Sources told ESPN the Ravens’ proposed contract was believed to pay Jackson a higher average salary and more guaranteed money than deals signed this summer by Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson and Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray.
Wilson signed a $242.5 million deal earlier this month that averaged $48.5 million annually and included $161 million guaranteed, about six weeks after Murray received a $230.5 million deal that averaged $46 million per year and included $189.5 million guaranteed.
But the issue for Jackson wasn’t Wilson’s deal or Murray’s so much as it was Watson’s, according to sources. The Browns signed Watson to a fully guaranteed $230 million contract, and Jackson wanted to match it, sources said.
Jackson acted as his own agent in the negotiations while leaning on the help of his mother and the NFL Players Association, whose job it is to offer stats, information, guidance and to be a sounding board, which it was during this process.
When the Ravens balked at Jackson’s wish for a full guarantee, the Ravens announced Friday that the sides were stopping contract talks and would resume them after this season.
Jackson, 25, will make $23.016 million in his fifth-year option but has no guaranteed money after this season. The former league MVP hopes to land an extension after this season with the Ravens, who are expected to apply their franchise tag on Jackson and prevent him from hitting true free agency if the sides still are unable to reach a deal.
Jackson is making the biggest bet in football on himself, not unlike the way former Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco — who is starting against Baltimore on Sunday for the Jets — once did in 2012 season, when his deal was set to expire and he led Baltimore to a Super Bowl title before becoming one of the highest-paid players in the NFL.
Jackson, who has taken more hits (737) than any other quarterback since 2018, was asked last week whether he feels it’s a risk to play with no guaranteed money beyond this season.
“It was a pretty big risk last season. The year before,” Jackson said Wednesday. “I’m just playing football. Anything can happen. God forbid the wrong thing happens.”
Jackson has proved to be one of the NFL’s top playmakers and winners over the past four seasons. Since he became the Ravens’ starter midway through the 2018 season, Baltimore is 37-12 (.755) with him and 2-5 (.286) without him. He was the unanimous NFL MVP in 2019.
But Jackson is coming off his most challenging season in 2021, when he threw a career-worst 13 interceptions and missed a career-high five games, including the last four because of an ankle injury.