Lamar Jackson And Ravens Dealing With Multiple Issues From Contract To Franchise Tag To New Offense

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The Lamar Jackson situation with the Baltimore Ravens feels something like a rap song. Because the sides are dealing with what seems to be 99 problems.

Specifically …

Jackson has been considering the next move in his contract talks with the team, which by the way, have not been going as he would like and have at times frustrated him, according to a source.

It’s likely the quarterback will simply do nothing other than stand on his demand that Baltimore gives him a fully guaranteed five-year contract. At least for now.

The Ravens, meanwhile, are trying to make things acceptable for Jackson and definitely for themselves but so far have refused to give one of the NFL’s best players that fully guaranteed deal.

BALTIMORE, MD – DECEMBER 4: DeShawn Williams of the Denver Broncos sacks Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens during the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Sunday, December 4, 2022. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Ravens Wary Of Guaranteed Jackson Deal

The team’s reticence is linked to half-a-dozen reasons to which there lately has been the added concern that Jackson has had durability issues the past two seasons.

Amid this back-and-forth the sides are also weighing what to do with the franchise tag that almost definitely looms in the next two weeks.

It’s a salary cap and negotiation tool that both sides despise because Lamar Jackson sees it as something of an insult, as it shows little trust in him long-term. And the Ravens see it as a necessary evil to protect their interests — but an evil nonetheless because it would hamper their entire salary cap structure.

All this is happening concurrently while rumors of a potential Jackson trade swirl in the media — smoke suggesting there is a fire afoot.

And, oh, by the way, the Ravens are also in the process of making a nearly top-to-bottom change in their offense.

That’s a new system Jackson would have to learn and run in the regular season despite the fact he likely will not show up to any voluntary offseason work with the team if Baltimore uses that franchise tag on him.

So, yes, 99 problems.

ATLANTA, GA – SEPTEMBER 03: Georgia Bulldogs Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken looks on during warmups before the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game between the Oregon Ducks and the Georgia Bulldogs on September 03, 2022, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga.(Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Todd Monken Brings New Offense For Ravens

So what does it mean?

Let’s start with the football portion of this busy situation:

The Ravens have decided the run-heavy offense they forged before the 2019 season needed to be scrapped. Opposing teams didn’t exactly catch up to the system, but it was no longer so unfamiliar that teams struggled to prepare for it.

So offensive coordinator Greg Roman moved on and Todd Monken, fresh off consecutive national title wins at the University of Georgia, was hired as the offensive coordinator.

The idea now is to marry some of what the Ravens did the past few years, particularly in their run game, and add an updated pass game with that.

The Ravens basically want to bring their caveman brand of physical football into the space age.

 “I think players want to play in a game that spaces the field,” Monken said at his introductory press conference Tuesday. “I think when you go into an install meeting, all of your skill players want to say, ‘Where are my opportunities coming? Where am I going to get a chance to touch the football and showcase my ability?’

“And I think the more you’re able to do that and utilize that … Because to me, balance isn’t run-pass; balance is make them cover all five of your guys; make them defend the field; make them defend the depth of the field.”

NEW ORLEANS, LA – NOVEMBER 07: Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of the game at Caesars Superdome on November 7, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Lamar Jackson Unlikely To Love Tag

Monken talks about making teams defend every blade of grass and utilizing the field’s width as well as depth.

So the Ravens should look different on offense. And if everything was exactly right, with Jackson signed and committed to joining the offseason work, this could be exciting because Monken believes the quarterback is “elite.”

“He has an elite skillset,” Monken added. “It’s obvious when you watch him on film, the things he can do with the football and the plays that he makes. I think he’s underrated as a passer in terms of his ability to make plays and throw it down the field.

“So, you’ve all seen it. I’m like you; I’m no different than you. I watch what you guys watch, and it’s pretty amazing.”

The problem is the Jackson situation is unsettled. That stokes the trade-talk possibility.

Think about it, what if the Ravens franchised Jackson and traded him to Chicago for the No. 1 pick in the draft? You don’t think the Bears would take Jackson over Justin Fields?

That is speculation. This isn’t:

If Jackson isn’t signed and isn’t traded but does get tagged, what happens after he misses the entire offseason and only shows up for the start of the regular season?

“Sure, he’ll be behind, but it’s still just football,” Monken said. “I think sometimes we make this out to be way too much. It’s just football…We’ll cater to what he knows, and play.”

Sounds simplistic and not realistic. Because many other factors threaten to ruin the situation for Jackson and the Ravens.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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