Just when you thought the hype had died down, the hype is back with a vengeance. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson is expected to be a first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and the Cardinals appear poised to sign him to a rookie contract worth $26.9 million. However, it appears as though the school is being warned by NFL agents not to let Jackson get away with his antics.
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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is not afraid to take the high road. Jackson, a dual-threat quarterback, won the 2019 NFL MVP award by throwing for 36 touchdowns and breaking Michael Vick’s record for most rushing yards in a season among quarterbacks. But while he is already embroiled in difficult negotiations over a contract extension, he is adding to the uncertainty with questionable actions off the pitch.
Unlike most players, Jackson doesn’t have an agent. He will make a (relatively) modest $1.7 million this season, and the Ravens have already exercised an option on the fifth year of his rookie contract. Instead of an agent, Jackson and his mother negotiate a nine-figure contract.
Many experts believe Jackson is taking a risk of leaving money on the table, but he may be risking more than that by making poor decisions just weeks before training camp begins.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) throws a pass during the AFC Wild Card playoff game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on the 10th. January 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. | Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
Lamar Jackson has heard it all before. He heard it as a sophomore at Louisville, where he threw for 3,543 yards and 30 touchdowns and ran for 1,571 yards and 21 scores. All he deserved was the Heisman Trophy. He went on to total 3,660 yards passing and 1,601 yards rushing for a total of 45 points as a junior.
Bill Polian was the best personnel manager in the NFL, and because of those skills he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015. He built a Super Bowl-winning Buffalo Bills team and then a championship club, the Indianapolis Colts.
But he didn’t see Jackson as a quarterback and projected him as a wide receiver for the 2018 NFL Draft. And like many successful people, Polian didn’t give up when it became clear that Jackson would be a good quarterback.
In 37 starts and 46 NFL games, Jackson has completed 64.0% of his throws for 7,085 yards, 68 touchdowns and just 18 interceptions. Is he Drew Brees when it comes to accuracy? No. But it’s not Drew Lock either.
But it’s his decisions off the field that raise questions.
Lamar Jackson went viral after a video was released showing the former NFL MVP practicing as a defensive lineman and receiver. This training took place on an outdoor basketball court. That means asphalt, concrete or any other surface as unforgiving as the original artificial turf was at the time.
Without knowing who Jackson was up against, let’s face it. His form as a DB has been surprisingly good. He ended the run, caught the catcher off guard and did not allow a catch. There may have been unauthorized contact, but we can afford anything, right?
But given the number of strange injuries athletes suffer in the offseason, why would Jackson do that? If you’re the starting quarterback of an NFL team in the playoffs, you don’t have to take that risk. But when can you support yourself and your family with a gigantic contract for life? Don’t forget to wrap the bubble wrap from head to toe.
Lamar Jackson is an incredible athlete. We understand that. But don’t take hits in your leg that you don’t need.
Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson runs with the ball during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. | Michael Hickey/Getty Images
No, Lamar Jackson is not a prototypical quarterback. He is not a meter tall and stands bravely in his pocket in the face of a fierce attack. If you have nozzles like Jackson, you don’t have to wait like an idiot to get drilled.
He is 24 years old and has already been named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. His team has a 30-7 record in the games he starts. Defenders know Jackson is a running threat and overload the box. This opens up better, more accessible routes to find receivers and get them yards.
How’s the runner doing? The entire league knew what Jackson was doing last season after he burned defenders for 1,206 yards with 6.9 yards per pass. As opponents tried to stop him more and more, Jackson’s numbers dropped. And by drop, he means 1,005 yards on the ground with an average of 6.3 yards per carry. Yes, they showed it.
Indeed, Lamar Jackson is not a prototypical quarterback. But Jackson had a lot of success being someone else, so why change? Maybe just delay black track football for a while?
statistics provided by Pro Football Reference and Sports-Reference College Football.
COMPARED TO: Lamar Jackson’s contract isn’t the only financial problem the Ravens need to solve to keep their Super Bowl hopes alive
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