During the course of Lamar Jackson's dramatic offseason, just about every prediction imaginable has been made regarding the future of the former NFL MVP.
Some believe Jackson will ultimately agree to a new deal with the Ravens. Others have theorized that he will come to a contract agreement with a different team after the Ravens placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on him. Lately, there's been growing buzz about a potential trade, which Jackson revealed this week he has requested.
But Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk presented a potential outcome in a Thursday column that no one has been talking about: Jackson's NFL career could be over.
From the column:
"He’s determined. He’s stubborn. If he doesn’t change his thinking, and if the Ravens and/or the rest of the league don’t either, what happens?
Here’s what could happen. And we need to at least keep an eye on this possibility.
Lamar Jackson may never play in the NFL again."
Florio believes that could be possible due to Jackson's stubbornness — he has not wavered about hiring an agent even in the midst of his contract negotiations and by all accounts has not backed down from his demand for a contract similar to that signed by DeShaun Watson with the Browns — and the fact that NFL owners seem to have dug their heels in about not shelling out that kind of guaranteed money.
"It’s not as crazy as it sounds," he writes. "It wouldn’t be a sudden and abrupt decision. A consciously and deliberate storming out. It would be the end result of a day-by-day process based on neither Jackson nor the Ravens ever giving in, and no other team ever making a serious run at acquiring his contractual rights."
If no other team negotiates a contract with Jackson or trades for him, which looks like it will be the case, his only option to play in 2023 will be with the Ravens. The two sides could still agree to a multi-year contract prior to July 17, but given that they have had more than a year to negotiate and haven't gotten very far, that doesn't seem particularly likely.
At that point, Jackson would have to agree to play on the franchise tag, which will pay him $32.4 million — less than the likes of Daniel Jones, Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr and Jared Goff. Jackson signing that tender seems like a long shot.
However, even if we get to the point that Jackson sits out the 2023 campaign, it seems logical that eventually either he will lower his asking price or another NFL team will meet it, or a combination of both. In a league that is desperate for star quarterbacks, it's hard to imagine no team making a run at a former MVP who is currently 26 years old. Jackson, meanwhile, should eventually realize that at a certain point, his best chance of getting the contract he wants is staying healthy and showing what he can do on the field.
The fact that the conversation around Jackson has even gotten to this point, though, illustrates how wild his offseason has been.
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