From a draft night fall to a draft night mega-deal, in five years: NFL world reacts to stunning Lamar Jackson contract

Published 4/27/2023 5:30 p.m. EDT, Updated 4/27/2023 7:55 p.m. EDT

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 13: Head coach John Harbaugh interacts with Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens prior to playing against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on October 13, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Three weeks ago, prior to today’s breaking news that Lamar Jackson secured his bag with a record-breaking contract extension, we convened an unofficial panel of people connected to the pro sports space to talk about Lamar Jackson’s ongoing contract negotiation saga.

The chatter at that point was deafening, so we wanted to have some conversations with folks who are intimately familiar with the business of sports from varying angles.

“If Lamar had an agent, the deal would have been done already! What kind of idiot negotiates an NFL contract on their own and without an agent???”

“The owners are colluding against him to stabilize the quarterback market!”

“Lamar should wake up and just take what the Ravens offered months ago!”

“The relationship is over, Lamar’s trade request ended it!”

“He’s not worth the money. He’s not an accurate passer and his playing style lends itself to injury!”

I’m sure you heard all of the permutations of the aforementioned comments, and then some. That’s why I was interested in speaking with Leigh Steinberg a few weeks ago to get his perspective. The legendary sports agent was prescient and precise in his analysis of the situation and how it would eventually play out.

“It would be extremely bizarre for Lamar Jackson, a young quarterback who was the MVP of the league with a team that’s been very happy with him, and they’re going to trade him? I think the eventual play-out is that cooler heads will prevail, they’ll work out a long-term deal for him, and that Lamar Jackson will be playing quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens for years to come,” Steinberg told us.

And he was spot-on.

Today, Lamar agreed in principle to a five-year contract extension that’s expected to make him the highest-paid quarterback and player in the league. Terms of the deal, which will run through 2027, are being reported as follows — $260 million with $185 million guaranteed with an average annual value of $52 million per year.

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Ravens fans, in addition to breathing a huge sigh of relief, are celebrating the fact that the team has retained its revolutionary talent at the quarterback position, while also adding star receiver Odell Beckham and possibly DeAndre Hopkins to his arsenal of weapons.

The jubilance among the Ravens flock is palpable right now, with the news overshadowing any final mock draft negotiations.

As someone who followed Lamar’s trajectory ever since his freshman year at the University of Louisville, I’m in full agreement with ESPN NFL Analyst Mina Kimes that “Five years after he sat in the green room with his mom, watching the picks go by as he fell in the draft ... hard not to get emotional. What a player. What a story.”

What a player and what a story, indeed.

Ravens fans and teammates aren’t the only ones happier than a kid in a candy store with a pocketful of money right now. Can you imagine how the General Manager and front office are feeling right now?

Among those who are not celebrating are some in the NFL agent community, with former league executive Joe Banner saying that he never thought Jackson was making a mistake in representing himself.

The star signal-caller maximized his value much more than if an agent had negotiated an extension after the third year of his rookie contract, which is par for the course for star young quarterbacks.

Lamar’s not only changing the game on the field, he seems to be leading for players taking control of their own destinies.