Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson & Jori Epstein discuss Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, who will likely miss Sunday night's Wild Card matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. Jackson is embattled with the team on a contract extension. Charles and Jori explain why the offseason negotiations between the two parties could get complicated in a much worse way than similar extensions for QBs like Dak Prescott and Kyler Murray.
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CHARLES ROBINSON: Far less juice in these games, losing two quarterbacks, Lamar Jackson who will not play for the Baltimore Ravens against the Cincinnati Bengals and Tua Tagovailoa who will also not appear versus the Buffalo Bills, two storylines that I think are both concerning for each franchise but for different reasons. You know, I know we've got to look at the games here. But it's hard to focus on either of those situations and not think about what could potentially mean for the future, what we're being told, and what we can believe.
I want to start first with Baltimore and Cincinnati and the Lamar Jackson news, because I think this is-- I'm going to end up writing something about this. The contract situation, all of this is going to be focused optically through that regardless of what the team says about the knee injury.
Every time Lamar Jackson tweets anything, sort of, a congratulatory tweet yesterday to Roquan Smith for securing the bag, there's this constant deciphering of what does all this mean. Like, what does this Mean? Is this about the contract? Is this a Holden? Is this real?
Is he dragging his feet? And you know, this is-- I feel like this is what everybody asked for when this contract situation, kind of, dragged out. Jori, Dak went through a protracted contract negotiation with Dallas. And at times, it was not the cleanest situation. But often, it was focused, through his agent Todd France, Lamar Jackson because of the fact that he does not have a prominent agent doing a prominent quarterback contract. It seems to be focused more through him.
Is this situation-- I mean, look, it takes some steam out of this game. I'm just wondering, what does this mean in the offseason? Like, is this-- are we just waiting for the announcement that Lamar is going to get tagged, but he's not going to show up for anything, and then we go through the traditional, kind of, strife in contract negotiations?
JORI EPSTEIN: Yeah. I think it's a good question. And as you mentioned, like, you can't view the injury where he is ready to play without thinking about the long term implications. And also as you're mentioning with the agent, like, we're not going to hear things leak out in the same way because there's not someone on that side to leak it out.
I think that, like, the difference here is that, I mean, in terms of what I've experienced is Dak was playing. He's like, I'm going to play. Then he got hurt. They ended up paying him anyway.
But it was never-- it was a lot less about whether they were going to keep him or even if they were going to offer him a contract and more about like what was the length, what was the guarantee. It's like some of that type of stuff. And we don't know, at least I don't know, whether that's something at play for Lamar.
But I do think that what Lamar and the Ravens will learn about each other they might not have had the opportunity to learn in the same kind of depth a year or two ago is how do they handle a situation like this. Does Lamar feel like he can trust the organization to do not just what's best for the team but also what's best for him? What happens when those two things come in conflict? Does the organizations start to feel like, well, they can't rely on him either to be healthy or to get back as soon as he is and play through injuries?
I think that that's where some of this starts to come up. And that can create a lot of tension in contract negotiations, particularly when he doesn't have an agent who's been like, yeah, this is how it always works. I'm not saying he can't take care of it himself.
And I think if that's what he wants to do, he's obviously entitled to represent himself. And I'm sure he'll learn a lot in the experience. But I do think that it magnifies the player team conversations even more.
CHARLES ROBINSON: Fans missed this idea of the agent conversation. I'm totally down if players don't have agents, that's fine. But part of the conversation that often gets missed is the function of an agent stepping in-- basically becoming a flak jacket, OK? They become a bulletproof vest.
And they're the ones that then go and leak to the media, hey, here's what the organization is doing wrong, here's what the numbers are. They put more of a finite focus. We stop staring at the player and their social media accounts and deciphering updates. And we just get it from the agent.
It sort of like Erik Burckhardt when Kyler Murray was going through that contract extension. I don't think people were so much pissed at Kyler. They were like, what's going on with Erik Burkhardt? Like, he's coming out swinging. Why is he doing this?
And that-- I thought that removed a little of the heat from Kyler because then it became a function of the team and the agent with no agent there for Lamar. It's Lamar and the team. And then it's, sort of, OK, the team has to be careful what they say.
Most of the time, teams can attack the agent then go like, the agents wailing out. They're asking for too much of this or what. And they can, you know, they can be critical. But it's always focused toward an agent.
The Ravens in this entire situation, they've been walking on eggshells, because they're like we can't-- whatever the disagreement is, we can't air that out because we can't blame it on anybody because we're dealing directly with the guy here. And we don't want to besmirch our leader, the person that we want to build around. We'd rather besmirch an agent. We just don't have an opportunity to do that.