The football world has been waiting for Lamar Jackson to sign a contract extension with the Baltimore Ravens for more than a year now. But at the moment, less than two months away from free agency, nothing appears imminent.
Jackson and the Ravens paused negotiations during the 2022 campaign, but just prior to Baltimore's season opener, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported that the quarterback turned down an offer that included $133 million fully guaranteed on a six-year deal, because he felt he deserved the fully guaranteed money Deshaun Watson received from the Cleveland Browns ($230 million).
Jackson bet on himself, but his injury-plagued campaign adds another wrinkle to the contract situation. He missed five regular-season games and the Ravens' playoff loss at Cincinnati with a knee injury. And to make things even more complicated, Baltimore lacked consistent offensive production during its 12 games with Jackson in the lineup. Ultimately, the struggles led to a parting of ways between offensive coordinator Greg Roman and the Ravens.
There are more questions surrounding Lamar now than there were a year ago, but there's still no disputing he is one of the NFL's most electric players when healthy. The Ravens know what they have in the 2019 league MVP and two-time Pro Bowler. Head coach John Harbaugh said last week that Jackson is the organization's starting QB: "One hundred percent, 200 percent. There's no question about it." Now it's just a matter of getting the highly anticipated extension done.
In the meantime, while we continue waiting for that agreement to be consummated, I wanted to explore which other blockbuster deals should be in the offing this offseason.
Here are 10 more players -- five quarterbacks and five non-QBs -- who've earned fat, new contracts.
NOTE: Players are listed in alphabetical order.
Just last week, I wrote that Burrow is a lock to receive a long-term extension. Rapoport's reporting on Saturday and Burrow's performance on Sunday further cemented that notion. Burrow has helped transform the Bengals into an AFC juggernaut over the last two seasons, taking them to the Super Bowl a year ago and now having them set to play in a second consecutive AFC Championship Game this Sunday. Burrow's confidence in his physical abilities and winning mindset make him essentially unflappable. And his processing ability at the game's most important position is extraordinary. Cincinnati knows he's the kind of rare player who only comes around once in a blue moon, and that will be reflected in the big-money contract Burrow is poised to receive this offseason.
Battling through injury in 2022, the third-year quarterback led the Chargers to the postseason for the first time since 2018 -- and we've seen what this team is capable of when Herbert and his supporting cast are healthy. He has unquestioned talent and continues to get better every year, making him a player any organization would love to have for a decade-plus. Regardless of Los Angeles' soul-crushing playoff exit, Herbert still finished second in passing yards (4,739) and third in completion percentage (68.2). Exercising the fifth-year option this offseason's a no-brainer, but the Bolts might as well lock him up on a long-term deal. Herbert's remarkable skill set is worth every penny.
The 2020 second-round pick is the most underpaid player in the league with a 2022 cap figure of $1.6 million. Hurts faced questions about his long-term upside entering Year 3, and he answered them with MVP-caliber play while leading the Eagles to the NFC's No. 1 seed. Not only did he post sparkling regular-season statistics -- completing 66.5 percent of his passes for 3,701 yards and 22 TDs (against just six INTs) while rushing for 760 yards and 13 scores -- but his value was magnified by the two games he missed with a shoulder injury, both Eagles losses. Hurts has proven to be the right quarterback for Philly, taking the Eagles to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons -- with a chance to advance to Super Bowl LVII via a win this Sunday. The Eagles struck gold with Hurts and everyone in the organization knows it.
First-year head coach Brian Daboll did a masterful job at putting Jones in a position to succeed in 2022 by catering to the quarterback's skill set and giving him the confidence to execute in a simplified run-first offense. Jones thrived by cutting down on his turnovers and making plays in big moments. He finished the season with a career-best 67.2 completion percentage, throwing for 3,205 yards while posting a 15:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. On the ground, he added 708 yards and seven touchdowns. Jones helped the Giants hit the postseason for the first time since 2016, with Big Blue logging its first playoff win in 11 years. I still personally think there are questions on if he is a true franchise quarterback (see: New York's Divisional Round blowout loss), but the Giants believe in him. General manager Joe Schoen wants to re-sign the soon-to-be free-agent quarterback, so the remaining question is: Do the G-Men bring him back under the franchise tag (projected to be just north of $32 million for Jones in 2023) or on a multi-year deal?
Smith is one of this season's feel-good stories, as his resurgence at 32 years old has him squarely in the mix for Comeback Player of the Year. Nobody gave Seattle much of a chance to compete after last offseason's trade of Russell Wilson, but Smith deftly guided the Seahawks to the playoffs and made his first Pro Bowl. Not only did the veteran display strong leadership skills, but he led the NFL in completion percentage (69.8) and compiled a 30:11 TD-to-INT ratio. Geno threw at least two touchdown passes in 13 different games, including Seattle's postseason loss to San Francisco. The pending free agent made the most of his opportunity, and Seattle is expected to bring its veteran QB1 back for 2023, with GM John Schneider showering praise on Smith this week. Whether that's on the franchise tag or a new deal, Geno, who made $3.5 million in 2022, is set for a hefty, well-deserved raise.
Bradberry bet on himself in 2022, signing a one-year, $10 million deal with the Eagles after he was released from the cap-strapped Giants following two productive seasons in New York. The one-time Pro Bowler (who was snubbed this season) fit right in with the Eagles' talented defense and thrived opposite fellow veteran cornerback Darius Slay. The one-year deal has paid off swimmingly for both the Eagles and Bradberry, who had three interceptions (one returned for a TD) and 17 passes defensed during the regular season. Even if the Eagles don't re-sign him this offseason, plenty of other teams will be looking for an accomplished playmaker in the secondary.
There were a lot of things to like about Engram coming into the 2017 NFL Draft -- his speed and field-stretching ability, first and foremost -- and as the Giants' vice president of player evaluation at that time, I remember the excitement in the building when we drafted him in the first round. Engram never reached his potential in New York, struggling with drops and losing his confidence. But in 2022, his sixth pro season and first in Jacksonville, the tight end played with a ton of confidence and flourished under Doug Pederson and with Trevor Lawrence. Playing on a one-year deal, the hybrid playmaker recorded career-highs in receptions (73) and receiving yards (766) while adding four touchdowns for a Jaguars team that enjoyed a tremendous turnaround. There is no question Trent Baalke and Pederson are looking to retain him.
I lost track of the records Jefferson broke in the 2022 season. But if posting an all-time-best 4,825 receiving yards through a player's first three seasons isn't enough to merit a long-term extension this offseason, I'm not sure what is. A finalist for this year's MVP and Offensive Player of the Year awards, the 23-year-old superstar has done everything -- and more! -- for a Vikings team that's improve each year with Jefferson in tow.
After Amari Cooper's departure last offseason, there was a lot of pressure on Lamb to prove he could be the Cowboys' WR1 after piling up a total of 2,037 receiving yards and 11 touchdown grabs during his first two seasons. He passed the test with flying colors in 2022, with 107 catches (tied for fifth in the NFL), 1,359 receiving yards (sixth) and nine receiving TDs (tied for sixth). Dallas has a lot to address this offseason, but extending Lamb should be the easiest decision of the bunch.
I discussed last week that Wirfs is in line to earn a big-money extension this offseason after proving to be one of the league's best right tackles since being drafted in 2020. As a rookie, he was tasked with keeping the G.O.A.T. upright -- and he did just that, helping the Bucs win a Super Bowl. Over the past two years, he's earned a pair of Pro Bowl bids. To me, there's no denying his worth to Tampa's O-line -- and his next contract should prove as much.