say. They pressed ahead of the season, but never got to the point of coming close to an agreement.
Jackson is hoping for as much guaranteed money as possible, maybe even a deal similar to Deshaun Watson’s, and that was one of the major heists leading up to the season. Jackson played on the $23 million fifth-year option last season after the Ravens’ good faith efforts failed to end in a deal.
Any expectation is that Baltimore will tag him for 2023 if they can’t work out a long-term extension, sources say, though the specific tag isn’t yet known. Most QBs receive the exclusive tag, which prevents any other team from shooting at the player, while other players receive the non-exclusive tag – meaning there’s compensation in the form of two first-round picks if another team pry him off with a long-term deal.
Essentially, sources say that despite the disappointment that Jackson cannot play in the first round of the playoffs, the Ravens are still all-in.
To be sure, it’s been a week for Jackson, who came out with details about his grade 2 PCL sprain, describing his knee as swollen and unstable.
While swollen seems to be correct, especially after rehab workouts, unstable is not the way it has been described before. It appears Jackson would be at minimal risk of another injury if he played.
But as he explained in his tweet, that’s not the problem. The problem is that he doesn’t feel like he can be 100% himself when he plays. So, Jackson waits, and there’s no guarantee that anything will change next week.