Here’s why some NFL players are making collusion accusations against Lamar Jackson

A year ago this week, two grand juries in Texas declined to indict Deshaun Watson on any charges related to multiple women who alleged Watson committed sexual assault or sexual misconduct while attempting to administer massages quarterback for the Houston Texans.

As soon as Watson was criminally safe, several teams – the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints – jumped at the chance to trade and sign Watson, who at at that time had not played a full season and was 28 years old. -25 as the Texans starter with a playoff win.

The Cleveland Browns outbid everyone else, signing Watson to a five-year, fully guaranteed, $230 million contract and sending three first-round picks to Houston.

And yet, here we are 12 months later and two of those three teams that were chasing Watson and still without a long-term quarterback are telling reporters, including Yahoo! Sports’ Jori Epstein, they are on Lamar Jackson. It came hours after the Baltimore Ravens placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on the QB, allowing any other team to make an offer and potentially sign him if the Ravens don’t match.

Jackson was the NFL’s second unanimous MVP at age 23. His Ravens have won 45 of his 61 career starts. He celebrated his 26th birthday eight weeks ago and is widely believed to be a mainstay in his South Florida neighborhood and in Baltimore. He can be acquired for two first-round picks and not the three Houston demanded, and he hasn’t been accused of misconduct by more than two dozen women. Still… he’s not appealing to those desperate QB teams, but was Watson?

Of course.

You will forgive us if we do not believe them.

December 4, 2022;  Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) stands on the field during the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Will Lamar Jackson play for the Ravens in 2023? (Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports)

Current and former players also sense that something is wrong. JJ Watt, Robert Griffin III, Tyrant Matthew, Jaquan Brisker And Whenre Diggs were among those casting suspicion on reports that teams who should want a quarterback don’t want Jackson, with Diggs outright using the word collusion in his tweet and Mathieu saying anyone who questions Jackson’s ability did not have to play defense against him.

You’ll understand if we also smell a bit of collusion in the air, the stench that wafts over it all like a Rottweiler freshly sprayed by a skunk (don’t ask how I know).

Shortly after the details of Watson’s mega-deal were revealed last March, Ravens team owner Steve Bisciotti publicly stated his displeasure with it, and that he would be do negotiations with other tougher quarterbacks.

Bisciotti and the Ravens could have signed Jackson for an extension in 2021, after his third season. That was long before the Browns’ contract with Watson, so part of the reason he’s in this messy situation now — assuming he doesn’t mean it — is his fault. Also, the price for players, especially quarterbacks, never goes down. 2018 first-round pick Josh Allen signed a six-year extension with the Buffalo Bills in 2021, which includes $150 million in guaranteed money and a maximum of $258 million. Jackson and Baltimore could have done something similar and didn’t, and now the price has only gone up.

Jackson has suffered injuries in each of the past two seasons. It’s also worth noting that the Ravens were in the top third of the league in men’s games lost to injury in 2022 and have dropped to third in the league since 2009, and in the NFL Players Association survey, the Baltimore players ranked their strength. coach Steve Saunders at an F-minus, by far the worst in the league. It’s probably no coincidence that Saunders was fired last month.

(This is where we’ll pause to reiterate that while it’s admirable that Jackson is representing himself, long enough for him to have found an agent or even a lawyer who could have fought the charges against him. team at the negotiating table is long gone.)

Bisciotti and other team owners are apparently still irritated that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam broke ranks to secure Watson’s deal. It’s not now, never has been, and never will be Lamar Jackson’s problem.

If he told Bisciotti and GM Eric DeCosta that as a more talented league MVP than Watson without any baggage, he deserved the same deal if not a bit better, he’s 100% right.

If the owner class is salty with Haslam, don’t invite him to the ridiculous evening with a Michelin chef on a yacht in Saint-Tropez that they have planned for April and stop picking on Jackson and the other players.

Of course, this all should have been expected: the writing has been on the wall for a long time, but if last week’s revealing NFLPA player survey showed us anything, it’s that a number not negligible of these team owners don’t really care about winning. , at least not on the ground. They care about their own wealth, period.

There is nothing in the collective agreement that says every contract cannot be fully guaranteed. Team owners simply refuse to do this and will apparently do whatever they can to make sure it doesn’t become the norm. There’s also nothing stopping them from ending the current rule that requires teams to put all guaranteed contract funds, in cash, into an escrow account (although the structure of the Kansas City Chiefs’ contract with Patrick Mahomes shows that there are ways around this). They won’t end the practice because it would open the door for franchise owners who are cash poorer to do more deals like the one Watson received.

And the one Jackson deserves.

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