Before the 2022 season began, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson decided to bet on himself rather than reach terms on a contract extension. So far, it’s paying off big time.
We’ve only seen three weeks of action in the 2022 NFL season, but Jackson is off to one of the hottest starts of his career. There’s already hype growing around the quarterback making a run toward a second MVP award, and deservedly so. Through three games, he’s thrown for 749 yards and 10 touchdowns, which, as of the time of this writing, leads the NFL. His three straight games with at least three passing touchdowns to open a season have set a Ravens quarterback franchise record. Oh yeah, and Jackson also has recorded 243 rushing yards and a couple of touchdowns on the ground this season as well.
Jackson’s Sunday afternoon performance against the Patriots marked the seventh time in his career he’s thrown three or more touchdowns while also recording over 85 rushing yards. That’s five more than Cam Newton, the only other quarterback to have more than one such game since 1950. It was also the second straight game in which Jackson threw for at least three touchdowns and rushed for at least 100 yards. No quarterback in NFL history has ever done that in back-to-back games.
What Jackson is doing so far this season—and, quite frankly, in his career—is something we have never seen in football. Jackson is the very definition of a one-of-a-kind player and is playing at an MVP level once again in his fifth season in the NFL. If he keeps up this level of play and production for the rest of the year, he’ll not only be playing himself to a second MVP award but a huge bag of cash with a new contract as well.
One of the most impressive parts about Jackson’s 2022 season so far is the development we’ve seen from him as a passer. Despite having more pass attempts (88) through his first three starts in a season than in any other year, he’s only thrown two interceptions. He’s also performing better against the blitz than he has in previous years. Jackson has already thrown six passing touchdowns against the blitz this year after throwing only five touchdowns facing a blitz in all of 2021, per ESPN.
It’s the exact kind of season Jackson hoped to have ahead of this year when he decided to bet on himself. It’s still early, but his current situation seems to be mirroring that of New York Yankees star Aaron Judge over in MLB. Like Jackson, Judge declined offers for a contract extension earlier this year as he, too, entered the final year of his rookie contract.
Judge, for his part, has torn up MLB competition and has played his way into being a near shoo-in for AL MVP and what will almost certainly be a record-breaking contract by MLB standards. If Jackson wins a second MVP award, or even if he just continues his immense levels of production without winning the award, he’ll play himself into a record-breaking contract as well. He is truly a one-of-a-kind quarterback, and the Ravens owe so much of their recent success to his play.
While it’s impossible to be sure what Jackson’s next contract will look like, we know what the benchmark is: Deshaun Watson’s fully guaranteed, $230 million contract with the Browns. Jackson has earned himself more guaranteed money than that already and should be looking for no less than $250 million guaranteed after this season, especially if he wins another MVP. Betting on himself has, at least so far, more than worked out for the young star.