By now it’s well-publicized that Lamar Jackson refuses to hire an agent, presumably to save himself the 3% cut an agent takes out of a client’s contract. (NFL agents are not permitted to take more than 3%).
Maybe it’s not purely financial; maybe it’s a principle thing–like Lamar feels as if he can negotiate a contract for himself and doesn’t need an agent, or he doesn’t believe in the idea of agents. He could be like Richard Sherman, who represented himself, and frequently speaks out on his philosophy that athletes don’t need agents. Lamar might want to be a trailblazer in this regard, showing the rest of his colleagues that you can, in fact, cut out that agent middle man and secure the bag for yourself.
Whatever the reason, it’s clear by now that this plan of Lamar’s isn’t working out, and it’s not just because he’s one of the few quarterbacks in league history to ever be franchise-tagged.
It’s because of how much money he has already missed out on due to the fact that he doesn’t have an agent looking out for his best interests.
Say what you want about agents, I’m sure some of them are scumbags, but they get paid based on how big of a contract they get you. So they have every incentive to secure the bag for you. They are looking out for your financial best interests because it is in their financial best interests to do so. The bigger the contract you get, the more money the agent gets. They want to get you paid as much as possible, as soon as possible.
And that latter bit is the key here: as soon as possible. Agents want to get you paid ASAP. And they typically do this for NFL quarterbacks, as we’re about to find out.
Yet Lamar Jackson just played out his rookie contract. He played all 5 years.
That never happens for quarterbacks of his stature. He won an MVP in year 2 in the league, and yet he played a further three seasons on his rookie deal.
I don’t think enough is being made about how unusual it is for that to happen.
NFL players are eligible for a new contract after their third season in the league, and if they’re really good players, they will get that extension after their third season. It almost always happens, because the player realizes he’s worth way more than his rookie contract salary and demands more, and once pushed, his team will gladly give it to him because it means the team locks him up for years to come.
Let’s take Josh Allen as an example.
Josh Allen was drafted in 2018, the same year Lamar was drafted.
Josh Allen signed a 4 year, $21.4 million contract as a rookie. Those 4 year rookie deals always have a team option for the 5th year. So technically Josh Allen’s rookie deal would have run out after this past season, just like Lamar’s.
But it never got to that point with Josh Allen, because he got a mega-deal in August 2021, before the start of his 4th NFL season. His agent and the Bills began negotiating after the 2020 season, in which Allen led the Bills to the AFC Championship game, and they finalized the deal just before the start of the 2021 season. It was a 6 year, $258 million contract extension.
Again, that was after three years. Josh Allen was drafted the same year Lamar Jackson was drafted.
Josh Allen never even came close to playing out his rookie contract. He got a new deal after 3 years.
Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert were drafted in 2020. They both just played their third NFL seasons, and this is why you’re hearing a lot of talk about them getting extensions: they are now eligible for new contracts, and they are each going to get mega-deals at some point in the next 5 months.
Before the 2023 NFL season begins, Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert will almost certainly have signed massive contract extensions with their respective teams.
Because that’s what great players do after they’ve been in the league for three years.
Patrick Mahomes was drafted in 2017, sat the first year, won MVP his second year, won the Super Bowl his third year, and in July 2020, signed a 10 year, $450 million contract extension with the Chiefs.
Three years in the league for Mahomes, then the mega-contract extension.
DeShaun Watson was drafted the same year as Mahomes, 2017. After three years, DeShaun got a 4 year, $156 million extension.
Because That’s What Happens With Good Quarterbacks After They’ve Been In The NFL For 3 Years.
Even Kyler Murray got the mega contract extension after three years in the league. He was taken #1 overall in 2019, and then in July of 2022, he and the Cardinals agreed to a 5 year, $230 million extension. His agent, about a year ago, just after Kyler had completed his third NFL season, put out what was at the time derided as a “bizarre ransom note” basically demanding a long term contract extension.
It worked, and Kyler had a long term deal a few months later.
Yet another quarterback who got paid after three years.
Guess who didn’t get a contract extension after three years?
Why didn’t Lamar get paid after three years? He should have had a big contract extension before the 2021 season, yet he didn’t get one.
For some reason, we have people out there who believe this can only mean one thing: that the Ravens are a uniquely mean, greedy and callous organization, and they are simply doing Lamar dirty.
Now, to their credit, some in the media are pointing out that this is more a reflection of Lamar being unique in that he doesn’t have an agent (Mahomes, Allen and Kyler all have agents).
But judging by how few people–other than Mike Florio–are actually being directly critical of Lamar, it really seems like most NFL fans and commentators really don’t believe–or realize–that Lamar is the one who is at fault here.
And here’s what I mean about Lamar’s stubborn refusal to hire an agent already costing him millions: he could have been playing on that mega-extension the past two seasons, but instead, because he never got that extension after year three, he has played the last two seasons on a rookie contract, earning rookie contract money.
Lamar Jackson has only signed one contract in his career: his 4 year, $9.5 million deal that he signed in June of 2018. (The reason his deal was so much less than Josh Allen’s was because of where they were drafted: Josh Allen was drafted 7th overall, Lamar was drafted 32nd overall. There’s a big difference in pay between the top of the first round and the bottom of it.)
Up until the 2022 season, Lamar Jackson had only earned $9.5 million as a professional football player, despite winning MVP in 2019.
When the Ravens picked up his 5th year option for 2022, he was paid $23 million, so his career earnings over 5 years in the NFL total $32.7 million.
Do you understand just how severely underpaid Lamar Jackson has been the past two years?
Let’s break down the numbers here.
Josh Allen made $47 million in 2022 alone. Plus $20 million in 2021. So that’s $67 million for Josh Allen since signing his mega-extension in 2021.
Josh Allen’s career earnings over his first 5 seasons in the NFL: $85 million.
Lamar’s career earnings over his first 5 seasons in the NFL: $32.7 million.
They were drafted the same year. Lamar won MVP, Josh Allen has never won MVP.
And yet: Josh Allen has made $52.3 million more in his NFL career than Lamar Jackson has.
Why? Because Josh Allen got a massive contract extension after his third year and Lamar didn’t.
Here’s the worst part of it: Lamar should have been making more money than Josh Allen over these past two years, because Lamar has won an MVP and Josh Allen hasn’t.
So Lamar didn’t just miss out on $52.3 million over the past two years, he’s missed out on more than that, because he should’ve been playing on a bigger contract than Josh Allen’s.
Lamar has cost himself at least $52 million by not getting that new contract after his third season. Probably the dollar amount he’s missed out on is over $60 million.
I don’t know how you can look at this any other way than Lamar has fucked up royally by not having an agent. He did this to himself.
Good for you, Lamar: you stuck it to the man and didn’t hire an agent, and you didn’t let some sleazy bastard take 3% of your $32.7 million career earnings.
You saved yourself $980k.
Josh Allen, that dummy, has had to pay out $2.55 million to his agent (3% of his $85 million career earnings).
Yet Josh Allen is still $50 million ahead of you.
Even though Josh Allen has an agent!
It’s almost as if it’s in a player’s best interests to hire an agent!
It feels cruel to say it, but Lamar Jackson is an idiot.
He saw Josh Allen, who was drafted the same year he was, get that massive contract in 2021, and Lamar didn’t think to himself, “Damn, I should get a contract extension like that as well”?
If Lamar Jackson had an agent, he would’ve gotten that contract extension. His agent would have gone to the Ravens after the 2020 season and said, “Lamar needs a contract extension bigger than the one Josh Allen got, and he needs it before the start of the new season.”
And then Lamar would have played the last two seasons with his financial future secured, and he would have made $60+ million more than he actually made.
I don’t know if Lamar thinks it’s incumbent upon the Baltimore Ravens to come to him and say, “Hey we’d like to give you a huge raise,” but that is not how the NFL–or any business–works. If you want to get paid what you deserve, you have to force the issue. You have to threaten to hold out, or demand a trade, or something.
The Ravens were perfectly happy to underpay the shit out of Lamar the past two years. They were not going to give Lamar a raise unless they had to. And they didn’t have to because Lamar never confronted them about his contract when he had every right to do so, and when all the other quarterbacks drafted around the same time he was were doing so.
The Baltimore Ravens were absolutely THRILLED to have an MVP quarterback making an average of $6.54 million a year over the past five seasons. You think they’re going to just say, “Hey, Lamar, we’d like to start paying you $40 million a year instead of $6.5 million a year. That work for you?”
Of course they’re not going to say that! They have to operate under a salary cap. Most teams out there are completely hamstrung by the massive amount of money they have to pay their quarterbacks. The Ravens didn’t have that problem at all because their quarterback never demanded a new contract until his rookie contract ran out.
In an ideal world, nobody would need an agent. The Ravens would be completely up front and honest with Lamar and say, “Hey, you deserve more money.” But that’s not how things work. The NFL is a salary-capped league, and so teams are not going to give you more money unless they absolutely have to. These teams are penny-pinching by nature.
An agent would have forced the issue with the Ravens after the 2020 season. An agent would have had Lamar playing on a massive new contract by the summer of 2021, because that’s what NFL agents do. If your client is a high profile quarterback, you demand the bag for him after year three.
Lamar, who apparently doesn’t need an agent, never did that for himself.
And he cost himself $60+ million–either because he didn’t want to pay an agent 3%, or because he is morally and philosophically opposed to the idea of sports agents in general, or whatever his reason.
Lamar is in way over his head here.
He has already cost himself probably $60+ million, and counting, because he’s about to screw up this next contract of his by stubbornly demanding a fully guaranteed deal for more money than DeShaun Watson got, even though no team in the league is going to pay him that.
The Ravens have taken him to the cleaners the past two years, criminally underpaying him because he does not know what the hell he is doing when it comes to being his own agent. And it will continue to happen to him until he wakes the hell up and realizes how much money he’s missed out on by refusing to hire an agent.
It was not until I really sat down and crunched the numbers that I realized just how badly this dude has fucked up by not hiring an agent.
It’s bad. $60+ million bad.
And not only has Lamar cost himself $60+ million by not having an agent who would have secured him the bag after year three, in 2021, he may have cost his team a deep playoff run this season. We all know that he basically boycotted the playoffs this year because he wasn’t going to play at less than 100% without the security of a long-term deal.
But then we can imply from this that if he had a satisfactory contract, then he would have played in the playoff game against the Bengals, even though he wasn’t 100%. His team almost won that game without him. It was a 24-17 final, and the Bengals won on a miraculous 99 yard fumble return touchdown in the 4th quarter. With Lamar, they probably could’ve won that game, and then, who knows how far they would’ve gone in the playoffs?
By refusing to hire an agent, Lamar has not only cost himself $60+ million, he also cost his team a chance to go on a nice playoff run this past season. They were good enough to beat the Bengals with him, and the Bengals just barely lost in the AFC Championship game to the team that won the Super Bowl. We can probably reason that the Ravens, with Lamar, would’ve had a chance to go to the Super Bowl.
But Lamar fucked that all up.
I do not sympathize for this guy. I really don’t.
I mean, it’s an unfortunate situation, and it’s regrettable.
But he’s brought it all on himself. He did this to himself.
You cannot blame the Ravens for not just coming to him and saying, “Hey let’s renegotiate your contract and give you $275 million+.” That runs counter to the Ravens’ interest as a franchise. Their goal is to build a great football team, and it’s a lot easier to do that when you’re paying your quarterback $6.5 million a year instead of $46.5 million a year.
The only one to blame here is Lamar Jackson.
He does not know what he’s doing being his own agent.
If he did, he would’ve demanded a new contract after the 2020 season. He would have said, “I’m holding out until y’all pay me.”
And they would’ve paid him, because that’s how the NFL works nowadays: teams give their quarterbacks the bag after year three.
But only if the quarterback actually forces the issue! Generally, your agent is the one that does all this dirty work for you: he’s the one that forces the issue for you.
I don’t think Lamar Jackson understands any of this.
I’ll put it in simple terms: what would you rather have, 100% of $32.7 million, or 97% of $85 million?
For some reason, Lamar chose 100% of $32.7 million, whether wittingly or unwittingly.
This dude needs to fire up HBO Max and start binge watching Entourage or something, so he can see an agent at work. He needs to acquaint himself with Ari Gold, and maybe that will change his mind on the idea of getting an agent.
Lamar Jackson is out here swimming in shark infested waters, and the sharks have already taken a $60+ million bite out of his ass.
And he’s not going to get that money back. It’s gone, he missed out on it. He will be $60+ million behind for the rest of his career.
The best thing he can do for himself is realize that he’s fucked up, but that he can still get himself a nice payday if he hires an agent.
Again, that $60+ million is gone and he’s not going to be able to make it up.
But at least he could hire an agent now and have the agent secure him a bag going forward.
I hate to call him an idiot. But what else do you call a person who, through his own stubbornness and/or ignorance, costs himself over $60 million, while all of his peers–many of whom have accomplished less than he has–have gotten every last penny they’re entitled to?