by Brandon Reiter
The NFL has found it’s way to remain in the headlines despite it being the middle of the offseason large in part due to the unique contract discussions surrounding prominent quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson.
While Rodgers figured out he would like to continue his career for a tune of $50 million while he was meditating in a cave or whatever, Lamar Jackson has been trying to negotiate a new deal with the Baltimore Ravens despite not having an agent.
There’s no doubt amongst the football community that Jackson has a remarkable talent. Like many others, I was instantly awed the first time I saw him play, back when he was in college with the Louisville Cardinals. He was up against my lowly Syracuse Orange and he straight up hurdled a guy without even touching him on his way to a touchdown. He went on to win the coveted Heisman Trophy that year, and later went on to be selected by the Baltimore Ravens with the last pick in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft.
Despite the concerns about his throwing accuracy, Jackson quickly made the teams who passed on him regret it. That year we saw quite quarterbacks drafted in front of him (Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and Josh Rosen were all selected in the top 10, yikes.)
In just his second season and first as a fulltime starter, Jackson won the league’s MVP award after throwing for over 3000 yards and rushing over 1200. But despite his regular season success, Jackson has disappointed in the playoffs and has suffered a few injuries the past couple seasons that sidelined him from some crucial games. Even so, there is no denying that Jackson is one of the league’s best at the key position and is due a big pay day entering his 6th season.
However, the negotiations have been taking very long, as Jackson is seeking a fully guaranteed contract (meaning he gets paid even if he gets hurt and can’t play). Personally, I believe that should be the case regardless, but that’s not how it works in the NFL today. There have been some players to successfully negotiate fully guaranteed deals, the most recent one being Deshaun Watson when he signed with the Cleveland Browns for $230 Million last year.
Many people, and perhaps Lamar, are pointing to Watson’s deal as a main reason he deserves a fully guarantied deal. Especially when you consider the fact that Watson was coming off an ACL injury. Oh and numerous allegations that he sexually harassed many of his massage therapists.
But just because the Browns do something, doesn’t mean everyone else will do the same. In fact, it would probably make sense for them to do the opposite since the Browns haven’t won a playoff game since I’ve been alive, but that’s besides the point.
Lamar and the Ravens have yet to finalize a deal, but the most interesting factor that may be holding this all up is that Jackson does not have an agent. Sure, there have been players to successfully negotiate deals by themselves, but those have all been long tenured veterans playing less vital positions. Lamar is the first quarterback in the prime of his career to attempt a record-breaking deal on his own. And perhaps this is the most important reason why he has failed to make a deal so far.
It may have nothing at all to do with his talent, injury history, or even his asking price. Agent’s have relationships with teams and have a variety of negotiating tools and their disposal that a player, who’s main focus is football, simply not might be aware of. I mean if you were trying to run a business, just like Lamar is essentially doing, you wouldn’t spend you entire day trying to balance your books, create budgets and forecasts, and file you own taxes would you? Of course not, you’d hire Skyview CFO to take care of that so you can focus on what you do best to help your business grow.
But perhaps it goes even deeper. Think about what would happen to the agent industry if Lamar did indeed sign a record breaking, fully guaranteed contract… It would set a remarkable precedent. Players like Lamar in the future would look at him and think, “Lamar was able to do it, why would I hire an agent so he can take a hefty percentage?”
I’m not saying the agents are colluding with the owners to make sure this doesn’t happen, but I’m not not saying it either.
So, what would you do if you were Lamar? Would you saddle up with an agent at this point to try to get a deal done, or would you continue and try to break precedent?