They still had Joe Flacco at that time, but he was a declining quarterback.
Owning the last pick of the first round, a miracle is all they could hope for.
Boy, miracles do happen.
For some reason, teams kept on looking away from Lamar Jackson.
Havin fun wit it🚀💜🖤 pic.twitter.com/x7uFy4re4Z
— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) August 25, 2021
The Ravens are guilty as well because they took tight end Hayden Hurst at No. 25.
But with the No. 32 pick, Jackson was too good to miss.
As they say, the rest is history.
A Talented 2018 Quarterback Class
Four quarterbacks were taken before the former Louisville standout.
So far, their careers have mixed trajectories.
Baker Mayfield was taken first overall and has enjoyed playoff success with the Cleveland Browns.
Six picks later, Josh Allen went to the Buffalo Bills.
He has given the franchise an AFC East title and a trip to the conference championship game.
No wonder the team gave him a six-year, $258 million extension on top of the two years left on his rookie contract.
With the way things are going, Allen might start and end his career in Buffalo.
Meanwhile, Sam Darnold is still finding his footing in the NFL.
He will continue his career with the Carolina Panthers after a pedestrian stint with the New York Jets.
Finally, Josh Rosen publicly declared that nine mistakes were made before the Arizona Cardinals selected him.
Looks like he might be the mistake as he joins his fifth team in four seasons.
Lucky for Baltimore, they immediately knew what they had in Jackson during his rookie season.
The Injury That Started It All
Jackson got his first NFL start when Flacco suffered a hip injury.
Before that, he was making the most of whatever playing time they gave him.
But just like Tom Brady in New England, he did not relinquish the starting quarterback role when he got it.
The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner won six of the seven games he started and became the youngest quarterback to start a playoff game.
Sadly, jitters got the best of him as the Ravens lost to the Los Angeles Chargers at home during the Wild Card round.
That did not deter the Ravens from going all-in on Jackson and trading Flacco to the Denver Broncos.
Baltimore adjusted their offensive playbook to fit his unique capabilities and signed players that would complement his skills.
Lamar Jackson is the first NFL player with 7,000 pass yards and 2,500 rush yards in his first 3 seasons
(and he started only 7 games his first season)
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 21, 2021
The revamp worked as Jackson became the league’s unanimous MVP in 2019.
He led the Ravens to a 13-2 record and threw for 3,127 yards.
That may be nothing compared to quarterbacks who can throw for 4,000 yards a season.
But that’s not what made him special.
Aside from 36 passing touchdowns, Jackson had 1,206 yards on the ground and added seven rushing touchdowns.
His potent two-dimension attack enables him to make big plays on every snap.
No wonder the league is still trying to discover the antidote for him.
Fair Value For Jackson
There was a declaration that 2021 will be the year that the league will figure out Jackson.
However, that’s easier said than done.
How do you decode a quarterback who has completed 64 percent of his passes and runs like an All-Pro running back?
Just last year, his ground game was clicking again with 1,005 yards and seven touchdowns.
Coaches will find a way to neutralize him for perhaps one game.
But for multiple games to bring him into a slump?
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) August 24, 2021
Therefore, the Ravens must start figuring out his contract extension.
Baltimore has two years to sign him to a new contract, given that they exercised a fifth-year option on him in 2022.
Without a doubt, his performance in 2021 will be crucial on how his new deal will unfold.
Again, as if Newsome’s prayer got answered again, it won’t be difficult to establish a ballpark figure for Jackson.
Allen will be receiving an average of $43 million annually for his new deal.
On the other hand, Patrick Mahomes’ massive contract gives him $45 million annually for ten years.
Unlike Mahomes, Jackson is yet to win a Super Bowl.
However, that MVP award will come in handy during negotiations.
If Jackson continues to be the dual-threat that he is in 2021, he can receive a contract offer that is comparable to Allen’s and Mahomes’.
But if his production declines or worst, gets injures, the Ravens might reduce the figure significantly.