Dispelling the myth that Deshaun Watson, Browns had an impact on Lamar Jackson

Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns
Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns / Jason Miller/GettyImages

By now, we've all heard the claim. Deshaun Watson and the Cleveland Browns ruined the quarterback market and are the sole reason the Baltimore Ravens were unable to extend Lamar Jackson.

It's an easy one to sell and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti is brilliant for laying into it. But it's absolutely false when you break it down.

Real reason Lamar Jackson can't get a deal

Lamar Jackson was a phenomenal player when he broke into the NFL. The 32nd pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, he won the league MVP in 2019 when he had 3,127 yards passing with 36 touchdowns. He added 1,206 yards and another seven touchdowns on the ground.

He seemed unstoppable and the Ravens were 19-3 at that time with him as the starter. But that was several years ago and while everyone expecting Jackson to break the bank keeps pointing to 2019, they're ingoring what he's done lately.

Jackson, a quarterback who has to run to find success, has been just 15-9 over the past two seasons. He's also thrown 20 interceptions in that span, which is more than he had in his first three seasons in the league.

Throw in the fact that he's missed 10 games over that time frame, as well as a playoff appearance last year, and there's real concern about him going forward.

But that's practical and can be explained. There's no fun in saying a mobile quarterback coming off a knee injury scares people. So instead, everyone yells about the Browns giving Watson a fully guaranteed contract and calls out the league for collusion.

A league that has given out guaranteed contracts to players such as Kirk Cousins, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady are all now suddenly against guarantees. And the best part is, the real problem is the fact that these contracts are not guaranteed.

In arguably the most dangerous sport in America, players are financially penalized when they can't continue to play. But the NBA and MLB hand out guarantees like candy. So again, the problem is not what the Browns did, it's what everyone else isn't doing.

Baltimore showed their hand long before Watson signed with the Browns

To further drive home the fact that Jackson is the reason he has no deal, Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com detailed how the market for Jackson was set eight months before the Browns landed Watson. And instead of even trying to lock him up, they continued to wait — since they weren't sold on their guy.

Pluto points to the contract Josh Allen got from the Buffalo Bills in 2021. When they knew Allen was their future, he was given a six-year, $258 million ($150 million guaranteed) deal. Jackson eventually was offered something much later, but it was still less than Allen got.

"But missing in that report is that Baltimore’s offer was less than what Buffalo gave Allen ($258 million/$150 million guaranteed) a year earlier. Now, the Ravens are blaming Cleveland, Watson and Jackson for their problems, as their QB wants to be traded. But the Ravens were passive in their talks. That’s especially true after Allen gave them a basis for a new deal long before Watson came to Cleveland."


So it's easy to see Baltimore didn't want to rush to sign Jackson. And even when they did offer something, it was less than his 2018 draft counterpart. So instead of being honest, they blamed the Browns. And again, it's a good move by them.

Why are the Ravens blaming the Browns?

This is the easy one — teams can't simply move on from a quarterback and not get backlash. Baltimore is seeing that now as their lack of faith in Jackson has led to the fan outcry. So to save face, they can simply point to the Browns — the big bad team that signed Deshaun Watson.

Watson is already a hated figure in the NFL, and with good reason. Anyone who dislikes him for the off-field baggage is well within their rights. And the Ravens know pointing to him will remind everyone how bad he is, then they can also sell the idea that his contract is also the reason their fans can't have their quarterback.

But of course, the flaw shows itself again. No one else wants Jackson either. At least not at the asking price. Enter the collusion talk, which also can be debunked by looking around the league.

So in the end, Jackson has seen the writing on the wall. His team and the rest of the NFL aren't convinced he will hold up. They don't believe he's a franchise-changing quarterback worthy of a guaranteed deal (which others besides Watson have gotten). But instead of facing that, he and the rest of the world want to blame the Browns.

Next. 3 new problem players in the AFC North. dark