The Ravens have officially placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on quarterback Lamar Jackson, the first step in what might be the most pivotal offseason in franchise history.

By eschewing the more commonly used exclusive tag, the Ravens keep their star quarterback off the open market but give him an opportunity to pursue a contract with another team when free agency opens March 15. If Jackson, who represents himself in negotiations, signs with another team, the Ravens will have five days to match any offer sheet. If they decline, they would receive the signing team’s next two first-round draft picks.

It’s a significant bet for the Ravens, who must operate this offseason without knowing whether their starting quarterback will return — and at what price. It could also be a long time before a resolution is reached. Teams have until July 17 to agree with Jackson on a long-term deal, but he could wait as late as the Tuesday following Week 10 of the regular season to sign the franchise tender or another team’s offer sheet.

“We will continue to negotiate in good faith with Lamar, and we are hopeful that we can strike a long-term deal that is fair to both Lamar and the Ravens,” general manager Eric DeCosta said in a statement Tuesday. “Our ultimate goal is to build a championship team with Lamar Jackson leading the way for many years to come.”

Here’s a look at how Jackson’s franchise tag affects the Ravens’ roster-building decisions this offseason:

Salary cap space

By designating Jackson with the nonexclusive franchise tag, the Ravens must account for a salary cap hit of $32.4 million, the projected average of the top five quarterback salary cap hits over the previous year. With the league’s salary cap set at $224.8 million for the 2023 season, Baltimore would be tying up roughly 14% of its salary to Jackson for the right to match an offer sheet he signs with another team.

It’s a significant raise for the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player, who earned $32.7 million in his first five seasons in the league thanks in large part to the Ravens picking up his fifth-year option in 2022 at a cost of $23 million.

According to Over The Cap, the Ravens entered Tuesday with $22.5 million in cap space, which doesn’t account for Jackson’s salary or future expenses, such as draft picks. Teams have until 4 p.m. next Wednesday to get …read more

Source:: The Mercury News


How Lamar Jackson’s nonexclusive franchise tag affects the Ravens’ roster-building decisions

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