Sunday, October 1 2023

Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens have agreed to five-year contract extension worth $260 million, with a reported $185 million in guarantees. The $52 million average salary — the largest average annual value (AAV) in NFL history — makes Jackson the league’s newest highest-paid player.

These numbers slightly surpass those of Jalen Hurts, who recently signed a huge extension with the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this month. Jackson’s contract is worth $5 million more than Hurts’ in total and $1 million more in AAV.

Jackson will also rake in roughly $7 million more than two-time Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes. The 27-year-old QB inked a monster 10-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020 that was set to pay him up to $450 million. At the time, that made him the highest-paid NFL player in terms of AAV. It remains the largest overall contract in NFL history.

Jackson’s new deal also puts him slightly ahead of four-time NFL MVP and newly minted New York Jets QB Aaron Rodgers ($50.3 million) and Denver Broncos QB Russell Wilson ($48.5 million) in AAV.

Jackson’s $185 million in guarantees is the second-highest amount ever given as part of an NFL contract. Only Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson ($230 million) checks in ahead of Jackson in terms of most guaranteed money.

On Friday’s “Undisputed,” Shannon Sharpe, a Hall of Famer who played two of his 14 NFL seasons with the Ravens, shared why he’s relieved that both sides were finally able to get the deal done after months of back-and-forth, and importantly ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft.

“He had to make some concessions,” Sharpe said. “He wanted more than Deshaun guaranteed. … He didn’t get what he wanted, but he also got Baltimore to come up on the guarantees, so I think everybody at the end of the day is extremely happy with this. The guy has a 45-16 career record, fourth-best of any starting quarterback in the Super Bowl era.”


Jackson reportedly turned down a $250 million extension with $133 million guaranteed ahead of the 2022-23 season.

“There’s nothing to be down about,” Sharpe added. “Lamar should be very happy. … All in all, it’s a good deal for both sides. You see they went and got Zay Flowers, they signed Odell [Beckham Jr.] in the offseason, they get Lamar back in the fold. … They’re trying to give him some weapons, so people can stop this notion, ‘Lamar doesn’t have anything.’ … I think the Ravens are gonna be really, really good offensively. I’m glad Lamar got his money. He’s very deserving of this.”

The Ravens used their first pick in this year’s draft at No. 22 on Boston College wideout Flowers to join fellow receivers Rashod Bateman — a first-round pick in 2021 — Devin Duvernay, Nelson Agholor and nine-year veteran Beckham. 

Baltimore has four more picks left in the 2023 Draft: No. 86 (Round 3), No. 124 (Round 4), No. 157 (Round 5) and No. 199 (Round 6). The Ravens haven’t had a draft class of five players or fewer since the four-player 1999 class.

Skip Bayless was on the same page as Sharpe for the most part, but he questioned why the deal took so long to come to fruition and if Jackson will be able to get past all the turmoil now that things are official.

“I agree [that] the Ravens are going out of their way to do everything they can to help him and make him even more successful in throwing the football,” Bayless began. “They’re saying, ‘Our commitment is to you,’ yet they did not demonstrate a contractual commitment to Lamar until their backs got shoved up against the wall. 

“I just don’t know why you couldn’t have arrived at this kind of a compromise a long, long, long time ago. … You mentioned bad blood. There are rivers of it. I’m hoping for all involved that they can put it behind them, [but] I’m not sure Lamar can. … What they went through last year was about as ugly as it gets for a former MVP franchise quarterback versus management. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. … Lamar is a proud young man, in a very good way.”

Baltimore placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson on March 7, which would’ve paid the quarterback $32.4 million and allowed him to negotiate with other NFL teams on a new contract. If Jackson had agreed to a deal, Baltimore had the right to match the contract or receive two first-round draft picks from the team that offered it.

Jackson, 26, missed the last five games of the 2022 season due to a knee injury, the second consecutive season that he was limited to 12 games due to injury (he suffered an ankle injury in 2021). Across the 12 games that Jackson appeared in last season, he totaled 2,242 passing yards, 17 passing touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 91.1 passer rating, completing 62.3% of his passes. Jackson also ran for 764 yards and three touchdowns.

The 2018 first-round pick was named the league’s most valuable player after the 2019 season.

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