Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray, both seemingly stronger after an offseason of work, were looking great in their clean uniforms as they preened for the cameras on media day on different sides of the country Monday.
Jackson, who has skipped all of the Baltimore Ravens offseason program while working out in his native South Florida, showed up at that team’s facility much to the glee of the organization and teammates as mandatory minicamp begins on Tuesday.
“What’s going on, guys?” Jackson said in a video the team put on social media. “I’m back at the king’s castle. I hope you’re ready for the season ’cause I’m surely is …”
Murray, sporting bigger arms than in the past, also had his session in front of the camera at the Arizona Cardinals facility and also will be present for that team’s mandatory minicamp.
And this is where I tell you these two quarterbacks who share the burden of carrying their franchises are headed in curiously different directions with their contract situations.
The contrasts are stark.
Murray, in the final year of his rookie contract before the guaranteed fifth-year option kicks in for 2023, is eager to get a new deal. He wanted one back in February and manifested some dissatisfaction it wasn’t done then.
And this approach has worked because talks between Murray’s agent and the club are reportedly ongoing and everybody expects a new deal before training camp begins in late July.
Jackson, meanwhile, hasn’t been quite so aggressive. In fact, he’s being kind of the opposite of aggressive throughout the process.
Jackson hasn’t hired a formal agent per se, although he has advisors. Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta has said Jackson, scheduled to play on his fifth-year option, hasn’t been interested in engaging in contract talks and the team will work “at Lamar’s urgency.”
The amazing thing about these vastly different approaches to getting a second contract?
Both are working.
The Cardinals have basically promised Murray they have a timetable for getting his new deal done and that is sometime this summer. So anytime between now and training camp.
And Murray has been pleased enough with his agent’s reports from the negotiations that he’s stepped off the ledge he was on in March when he scrubbed his social media of all mentions of the Cardinals.
Indeed, Murray has let it be known he’s not even thinking about the contract that much anymore but rather only thinking about winning championships for Arizona.
The Cardinals have privately let it be known Murray is their guy while players have rallied around him as their present and future leader.
“If you think Kyler is not our future, you’re a fool,” left tackle D.J. Humphries told reporters last week. That’s our quarterback.”
And then the knockout punch: “You need to stop that day drinking,” Humphries added.
So Murray is going to get paid. He might not reach the $50 million stratosphere Aaron Rodgers is orbiting, but he’ll likely eclipse $40 million per season because the Cardinals understand if they keep waiting the price rarely goes down.
Jackson, you must know, is coming off his worst and perhaps most frustrating NFL season.
There are those who know him from his high school days in Pompano, Florida, that believe his “chill” approach to the contract situation is because he knows he’s getting paid but felt bad about seeming to be demanding anything after a bad season.
Demanding a big contract after a great season is much more to Jackson’s liking.
And the statistics and situation were indeed not kind for the quarterback in 2021. Jackson threw 16 touchdown passes in 2021 — his lowest total since his rookie year.
He threw 13 interceptions — the highest total of his career — and his 87.0 quarterback rating was the lowest since his rookie season.
But the irony is that amid these struggles, it became clear to the Ravens they are not very good without Jackson. He missed most of six games and Baltimore lost five of those.
So Baltimore was 7-4 in games Jackson started and finished, and 1-5 in games he didn’t.
There’s a word for that in the English language: Leverage.
So where is this one going to end up? It ends up with Jackson also getting a new contract whenever it is he finally engages with the team.
That might be after this minicamp although he’s not hurting for cash. Jackson, 25, is scheduled to make $23.016 million this season. If he’s unsigned after the season, he understands the Ravens will utilize the franchise tag and pay him another huge guaranteed sum in 2023.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero