Lamar Jackson is staying in Baltimore after all.
The Ravens quarterback has agreed in principle to a five-year, $260 million extension that will make him the highest-paid player in NFL history in terms of average annual value ($52 million per year). The 2018 first-round pick has in the process struck the largest deal for any NFL player who doesn’t have an agent, dethroning offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil’s three-year, $75 million extension signed with the Houston Texans last month.
The extension news comes hours before NFL Draft Night and less than two weeks after Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts’ five-year, $255 million deal became the largest in NFL history at $51 million per year. Jackson, 26, now is poised to take that title away from Hurts. Jackson is aiming to return to camp healthy and get back into postseason action after missing the final six games of last season, including Baltimore’s Wild Card playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
“For the last few months, there’s been a lot of ‘he said, she said’,” Jackson said in a video released by the team. “A lot of nail-biting, a lot of head scratching going on, but for the next five years, it’s a lot of flock going on. Let’s go, baby. Let’s go. Let’s go, man. Can’t wait to get there. Can’t wait to be there.”
The new deal reportedly includes $185 million in guaranteed money. While notable, that figure falls short of the fully guaranteed contract that Jackson lobbied for after Deshaun Watson scored a guaranteed $230 million deal with the Cleveland Browns last year. The NFLPA has accused NFL owners of colluding to deny players fully guaranteed deals.
Nonetheless, the agreement is the latest example of how the NFL’s quarterback market is escalating rapidly. While Jackson’s contract is historic, it may not last long at No. 1. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert have been in extension talks with their respective teams ahead of next season. Patrick Mahomes, the reigning Super Bowl MVP, will also be in position to leverage the latest spending spree when he gets into negotiations.
The San Francisco 49ers and other teams reportedly had interest in acquiring the former Louisville star, but the Ravens ultimately ponied up enough cash to keep him. Jackson and the Ravens had been at an impasse for more than two years, leading the team to place the non-exclusive franchise tag on their QB, allowing other teams to negotiate with him.
With the contract saga finally at rest, Jackson can turn his attention to bringing the Ravens their first Super Bowl since 2013. He enters this coming season with some additional offensive weapons, including wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who signed a one-year deal, $18 million deal earlier this month.