The Baltimore Ravens should know this quote well, since the highly-acclaimed show “The Wire” was filmed and set in Charm City.
“One more thing,” kingpin Marlo Stanfield says at a meeting. “Price of the brick goin’ up.”
Former MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson would be justified in feeling this way during his own contract negotiations, especially after Deshaun Watson’s $230 million fully guaranteed deal with the Cleveland Browns.
And it appears Jackson does.
A fan tweeted this week that the Ravens should give Jackson $250 million. Another fan responded that Baltimore already offered that, and he wants more.
“No they didn’t,” Jackson tweeted from his verified account.
So it’s clear what Jackson feels he deserves. And he’s not the only one.
“Absolutely he deserves that type of money,” said former NFL wide receiver Bennie Fowler, who played with Peyton and Eli Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady in his career. “When you have that quarterback who can dominate a game, that’s totally different. You’re now in that rare air.
“Lamar Jackson’s a game-wrecker,” Fowler continued on the “Talkin’ Ball with Pat Leonard podcast.” “There’s only a handful of quarterbacks I would say they can wreck a game: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, [Matthew] Stafford. These are game-wrecker quarterbacks.”
We’ll take it a step further: Jackson might be the most entertaining player to watch in the entire NFL, which is the most popular sport in this country.
Lamar Jackson, who is negotiating without an agent, still waiting for a contract extension from the Baltimore Ravens. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun)
His Week 14 Monday Night Football heroics in 2020, when he ran out of the locker room on fourth down to throw a 44-yard touchdown to Marquise Brown, is just one example of why he’s so unique and electric.
There is one problem, though: the last two quarterback contract extensions have treated Watson’s $230 million guaranteed as an outlier, not a precedent for future deals.
Kyler Murray’s $230.5 million extension with the Arizona Cardinals includes only $103.3 million fully guaranteed at signing, per overthecap.com, and initially included a ‘homework clause’ tied to his work ethic.
Russell Wilson’s $245 million extension with the Denver Broncos, signed this week, includes only $124 million fully guaranteed at signing.
Now in Jackson’s defense, none of these contracts should be treated as directly comparable to his situation to lower his value.
Murray isn’t close to the player Jackson is. Wilson is 33, with no MVPs and one Super Bowl, while Jackson is 25 with an MVP still chasing his first ring. And Watson doesn’t belong in the same sentence as any of those men for many reasons.
Clearly in the end, both the NFL and NFL players’ union are both going to point at the Cleveland Browns’ ownership for making a glaring mistake and misjudgment in giving Watson that money.
Sure, if the goal is to avoid paying more players that kind of money or to manage realistic expectations, depending on which side of the table they’re on.
But no one should begrudge Jackson believing he’s owed more guaranteed money than Watson got.
This doesn’t mean he absolutely needs an agent, either. One source said Jackson’s rookie contract was done well by Jackson’s side, despite not being completed with an agent. Jackson’s mom is among his close advisors.
The tightrope Jackson did walk, perhaps unwisely, was arriving at this fifth and final year of his rookie contract without a new deal. From a security standpoint, this is an enormous risk.
His salary jumps from $3 million last season to $23 million this fall, but that still puts him $10 million behind Detroit’s Jared Goff on average annual value, for example.
It will be fascinating to see how Jackson proceeds in the next few days. He set Week 1 as his deadline to cut off negotiations with or without a deal.
Some believe he’s going to play out the year, with the Ravens holding the franchise tag as a method of future control, and revisit this after the season. He can purchase his own insurance on his career and earnings.
There’s also the thought that he could accept a short deal with higher guarantees to come close to Aaron Rodgers’ league-high $50 million average.
A four-year, $200 million fully guaranteed contract, for example, could get Jackson to free agency earlier with high guarantees, while protecting Baltimore by avoiding a long-term commitment (though it’s not clear why they’d want to do that).
Regardless, the price of the brick goin’ up. And it should.
JIMMY G IS … BACK?!
It was so certain that quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t returning to the 49ers that he wasn’t even practicing with the team recently. But with no lucrative trade opportunities available, Garoppolo unexpectedly took a paycut this week from Niners GM John Lynch to remain as San Francisco’s backup quarterback to Trey Lance.
“There was a thought of [asking to be released] at one point, trust me, there was,” Garoppolo said. “But that came and went. Things just kept falling into place. I’m one of those people that I don’t really want to ruffle the feathers too much … and kind of just want to go with the flow. Things worked out. I’m happy now.”
Bringing Garoppolo back seems like a hedge against Lance’s ability to excel and/or stay healthy, though Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan said this is Lance’s team now and that was reiterated during this negotiation.
The 49ers might be able to get better trade value for Garoppolo at the deadline in-season, too, so this buys some time. And in the meantime, the 49ers are a better team with Garoppolo as their backup. He’s taken them to two NFC title games and a Super Bowl berth in the last three years.
FOOTBALL IS HERE
The reigning Super Bowl champion L.A. Rams will host the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night in the NFL’s 2022 season opener. Both teams have been under the microscope recently.
The Bills recently released rookie punter Matt Araiza after allegations of rape surfaced in court, an embarrassing situation for Buffalo GM Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott. The accuser’s attorney Dan Gilleon said the Bills had “ignored” the claim initially when contacted.
Beane said the Bills were unaware of the allegations when they picked Araiza in the sixth round out of San Diego State and that this was “bigger than football.”
The Rams, meanwhile, have been mum about how they are disciplining star defensive tackle Aaron Donald for dangerously swinging helmets at Bengals players during a joint practice brawl. “The incident will be addressed internally, and any discipline will remain in-house,” the team said.
GRUDEN BACK IN THE NEWS
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This week, former Raiders coach Jon Gruden called the hateful emails that got him fired last October “shameful” but insisted he’s a “good person” who asks “for forgiveness.”
“I am ashamed about what has come about in these emails,” Gruden said at the Little Rock (Ark.) Touchdown Club. “And I’ll make no excuses for it. It’s shameful. But, I am a good person, I believe that. I go to church. I’ve been married for 31 years. I’ve got three great boys.
“I still love football,” he continued. “I’ve made some mistakes, but I don’t think anybody in here hasn’t. And I just ask for forgiveness, and hopefully I get another shot.”
Gruden was also in the news recently because UFC president Dana White revealed that Gruden, when he was coaching Vegas, had nixed a plan to bring Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski to the Raiders.
“Yeah it’s true,” White said at a press conference. “I talked Brady into playing for the Raiders. And Gronk was coming with him. And they were negotiating the deal and they were really close to getting it done, and then Gruden pulled the deal. And Brady was not happy about it. Neither was I. And that’s that. He went to the Buccaneers and won the Super Bowl.”
Scott V. Spina Jr., 25, of Roseland, N.J., was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison this week for posing as a former player for the New England Patriots. That allowed him to buy family versions of the team’s 2016 Super Bowl championship ring — supposedly as gifts to relatives of quarterback Tom Brady — one of which sold at auction for more than $337,000. A U.S. District judge also ordered Spina to pay $63,000 in restitution to a former Patriots player who sold him his Super Bowl ring and other memorabilia. The Department of Justice released a full summary of the case’s findings and verdicts.
THEY SAID IT
“It’s not really hard to get hurt.” — Giants wideout Kadarius Toney, who battled injuries as a rookie and didn’t play in the preseason, but says he’s ready for Week 1