On the first Sunday of the regular season, ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen reported that Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson rejected a contract offer that would have paid him $133 million fully secured upon signing. Most recently, ESPN analyst Ryan Clark I mentioned the same thing.
Here’s what we said in September, as it still applies: “The report contains some loopholes that make full valuation of the offer impossible. What will be the cash flow for the first year? How much of the contract was injury guaranteed? How much injury guarantee would have turned into full guarantee in March 2023, where is there no way they would have cut him off just a year later, given all they were going to pay him in 2022?”
It is impossible to fully evaluate a transaction without knowing its full value. Every payment, every guarantee, every maturity deadline, every incentive, every escalator, every lift, every workout bonus, every listing bonus, every option bonus, every listing bonus per game, and every other device through which money flows team to play.
It’s also irrelevant at this point. Circumstances have changed. Jackson’s rookie contract has expired. He finished the season with an injury that caused him to miss more than several games, for the second year in a row.
Will the crows make the same offer now? Will they offer more? Will they offer less?
Are they content to let Lamar test the market under the non-exclusive franchise label? Will they match someone else’s offer? Would they be willing to take a pair of first-round picks instead? Would they trade it in for something less than two?
These are the important questions now. Hearing again (and likely again) that he was offered $133 million fully guaranteed upon signing means nothing in isolation, and it means even less so as time goes on.
Therefore, unless Lamar, the NFL Players Association, or the Ravens are willing to disclose the full contents of any offers made, it is impossible for anyone to consider a deal good or bad, fair or unfair, satisfactory or unsatisfactory. While this won’t stop people from reporting imperfect facts about negotiations, past or present, those who see the information should remember that there is no way to judge the perfect deal without knowing (spoiler alert) the whole deal.
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