Sheil Kapadia, The Ringer
They avoided disaster with Lamar Jackson.
The Ravens, who never seemed willing to match the deal the Browns gave Watson, played it well too, using the nonexclusive franchise tag as leverage. If another team signed Jackson to an offer sheet, the Ravens would have had the opportunity to match. But it became clear that the owners viewed the structure of the Watson deal as a one-off, not a precedent-setter, and Jackson didn’t have other serious suitors.
The Ravens’ new wide receiver group—veteran free agent addition Odell Beckham Jr., 2021 first-rounder Rashod Bateman, and 2023 first-rounder Zay Flowers—comes with both question marks and upside. Beckham is 30 and was out last year while he recovered from an ACL injury. Bateman missed 11 games in 2022. And Flowers is a rookie. But throw in tight end Mark Andrews, running back J.K. Dobbins, and a strong offensive line, and this could be the best supporting cast Jackson’s ever had. The biggest change for Jackson and the offense will be going from offensive coordinator Greg Roman to Todd Monken, whose job will be to breathe more life into the passing game.
The Ravens win games when Jackson plays. They are 45-16 in the regular season with him as the starter. Over the past three years, according to expected points added per play, the Ravens have had the sixth-best offense with Jackson and the 31st-ranked offense without him. The Ravens haven’t had playoff success with Jackson, and he’s missed 11 games over the past two seasons due to injury or illness, including Baltimore’s wild-card loss to the Bengals in January. But considering how rocky the start of this offseason was, things finally feel settled in Baltimore.
Breaking down Lamar Jackson’s new contract: What the deals tells us about the Ravens and their star QB
Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner
What’s unique about Jackson’s deal?
The contract not only includes a no-trade clause, which means the Ravens can’t trade Jackson without his consent, but also a no-tag clause, which could set up a free-agent bidding war in 2028. Unless the Ravens sign Jackson to another extension, they will have no other means of keeping him under contract beyond the 2027 season. Jackson’s no-tag clause, which until last week was a privilege afforded only to Prescott, also weakens the Ravens’ leverage in future negotiations.
Jackson’s contract includes two option bonuses, which function as additional signing bonuses. His 2024 option bonus of $17.5 million adds another prorated cap charge of $3.5 million to his 2025 hit, and his 2025 option bonus of $22.5 million bumps up the prorated option charge to $8 million through the remaining three years of his contract.
While Jackson’s 2024 offseason roster bonus is guaranteed, the three remaining annual bonuses of $750,000 are contingent upon Jackson completing 80% of the workouts in the Ravens’ offseason training program.
Jackson’s deal also includes two voidable years (2028 and 2029), which help reduce the cap hits of the prorated bonuses. Until this offseason, the Ravens had been largely reluctant to add “dummy years” to contracts, wary of their long-term risks. But with the Ravens first needing to make space for Jackson’s potentially outsize cap hit this offseason, and then with the rising salary cap likely to take the sting out of a back-loaded cap hit in Jackson’s megadeal, the void years became sensible options.
2023 NFL Draft class rankings: Eagles, Texans, Colts, Seahawks top the board with grades in the ‘A’ range
Eric Edholm, NFL.com
13. Baltimore Ravens
Grade: B- | Total picks: 6
With Lamar Jackson agreeing to a five-year extension hours before the draft began, last week was already deemed a success for the Ravens before they’d even made a single pick. That had to streamline the process significantly for GM Eric DeCosta and the rest of the front office to attack the trouble spots on the roster, which once again is that of a contender now that the QB1’s officially on board. I thought Baltimore might go with Maryland CB Deonte Banks at No. 22 overall, considering the need, but had no problem whatsoever with the selection of Zay Flowers. In fact, Flowers was my WR2 in this draft class, ranked 18th regardless of position. I love his shifty playmaking skills, which — dare I say — remind me somewhat of vintage Antonio Brown. I think the “Ravens can’t draft receivers” talk is due to subside once Flowers gets going, likely as a slot weapon.
Baltimore always does a nice job of marrying short-term need, long-term vision and draft value, and the Trenton Simpson pick was a reflection of that. The highly athletic linebacker wasn’t my favorite player to scout, but he was absolutely worth the No. 86 overall pick and could play a number of roles in time, assuming Simpson can’t beat out Patrick Queen at some point this season. Tavius Robinson has taken a fascinating path to where he is now and looks like the kind of long, somewhat-twitchy rush end the Ravens like to target and groom over time. Kyu Blu Kelly has decent length, NFL bloodlines (son of former Bucs DB Brian Kelly) and is mature enough to crack the CB rotation early in his career. The final two picks were long-term investments in the offensive line.
Fifth-Year Option Tracker: Analyzing the most interesting decisions, including Chase Young and Jordan Love
Brad Spielberger, PFF
PFF grade, 2020-22: 44.5 (120th/144)
PFF WAR, 2020-22: 0.10 (84th)
Fifth-year option amount: $12,722,000 (Playtime escalator)
PFF Prediction: Exercise
The Ravens traded for former Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith at this past year’s deadline and subsequently made him the highest-paid player at his position early in the offseason, which made this an interesting decision. Queen took a major step forward in 2022, earning a 70.0 overall grade and racking up 24 quarterback pressures and five sacks. However, it’s interesting to note that his grades received a boost following Smith’s arrival. Baltimore still seemingly began to move on from Queen in their mind once making the blockbuster acquisition at the trade deadline.
Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic
The Ravens seem content with the idea of starting Marlon Humphrey and Ya-Sin. Humphrey can play either outside or inside, giving Baltimore some flexibility when three corners are on the field. The Ravens could then hope that one of their youngsters in Jalyn Armour-Davis, Trayvon Mullen, Damarion Williams or Kyu Blu Kelly — or veteran Daryl Worley — can win the No. 3 cornerback job. Safeties Kyle Hamilton, Brandon Stephens and Ar’Darius Washington are also options in the slot.
If they don’t like what they see in practice over the next month, they can always turn back to Peters, assuming he’s still available, and/or Fuller, who is recovering from a season-ending knee injury.
Veteran free-agent safety Adrian Amos visited the Ravens over six weeks ago, and there still appears to be mutual interest. Amos is a Baltimore native who grew up idolizing Ravens Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed, so a homecoming to play on a high-quality defense would seemingly have some appeal. However, Amos, who hasn’t missed a start in five straight seasons and has only missed four games in his eight-year career, has other options, including a return to Green Bay. Ultimately, it will come down to the contract and the role. How much will the Ravens be willing to pay when they have a few other depth needs with limited cap space to fill them, and how would they utilize Amos alongside projected starting safeties Marcus Williams and Hamilton? It would be easy to say the Ravens already have enough depth at safety, but adding Amos would allow them to use Hamilton more in matchup situations and in the slot. In a way, it would be almost like adding another corner.