It was about nine months ago when Lamar Jackson wanted to be traded Baltimore Ravens. The best quarterback in the history of two forever linked franchises – the Ravens and the Cleveland Browns – was on the open market. Jackson is the only player other than Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes to win an NFL MVP since 2017. There was no clamor for the services of a player who excelled.
Jackson ended up signing a 5-year, $200-plus million deal with the Ravens. Christmas night they put out the red hot San Francisco 49ers, 33-19. The margin of victory of 16 points does not tell the whole story of the game. The Ravens intercepted the 49ers’ top NFL offense five times and allowed points on just three possessions. After a safety on their first possession, the Ravens scored on seven straight drives. Jackson passed for 252 yards, two touchdowns and led his team in rushing.
His performance on Monday night should propel him up back to top of the MVP conversation. It was one of many games in which he was in complete control. On a field with two other potential MVP winners — Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey — Jackson was clearly the better player.
A player who could have been on any of the other 31 teams in the league, had one of them made a strong push to get him. The Ravens initially placed Jackson on the non-exclusive franchise tag after last season. In exchange for two first-round picks, Jackson could have been acquired if the Ravens chose not to match a contract offer for him. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, none of the other teams made an effort to pick up Jackson.
There were several teams that made it known in March that they had no interest in him. It includes the Washington commanders and Atlanta Falcons. Commanders head coach Ron Rivera and Falcons team owner Arthur Blank both gave statements which shut down any thought that their teams would be interested in the 2019 MVP, less than a week after Jackson posted on Xwitter that he wanted to be traded. Both of those teams would have been among the best in the NFC with him behind center.
Starting quarterback is probably the hardest position to fill in the entire NFL. Yet no team has bothered to chase one of the best five in the world. I sob at the stench of collusion in the air, but it will never be investigated. Everyone got what they wanted in the end.
Jackson signed a deal in line with the top QBs in the NFL. That deal didn’t force the Ravens to make a market-shaking offer. The deal pays him more annually than Deshaun Watson receives, but doesn’t have nearly the guarantees. Watson’s deal was fully guaranteed, and the rumor was that Jackson wanted the same thing.
Signing Jackson to a deal that made him the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL — $2 million more per year than Russell Wilson — Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert both signed deals over the summer with little to no drama. They both make slightly more than Jackson, and the QB market was back on track.
With the regular season winding down, the Ravens have the best record in the NFL. The Chiefs traded away two of their best players before the trade deadline, and quarterback play is likely to cost the Falcons an NFC South title that was extremely winnable.
The NFL wins again.