Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray wisely wasn’t going to play this year without a new contract. His wisdom manifested itself in a very unfortunate way.
A torn ACL has knocked him out for the balance of 2022 and significantly complicates his preparations and availability for 2023. Through it all, he has the full security of the long-term contract he negotiated earlier this year.
It was smart. It was prudent. He shifted the injury risk to the team. He can recover and rehab with limited stress. He parlayed his early-career success into long-term financial protection.
And Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson should be paying close attention. He should have his own long-term deal, right now. Whether in the form of the best offer the Ravens were willing to make or the best deal he could leverage by refusing to play for the Ravens and demanding a trade, he would be fully and completely protected against a serious injury.
Watch the attached video from Wednesday’s PFT Live. It makes our position clear. We want what’s best for Lamar. He needs someone to lay out the options in plain terms.
Technically, there are three of them. The first two are by far the best.
Option One: Negotiate the best possible long-term deal with the Ravens and take it, even if every penny isn’t fully guaranteed.
Option Two: Refuse to ever play for the Ravens again and demand a trade, which was Deshaun Watson‘s first step toward getting a five-year, fully-guaranteed deal from the Browns.
Option Three: Play under the franchise tag for two years and become an unrestricted free agent in 2025, also known as the Kirk Cousins Strategy.
Those are the choices. He’s not getting a Watson deal from the Ravens. To get that kind of contract, he has to either wait for unfettered free agency, two full seasons after the 2022 campaign ends, or he needs to force his way out and hope that a land rush will emerge for his services. He then needs to hope the situation can be engineered to get one of the teams to be so intent to get him that is willing to make that kind of an offer in order to seal the deal.
If he’s determined to secure a fully-guaranteed contract, it makes sense to refuse to play for the Ravens. If he’s not willing to potentially be the “bad guy” in Baltimore, then he should take the best offer they’ll make. Playing out the next two years entails significant physical risk, as we saw on Monday night.
And, yes, Jackson needs someone to explain these options to him. To negotiate with the Ravens. To set up a competition among other teams for his services, if it comes to that.
Some (specifically those with an anti-agent agenda and/or those who resent having to pay a one-to-three-percent commission to an agent for negotiating a contract) bristle at the suggestion that he needs an agent to make this happen. But here’s the truth. Lamar hasn’t made it happen without an agent — and it should have already happened by now.
The best way to make it happen is to hire an agent. Not flirt with hiring an agent in order to pick the agent’s brain for free advice. Make the full commitment. Ignore whatever it will cost. Sign the paperwork, sit back, and wait for results.
If Lamar Jackson wants a Deshaun Watson deal, Lamar needs to employ the Deshaun Watson strategy. That requires a good agent. And if a good agent pulls it off, the agent will have fully earned his or her fee.
The sooner Lamar does this, the sooner he’ll get the contract he earned months ago.