Lamar Jackson should just ask for the Josh Allen deal

When news first broke of the contract given to quarterback Josh Allen by the Bills, one of my first questions was whether quarterback Lamar Jackson or the Ravens should or would want the exact same contract to solve their situation. Once the details became available, I developed an opinion on the matter: Jackson should want the same deal.

Specifically, Jackson should ask for the identical eight-year, $284 million contract, structured and paid the exact same way. With Lamar making $24.8 million over the next two years (less than the $26 million Allen was due to make), that’s a new-money commitment of $259.2 million over six year, equating to an average of $43.2 million. (That puts him ahead of Allen’s $43 million new-money average.)

For Jackson, the $100 million full guarantee at signing would be actually $100 million; Allen’s guarantee technically includes a $2.6 million roster bonus that he earned upon reporting for camp. (That’s a device for managing offsets in the out year of his contract, so it’s basically salary paid out in advance. Still, the full guarantee under the contract was $97.6 million, since the $2.6 million already had been earned by Allen.)

The other elements favor Jackson, specifically cash flow over the next three years ($95.2 million) and four years ($125 million). Three full years and $6 million of the fourth year are fully guaranteed at signing. Also, the “guarantee mechanisms” also give the player essentially two years of financial security in the later years of the deal.

Of course, Jackson ideally should want the Dak Prescott contract, since it pays out $160 million over four years with a structure that essentially compels a restructuring after three season, or else the player will become an unrestricted free agent after the deal ends, with the remainder of the contract (for cap purposes) voiding too late for the player to be tagged. But Prescott got that contract after finishing his rookie deal and completing one season under the franchise tag; he had no existing contract years. The Ravens surely would never consider replacing the final two years of Jackson’s current deal with a four-year contract. That would make it a measly two-year extension.

Also, given the amount that Jackson is due to earn over the next two years, the Dak deal would result in a staggering new-money average of $67.6 million if given to Jackson now.

So, no, the Dak deal won’t be happening for Lamar Jackson. But the Allen deal should. Although Allen became a superstar last year, Jackson has won an MVP award, and he has had more sustained success than Allen. Moreover, the Ravens have built the offense around Jackson in the same way the Bills have built their offense around Allen. Arguably, the Baltimore offense needs Jackson more than the Buffalo offense needs Allen.

Complicating matters is the fact that Jackson doesn’t have an agent. But no agent should be necessary for Jackson to pose a simple question to the Ravens: Why shouldn’t I get the same contract that Josh Allen just received?

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