On the first Sunday of the regular season, ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen reported that Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson had turned down a contract offer that would have guaranteed him $133 million if the contract was signed. ESPN analyst Ryan Clark recently reported the same.
We said that in September because it still applies: “The coverage has some gaps that make a full evaluation of the offer impossible. How high would the cash flow have been in the first year? How much of the contract would have been guaranteed for injuries? How much of the injury guarantee would have turned into a full guarantee in March 2023 since there was no way they would have cut him after just a year given what they would have paid him in 2022?
It is impossible to fully evaluate a business without knowing its full value. Every payment, every guarantee, every vesting period, every incentive, every escalator, every de-escalation, every training bonus, every roster bonus, every option bonus, every roster bonus per game and every other means by which money would flow to play team.
It’s also irrelevant at this point. Circumstances have changed. Jackson’s rookie contract has expired. He ended the season with an injury that caused him to miss more than a few games for the second straight year.
Other big-money long-term quarterback deals (like those on Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray) may have become cautionary tales, too.
Will the Ravens make the same offer now? Will they offer more? Will they offer less?
Are you happy with letting Lamar test the market under the non-exclusive franchise tag? Would they match someone else’s offer? Would they be willing to take a pair of first-round picks instead? Would you trade him for a little less than two?
Those are the important questions now. Hearing again (and probably again) that he was offered $133 million at signing, fully guaranteed, means nothing in isolation, and it means even less over time.
So unless Lamar, the NFL Players Association, or the Ravens are willing to disclose the full content of the offers made, it is impossible for anyone to call a deal good or bad, fair or unfair, satisfactory or unsatisfactory. While this doesn’t stop people from reporting incomplete facts about past or present negotiations, those who see the information should remember that there is no way to assess the entire deal without knowing the full deal (spoilers -Alarm).