While Thursday night marks the start of the NFL season, Friday marks a critical deadline for the Baltimore Ravens.
That deadline determines if they derail their future.
The deadline was set up by quarterback Lamar Jackson.
With the two sides still in contract talks, Jackson is letting everyone know it’s now or next year for him.
Lamar Jackson told reporters today that his deadline to get a contract extension done with the Ravens is Friday.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 7, 2022
However, the Ravens delaying a contract extension with him can easily derail their future.
With the young QB being beloved in Baltimore by fans, they can’t risk alienating them.
While fans are part of the soul in Baltimore, Jackson is their offense.
Without him, the Ravens future as playoff contenders can easily be gone.
But is the Ravens future solely resting with Jackson and a new contract?
Defense Has Always Gotten The Ravens Into The Playoffs
A look back to the team’s first Super Bowl win shows a team built on defense.
However, the Ravens rosters over the years show them having solid defensive players each season.
So even without the best quarterback, the Ravens made the playoffs and Super Bowl.
When talking about recent (free agency era) all-time great NFL defenses there's a theme among most of them:
No high-level franchise QB.
2000 Ravens – Trent Dilfer and Tony Banks
2009 Jets – Mark Sanchez
2002 Bucs – Brad Johnson
2015 Broncos – Washed Up Peyton and Brock Osweiler
— Field Gulls (@FieldGulls) February 7, 2022
But everyone talks about the great defensive players they had on their roster.
So Baltimore’s future might not rest solely with Jackson.
The Ravens future might be in their defensive unit.
Ravens Defense Can Give Them A Fighting Chance Regardless Of Who’s Quarterback
If the Ravens decide to move on from Jackson after 2022, they have Tyler Huntley.
When Jackson was sidelined with an injury in 2021, Huntley stepped in as the starting QB.
While his numbers aren’t even middle of the road, he did enough to keep the Ravens in games.
However, it’s because the Ravens defensive unit is always giving the offense a chance to win games.
Huntley went 1-3 as starting QB in 2021, with three losses being by a field goal or less.
One of those losses came on a failed two-point try against the Green Bay Packers.
THE 2-POINT TRY IS NO GOOD!
The Packers (-350 ML) win but Ravens (+9) still cover. pic.twitter.com/WJmIJxzXyr
— FOX Bet Sportsbook (@FOXBet) December 20, 2021
This means their defensive unit can do everything needed to win games.
However, passing on Jackson still hurts the Ravens future.
Jackson Has Too Much Fan Support To Be Let Go
While Jackson might be overrated, as his play is regressing a little, fans still love him.
The Ravens can’t afford to lose the energy he brings to their fanbase.
Even if Huntley can win the team games, Jackson brings the flash fans want to see.
Those fans have forgotten about the great defensive players who built their Super Bowl contending team.
No longer are they excited over a defense that’s helped them win two Super Bowls.
Those fans are all-in on Lamar as their future quarterback.
With Friday as his deadline for a new deal, the time is ticking for Baltimore.
If no deal happens, the future of their franchise could end with Jackson having the fans on his side.