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The Baltimore Ravens seemed to be in something of a tough situation with their best player on offense and one of their best players on defense unsigned beyond this season. That seemed to be made more difficult because both players represented themselves in contract negotiations.
And players repping themselves is a real pain for some NFL teams.
But the Ravens just proved they can manage the obstacles of dealing with that delicate situation by striking a deal with Pro Bowl linebacker Roquan Smith.
The contract length of five years has been confirmed to OutKick through a source advising Smith in the negotiations, but not the contract’s worth. The NFL Network reported the deal is worth $100 million with $45 million fully guaranteed.
Roquan Smith Gets 5-Year Deal
This is interesting if the figures are accurate.
Because the Ravens are willing to pay an their off-the-ball linebacker $20 million on an annual average, making him the first player at his position to reach that mark.
And they’re willing to fully guarantee 45 percent of the deal to lock in a player vital to the improvement of a defense that went from 20th in points allowed prior to Smith’s arrival in the middle of the season to 2nd since.
But this could bring repercussions with the Lamar Jackson situation.
Jackson, Baltimore’s quarterback and best player, earlier this season rejected a contract offer that fell short of what he believed to be his worth. Jackson turned down a deal worth over $250 million.
But of that, a reported $133 million was fully guaranteed. And Jackson, representing himself, wants every penny of the $250 million-plus deal to be fully guaranteed.
Ravens And Lamar Jackson Contract Issues
So here we are.
The Ravens can say they are able to deal with a player that represents himself because they just did that with Smith.
And they’re able to say they’re willing to pay a premium for outstanding players because they just made a record deal for their linebacker.
The Smith deal also gives the team the option of using the franchise tag on Jackson.
But for Jackson, this deal might have a different feel. He might decide he should have been the team’s priority.
He might decide the club guaranteeing 45 percent of Smith’s contract is proof his should be 100 percent guaranteed because 1.) He’s the quarterback and more important to the success of the team. 2.) He’d probably get his asking price if he were with a new club, as Smith found out after being traded.
The entire picture also begs the question whether the Ravens intend to actually use the franchise tag on Jackson. That could cost the team upwards of $45 million in 2023 and the Ravens are scheduled to have in the neighborhood of $52 million worth of space in total.
The one-year franchise tag counts against the salary cap in total without proration to other years.