DeCosta: Signing OBJ ‘didn’t hurt’ case for Lamar

Mike Florio and Myles Simmons unpack Eric DeCosta’s comments on Lamar Jackson’s contract negotiation and explore what flipped the switch for the QB to accept the Ravens’ offer.

Video Transcript

MIKE FLORIO: It's obvious, at one level, when you go from Greg Roman to anyone else. But still, when you think about the things John Harbaugh said after they fired Greg Roman and made it clear they're looking for a new coordinator, they're gonna continue to have the same identity. Maybe they're not, not with OBJ, Zay Flowers, Mark Andrews, Isaiah Likely.

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I think they're gonna start throwing the ball a lot more. And I think we're gonna see fewer of the designed runs as they get deeper into Lamar Jackson's career, Myles.

MYLES SIMMONS: Well, and yeah, Eric DeCosta did acknowledge that in that interview when you were talking to him, that that's something that they have to be conscious of when you're talking about Lamar Jackson and his career and the wear and tear that can come on his body.

But I think one thing that Todd Monken should be able to do is just increase the solutions for Lamar Jackson as a quarterback. And one of the things that I was struck by when watching Georgia's offense as I have over the last couple of years-- and I guess we all have because they're one of the most prominent teams in college football-- is the route combinations, right, and the easy solutions that he would give to Stetson Bennett for where the ball should go.

Now, that is something that is gonna be completely different in the NFL when you're going against NFL-caliber defenses instead of, you know, what TCU put out there in the National Championship Game at SoFi Stadium in January. But I think it's still gonna make a difference because you're dealing with somebody who is a former receivers coach, right?


He was Odell Beckham Jr.'s position coach with the Cleveland Browns a few years ago in that ill-fated season of 2019. So I think there are things that Todd Monken understands about offense that he's gonna be able to translate to Lamar Jackson and the rest of that pretty talented group that he's now got at receiver and tight end, where you will see some different things going on with the Baltimore Ravens' offense that should make them better, just by kind of the nature of surprise, right, and change. That should really help Baltimore going into 2023, the element of the unknown.

MIKE FLORIO: They're having a press conference today at 12:30 Eastern with Lamar Jackson, Eric DeCosta, and John Harbaugh. The deal was done a week ago. I've still yet to see the details. But I was fascinated by DeCosta's admission that they took the offer they had made last year before the season that Lamar Jackson had rejected, and they enhanced it.

So that tells me it's gonna be at least 133 million fully guaranteed right out of the gates because that was the number we heard last year-- 133 million fully guaranteed. The one thing that we didn't know at the time that became more obvious later-- how much of the injury guarantee becomes fully guaranteed after only one season.

35 million was the number last year. What's that number gonna be this year? That's the key. The full guarantee after one season-- because they're not gonna cut him after one year. So that full guarantee is gonna vest. That's a practical guarantee. We'll eventually get all of that stuff.


But, look, DeCosta didn't say it. But I think it's a given. The Jalen Hurts contract woke up Lamar Jackson.

It got him to realize, I'm not getting Deshaun Watson's contract. Whatever argument I can make for the Deshaun Watson deal-- and you can make some strong arguments. I'm an MVP. He's not. I don't have 25 lawsuits pending against me. He did.

How did he get 230 million fully guaranteed over five years? Well, it's complicated. It was a process that involved leverage and desperation. And it worked out just right, and he threaded the needle, and he got it.

Lamar Jackson's not in that situation. And to his credit, Myles, he finally-- someone, somehow, finally-- and I think Odell Beckham Jr. had something to do with it-- but someone got him to realize, Lamar, you're not getting that. So at some point, you got to take something.


And nobody else is knocking on the door. And this offer they're making you is pretty damn good. At some point, you just have to say yes. And he finally realized, post-Jalen Hurts, post-OBJ, now's the time for me to do it, Myles.

MYLES SIMMONS: Well, you did try to get him to say that, to your credit, in that interview. But if you're Eric DeCosta, of course you're not actually gonna say that. And he said that you need to ask Lamar Jackson that.

So, yeah, let's try to get Lamar Jackson on a "TFP PM" episode and see if he'll actually answer that question. Or maybe he'll answer it today at that press conference at 12:30 Eastern time. But I think that it's pretty obvious that that was one of the dominoes to fall, the Jalen Hurts contract, right?

And once Jalen Hurts does not get a fully-guaranteed deal, it does make it more plain and obvious that, look, this is maybe the best thing for you, Lamar Jackson, if you accept the deal that the Baltimore Ravens are offering. And so, I mean, you know, we can say that Lamar Jackson won, that he didn't, you know, that he didn't need an agent, that he did.


I tend to think that he still could have used an agent to navigate the difficulties of this situation and some of the things that came out in reporting and just people speculating. A lot of that would have been a little bit different. The narrative of the whole situation would have been different if he had an agent. And maybe some of the financial implications would have been different if he had an agent as well. We'll never know.

But at least now they have a resolution. And I think getting that done for the Baltimore Ravens right before the NFL draft was probably a big, big, big sigh of relief within that entire building because it allows you to go into that first round with certainty, right?

It allows you to say, OK, we now have this great anchor point for our franchise for the next five seasons. And if you are going into a draft with any of that kind of huge uncertainty over your head, that's not really a good thing.

MIKE FLORIO: Many have said, as a knee-jerk reaction to Lamar finally getting his contract, finally waking up from the Deshaun Watson fever dream and acknowledging he's not gonna get what Watson got, that Lamar Jackson didn't need an agent all along, that he gets that 260 million. He doesn't have to give anybody 3%, 2%, 1%, whatever number it would have been. He doesn't have to give up anything other than to Uncle Sam and the authorities in Maryland.


But we need to be realistic about this. We've got to go all the way back to 2018. If he had been represented the way other great quarterbacks are from the moment he entered the league, Myles, he wouldn't have fallen to number 32. I promise you he would not have fallen to number 32 because look at what happened with CJ Stroud.

Look at what happened last week. It happens every year. The quarterbacks who have agents, those agents want to prop their guy up and knock the other ones down.

So Lamar had neither. He had no one propping him up against the Bill Polian-style bullcrap that was out there, that he shouldn't even play quarterback. And he had no one who was operating with a sword against other quarterbacks. No shield, no sword-- he falls to number 32.

He would have made a hell of a lot more money. Look at Will Levis-- from four to three cost him $24 million. He lost a lot of money right there. Then during his career-- endorsements. Point that we made during all of this-- why does he need an agent?


How many endorsements does-- the guy who was an MVP who should be the face of the league. How many endorsements does he have? How many deals do we ever hear Lamar Jackson have? He could have been, I believe, the face of the Nike Jordan brand for football. Could have been-- isn't, and I think, in part, because he doesn't have an agent.

And this deal now would have been done earlier, would have been done better. And if it does push to the brink where you become a franchise tag player, agent works the channels, talks to the person's contacts, gets someone interested, makes clear, hey, he's ready to leave Baltimore.

Look at what Athletes First did on behalf of Deshaun Watson-- made it clear Deshaun Watson's never playing for the Texans again. I mean, you got to have somebody who's playing those cards for you while also telling you you're not gonna get Deshaun Watson.

I'll get you a good deal. I can't get you Deshaun Watson unless you refuse to ever play for the Ravens again, and we can set up a competition among multiple teams and make somebody sufficiently desperate.


So if you want to try it, I'll try it. You're the boss. You tell me what to do. I'll try.

He's not even in a position where he can begin down that path without an agent who understands how to make all those different pieces come together. So absolutely positively-- and I know we can't prove it, but I've been around this game long enough to know. He would have in his pocket more if he'd been represented from day one, far more if he'd been represented from day one, than what he's gonna have under this deal.

MYLES SIMMONS: Well, Mike, and I would just point at the example of a Kyler Murray, right, somebody who is not accomplished nearly-- and I'm being generous by saying that-- as much as a Lamar Jackson. And he gets a deal before his fourth season that gives him that, quote unquote, "generational wealth"-type money.

And that's because he had an agent, and the agent made a stink publicly sitting out PDFs that had, like, 0.8 size font that none of us could actually read and made us think of that meme where it says, I ain't reading all that, but, you know, congratulations, or I'm sorry that happened.


And then he gets the deal. And then he secures his financial future before suffering what is a very, very serious knee injury. And you had a Lamar Jackson, who won an MVP in his second season, goes into the third season, plays well, gets to the playoffs again-- before the fourth season, probably should have had a contract and, if he had an agent, would have had a new contract then. And so you're--


MYLES SIMMONS: --whenever you're saying that, it's like, OK, well, there was money there that was not earned because he did not have a new deal, and he didn't have the financial security secured-- if I can use that phrase-- before that fourth season. So that's what I think about when it's, OK, if you had an agent, what would have been different?

The deal would have been done years ago as opposed to now. And, really, he might be in a position to go back to the Ravens, as Patrick Mahomes is right now, and say, let's sweeten the pot here a little bit because we're getting a little off track with what my average annual value is compared to some of these other dudes who haven't done as much as what I've done. So that's where I think it gets a little bit different.

MIKE FLORIO: Yeah, Josh Allen, who did a deal after three seasons-- same draft class as Lamar Jackson. He has made 41 million more than Lamar the last two years, and that money's never coming back. This new deal does not refund Lamar Jackson for what he could have made if he'd done a contract after three years.

It just doesn't. That's gone. That 41 million gap is gone. And the lesson--

MYLES SIMMONS: That's the best point to--

MIKE FLORIO: --from the Kyler Murray--

MYLES SIMMONS: --make about it, Mike. It really is.

MIKE FLORIO: Yeah. The lesson from the Kyler Murray example, the best lesson for any quarterbacks out there, kids, hire the agent who represents the head coach. That goes a long way. That goes a long way toward getting you your contract.

I think the fact that Erik Burkhardt represented Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray was a lot more helpful than his Ted Kaczynski manifesto that he posted online last year. But he did make it clear this guy's not playing for his fourth-year salary. He's not playing for 4 million or whatever it was gonna be. He's just not doing it. He's not doing it.

Sometimes you need that independent voice. For the same reason the team needs to have someone that they can speak candidly to, other than the player-- that's another thing that Eric DeCosta gets into if you watch the full interview, that it's difficult, that it's awkward to speak directly to the player-- sometimes the player needs somebody else to be the jerk.


MIKE FLORIO: Sometimes the player needs someone to be the one who comes out and says, you know, I'll take the heat. I'll take the criticism. I'll take the slings and arrows because for the player, when you do it, what happens? Everybody gets mad at you.

When the agent does it, everybody gets mad at the agent. They don't get as mad at the player. You need that third person who can be the person who's waving the flag on your behalf publicly. And Lamar didn't have that.

MYLES SIMMONS: No, he did not have that. And that's where-- you know, and people have made this point on Twitter. So it's not really an original thought by me. But that's kind of the point of the agent, right?

You relieve yourself of the headache of going through all of this mess. And, I mean, to me, it would have been worth it-- the 3%, whatever it is-- to relieve myself of the headache. To Lamar Jackson, it wasn't. To each their own.

But, yeah, I mean, he'll never see some of that money that he could have made had he gone through this a few years ago. And it's the same situation that, you know, Jalen Hurts already got his deal, right, going into the fourth year. Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow, they're not playing without new contracts, which is why we're hearing the Chargers and Bengals acknowledge that.

They're already working on it. And, you know, at some point between, probably, now and the end of July, when training camp starts, we will hear about new deals for both of those guys.

MIKE FLORIO: Still, I give Lamar Jackson credit for not doubling down, not being so stubborn that he failed to do a deal. I was very concerned he was never gonna say yes to anything and that he possibly wouldn't play at all this year, because at some point, he had to say yes.

And I truly do believe, when they overpaid Odell Beckham Jr.-- whatever that money is above what the Jets were gonna pay him if he had gone to New York the day after Easter. He was scheduled to go to New York, and I've heard maybe 3 to $6 million base with an opportunity to make money on top of it based on production. 15 million fully guaranteed-- that blows away anything anyone else was gonna do.

But part of that money was to get someone in there who could maybe break the ice with Lamar Jackson. And between OBJ and Jalen Hurts, the Ravens found a way out of the maze-- nontraditional path out of the maze. They busted down a couple of walls to finally get this done.

And we'll hear Lamar Jackson, Eric DeCosta, and John Harbaugh talk about that in some detail later today when they have the official press conference announcing the new contract.