Who signs first: Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, or Josh Allen?
Ravens coach John Harbaugh got it right the other day when he said that it’s basically a “done deal” that quarterback Lamar Jackson will sign a second contract. Jackson will indeed get a second deal. As will Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
Still, someone has to go first. And whoever goes first will set the floor for the other two. For that reason, it’s highly likely that Mayfield and Allen (both of whom are represented by traditional football agents) will wait for Jackson (who isn’t) to sign his deal.
If Allen or Mayfield go first, Jackson and whoever is assisting him will simply use that contract as the baseline for his. Then, Jackson will end up with a deal that’s a little bit better than Allen’s or Mayfield’s.
Conversely, if Jackson goes first, his deal becomes the baseline for Allen and Mayfield. And if the Jackson deal ends up being not as good as it could have been, the agents for Allen and Mayfield will simply say, “Well, Jackson didn’t have an agent.”
Simms and I recently discussed this dynamics and others arising from the fact that the Ravens are negotiating the richest contract in franchise history directly with the player. It’s delicate. It’s complicated. And it presents a temptation for the team to insert terms that favor the franchise, terms that would be spotted by an experienced agent but that could be missed by a player who is negotiating the deal, perhaps with the help of a lawyer or some other adviser who doesn’t fully understand the many nuances and realities of NFL contracts in the age of a salary cap.
Regardless, don’t be surprised if the first domino — the Lamar Jackson deal — comes before training camp. And don’t be surprised if Mayfield and Allen decide to wait to agree to terms of their own until Jackson’s deal is done.