Lamar Jackson’s “Letter to My Fans”

Kaylee Donnelly, Staff Writer

In light of the NFL starting the free agency for 2023, some controversies have arisen amongst transferring players. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson announced his request for a trade on March 27 over Twitter. 

Jackson has been the starting quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens for several years, leading the team to several playoffs and earning the award of NFL Most Valuable Player in the 2019 season. The Ravens have been one of the most successful teams these past years, with Jackson himself putting up a record of 45-16. 

Despite the genial tone of the beginning of Jackson’s tweet thanking his fans, the timing of the tweet reveals a serious element of discontent towards his former team. The tweet was sent out just seconds before Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh sat down with a slew of reporters. Jackson stated that as of March 2 he had requested to be traded from the Ravens organization and that the Ravens were not interested in meeting his “value.” 

The second that Harbaugh had taken a seat to speak with reporters at the NFL’s annual league meeting, he was met with questions about Jackson’s tweet. The coach stated that he hadn’t even seen the tweet yet, and that he was unaware of Jackson’s intentions. He also stated that he hadn’t talked to the quarterback in a few weeks. 

A free agent tag puts Jackson in a position where he’s free to negotiate with other franchises. Reportedly, last year Jackson turned down a hefty offer from the Ravens, in which he would have received $200 million in total guaranteed money if he remained on the roster until 2026. This included $133 million at signing, and $175 million for injuries. In this position, Jackson would have been the second highest ranking quarterback in terms of guaranteed deals, only behind Deshaun Watson.

If Jackson is able to negotiate with other teams, the Ravens will have to match the deal or get two first-round draft picks instead. However, Jackson’s tag as of right now does not give him free reign. His agent is not approved by the NFLPA, and therefore any team who negotiates a contract with an unapproved agent can be fined up to around $50,000.

If Jackson is not able to negotiate, he will have to play the 2023 season under Baltimore with a salary-cap of $32.4 million. 

With the tweet and the outstanding possibilities of Jackson’s status, Harbaugh remained put together in front of the press, deflecting questions easily and promising that negotiations were still underway. Despite commenting that he believed Jackson would still be quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens next season, five days after the press conference, the Ravens placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on Lamar Jackson. 

Jackson may still end up at Baltimore this upcoming season, but it’s clear that he’s looking for more than what the Ravens are willing to give him. With Jackson on the market and Baltimore still trying to hold on, more developments are bound to reveal themselves, especially given the nature of Jackson’s announcement and intention to leave the franchise.

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