Signs Point To Ravens Re-Signing Lamar Jackson As Odell Beckham Heads To Baltimore

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When the Baltimore Ravens announced they had landed Odell Beckham Jr. Sunday afternoon it was interesting that they did so before the free agent wide receiver signed a contract.

The Ravens only had the word of a player who had earlier told the New York Jets he was visiting them on Monday and changed course, but the club stepped out and announced it had agreed “in principle” to a contract anyway.

Difference Between Beckham Agreeing and Signing

And the reason this distinction seem relevant is the contract does not hit the Ravens salary cap until after it is signed.

That’s important to the Ravens because according to multiple reports, Beckham agreed to a one-year deal worth $15 million with another $3 million in not-likely-to-be-earned incentives. So the $15 million, of which $13.835 is a signing bonus, would count against Baltimore’s cap in some form this season.

That’s noteworthy because the Ravens don’t have $15 million in cap space to fit Beckham under their cap. They have approximately $6.977 million in cap space, per the NFL Players Association latest report.

So how can a team with about $7 million in cap space fit a player signing a one-year $15 million contract?

It would take some three-dimensional salary cap chess by the Ravens.

Or they’re simply on the verge of signing Lamar Jackson to a new contract and that will create a ton of cap room as soon as that deal is signed.

The possibility of the latter is what makes the Beckham addition not just newsworthy but franchise defining for the Ravens.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham #13 of the Cleveland Browns shakes hands with quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens after the game at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 22, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Ravens defeated the Browns 31-15. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Ravens, Lamar Jackson Seem Headed To A Deal

Jackson currently counts for a whopping $32.4 million on the Baltimore salary cap because the team placed the franchise tag on him March 7.

Once Jackson signs his new contract — indeed, if Jackson signs a new contract with the team — the $32.4 million franchise tag number falls off and is replaced under the terms of the new deal. And that new deal, if smartly authored, could cut that $32.4 million salary cap charge by at least half depending on other bonuses and proration.

So the team would then have the necessary cap room to have Beckham actually sign his contract.

All of this is obviously connecting dots. No one has told OutKick that Jackson is soon signing back with Baltimore. No one has told anyone this is happening.

But sometimes if it looks like a Raven, and flies like a Raven, and steals your hot dog from your golf cart like a Raven, it’s probably a Raven.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – DECEMBER 04: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens warms up before the game against the Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium on December 04, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

Jackson and Ravens Had Issues

And, we admit, it makes sense if it doesn’t happen because Jackson and the Ravens have been somewhat at odds of late. Jackson, after all, requested a trade on March 2 after becoming frustrated by the contract negotiations.

And Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he wanted Jackson back for 2023 but couldn’t guarantee it would happen. That is perhaps a reason the Ravens have been doing a lot of homework on the quarterbacks in the coming draft class.

But Sunday’s announcement feels like the first of multiple moves that includes Jackson rather than a singular move to improve Baltimore’s receiver corps for … Tyler Huntley.

And, yes, there is a scenario in which the Ravens can clear all that Jackson salary cap space by trading the quarterback rather than signing him.

But that doesn’t seem likely based on the team’s and Jackson’s reactions to the Beckham signing.

It seems pretty clear the starting quarterback was fully aware of Beckham’s looming contract decision. And he seems quite thrilled about it.

Ravens social media picks up Lamar Jackson social media connection with Odell Beckham.

Chummy Situation Sunday evening

That’s Jackson’s latest Instagram post, which appeared Sunday evening. It is a screenshot of he and Beckham enjoying a facetime connection of some sort.

The Ravens captured the post and tweeted it.

Yeah, this feels like a quarterback being excited he’s got a new weapon and the team celebrating the union. This doesn’t feel like Jackson and the Ravens at odds and each doing their own thing.

It’s almost like they all know something is coming that hasn’t quite been fully completed yet.

That completion seems on its face to be Beckham and Jackson both playing in Baltimore.

Will receiver Odell Beckham Jr. sign with a new team? (Credit: Getty Images)
Odell Beckham Jr. agrees to terms with Ravens. (Credit: Getty Images)

Odell Beckham Shuns Jets

One more thing:

Beckham to the Ravens left the Jets at the free agent altar because multiple media reports had Beckham flying to New York on Sunday to meet with the Jets on Monday.


But, again, what we’re seeing might not be the full picture.

The truth is Beckham is a necessity for the Ravens because they have arguably one of the least accomplished receiver rooms in the AFC. So Baltimore is paying Beckham to be their No. 1 receiver.

He wouldn’t have been that for the Jets. He was going to be a luxury for the Jets — one that came with many unknowns.

Remember Beckham tore his ACL during the 2020 season and then returned in 2021 to tear his ACL again, this time in the Super Bowl. He then missed the entire 2022 season.

So at 30 years old he has had two ACL injuries two consecutive seasons and then missed another season. That makes him a risky addition, considering the $15 million price tag.

The Jets didn’t really need to take that risk because they have plenty of wide receiver talent. They have budding star Garrett Wilson, they added Allen Lazard in free agency, have Corey Davis, Denzel Mims and Mecole Hardman. Once they make the trade for Aaron Rodgers, it wouldn’t surprise if they add Randall Cobb, one of the quarterback’s best friends.

The Jets will be fine without Odell Beckham.

And the Ravens seem like they’re about to unite Beckham and Lamar Jackson.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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