Falcons: Lamar Jackson sweepstakes reaches critical juncture

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The Lamar Jackson sweepstakes are set to get a lot more interesting over the next couple of days. The deadline for teams to place the franchise tag on players is 4:00 PM ET tomorrow. As of now, it looks highly unlikely the Ravens will come to a long-term extension with Jackson before the deadline. NFL insider Tom Pelissero confirmed that this morning, saying the two sides met in Miami and still remain far apart in negotiations.

Lamar Jackson will get franchise tagged tomorrow; it’s just a matter of which tag the Ravens will utilize. The exclusive franchise tag would lock Jackson up for one more year. However, there is a potential issue if Jackson refuses to play next year on a one-year deal, which must be considered after what just happened this past season.

The other option would be the non-exclusive franchise tag, which would allow the rest of the league to negotiate with Jackson. If he were to sign a deal, the Ravens could choose to either match the offer or collect two first-round picks as compensation.

It’s shocking that a 26-year-old former MVP could potentially hit the open market in the next 48 hours, but people around the league seem to believe there’s a legitimate chance Jackson could end up playing in a new uniform next year, and the Falcons are a team NFL insiders are keeping a close eye on.

The Ravens are one of the most well run organizations in all of sports. It’s hard to imagine them letting Jackson walk, but this all comes down to guaranteed money. Jackson wants a fully guaranteed contract, like the one Deshaun Watson received from the Browns last year, which was unprecedented. The Ravens haven’t offered anywhere close to that in negotiations, and they are gambling that there isn’t another organization out there that would oblige because Watson’s deal was such an outlier.

I think Baltimore couldn’t be more wrong. Some team will give Jackson the money he desires without blinking; at that point, the Ravens will have a decision to make. Give Jackson the guaranteed money he wants to keep him in Baltimore, or move on for two first-round picks. These will be a very interesting next few days in the Lamar Jackson sweepstakes.

Photographer: David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire

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