Like Aaron Rodgers a year ago, Lamar Jackson’s future in the NFL will boil down to one thing

A year ago, when the Green Bay Packers were staring at their crossroads with Aaron RodgersThe impasse was supposed to be about everything but his contract.

Rodgers wanted more front office communication, more inclusion in team planning and more respect for the veterans who built the culture. All that, plus a huge side item to the league’s MVP: a reworked contract that made him Green Bay’s undisputed starter through at least the 2023 season and the distinction of being the highest-paid player in the NFL. When it was all over, the final tally was undeniable.

Whatever the short-term promises, the Packers front office can’t guarantee they’ll be resolved with flying colors with guaranteed money in the long run.

This is the format that will replace the file Impasse Between Lamar Jackson and Baltimore Crows. write it down page. Revisit it in weeks, months, years, however long it took to reach the inevitable number. That’s what it was like last September. That’s what it’s about now. And that’s what it would be like if Jackson eventually played the 2023 season under the franchise’s tag. Focusing on nothing else is a game of chance about the same problem.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (left) said Thursday:

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (left) said Thursday, “One hundred percent — you know, 200 percent. There’s no question about that. Lamar Jackson is our quarterback.” (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

That should have been the takeaway at Thursday’s press conference, when Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Eric DeCosta reaffirmed the same thing they’ve been saying since the beginning of these negotiations: They want Jackson to play quarterback for the Ravens long-term. . ; they want to complete a deal; And they are in no hurry to publicly elaborate on why all this has taken so long.

In a way, it was all treated as a news story, despite it being the exact position the organization had taken from the moment negotiations began. How do Definitely Is the team on which Jackson is the future quarterback? Well, let Harbaugh make some rhetoric to drive the point home again.

“One hundred percent — you know, 200 percent,” Harbou said Thursday. “There’s no doubt about it. Lamar Jackson is our quarterback. He’s been our quarterback. Everything we’ve done in terms of building our offense and building our team, and how we think in relation to the people around him, is based on this amazing young man and his talent and his ability and his competitiveness.”

Yes, if you’ve forgotten the ditties about hard work, communication and optimism, then on Thursday there will be no shortage of them. Just as there was no shortage of window dressing problems, it was Jackson who had input Next attack coordinatorto investing in a wide receiver depth chart, to perimeter offensive pieces poised for competition.

Sure, these are all good signs when it comes to Crows wanting Jackson back. But then again, the franchise never said that No They want Jackson back. What the Crows have said – over and over again – is that this is a difficult negotiation going on. The two sides did not reach an agreement. and that some contract talks are more difficult and take longer than others.

Thursday really was a one-sentence press conference that could have ended with DeCosta’s first line about his confidence in completing Jackson’s extension: “It sure takes two to tango.”

Right there. That’s it. That’s the message that this is in the same place it’s been since the beginning, with both sides staring at each other trying to figure out the exact contract number and set of guarantees that keep Jackson in the fold long-term.

The ways to solve this problem are as simple as they were in August. Baltimore Jackson could meet the total guaranteed money he’s after or Jackson could soften his stance on how close he got to an all guaranteed deal. If none of that happens, Baltimore could seek continued control of Jackson’s future with franchises and could either go for the ride or turn down and force a trade.

This has always been the way forward, with many bridges crossed along the way. This week, the negotiations pick up where they left off. Next month, the window opens for the team to place Jackson the exclusive franchise tag (likely resulting in a salary of around $45 million) or the non-exclusive tag (expected to be around $32.5 million). The exclusivity mark meant that Jackson could only negotiate with the Crows. A non-exclusive tag would allow Jackson to negotiate a free agent contract with other teams, then allow Baltimore to match the deal or receive two first-round picks as compensation.

This markup window opens on February 21st and extends through March 7th. This is a foregone conclusion.

Once he’s tagged in, the onus shifts to Jackson who makes a decision on what the move means and how he responds. Would he refuse to sign immediately to an exclusive label and stay away from the team the whole time? Probably yes. Would he negotiate a deal with another team if he was tied to a non-exclusive franchise? Also, probably yes. Is this all at a meaningful crossroads? at all.

One way or another, we will find out how difficult it was to bridge the gap between Jackson and the Crows. Either through the use of a particular sign or how Jackson responds to it. The key is no greater mystery than when negotiations stalled last September.

This is going down Rodgers Road. There will be a lot of sideshows, decisions, and clich├ęs about what’s important. Money remains the main attraction. Just as it always was.

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