Like Aaron Rodgers a year ago, Lamar Jackson’s NFL future will settle on one thing.

A year ago, the Green Bay Packers were staring at their crossroads Aaron RodgersThe impasse is said to be about everything but his contract.

Rodgers wanted more interaction with the front office, more inclusion in the team’s planning and more respect for the key players who built the culture. All of which is a great side item for the league’s reigning MVP: A reworked contract that makes him Green Bay’s unquestioned starter through at least the 2023 season and the highest-paid player in the NFL. When all was said and done, the final tally was undeniable.

Whatever the short-term promises are, the Packers’ front office can’t promise long-term guaranteed money.

This is the solving formula Dead end Between Lamar Jackson Baltimore Ravens. Write it down. Laminate it. Revisit it in weeks, months, years, and see how long it takes to reach the inevitable number. That’s what happened last September. Now about that. What if Jackson eventually plays the 2023 season under a franchise tag? Focusing on anything else is just a shell game moving around the same issue.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (left) said Thursday: “One hundred percent — you know, 200 percent. There’s no question about it. Lamar Jackson is our quarterback.” (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

At Thursday’s news conference, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Eric DeCosta reaffirmed what they’ve said since the beginning of these negotiations: They want Jackson to be the Ravens’ long-term starting quarterback. ; They want to close a deal; And they’re in no rush to publicly explain why it’s taking so long.

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Somehow, they were all treated as a revealing message, even though the organization was on the right footing from the moment the negotiations began. how Surely Is Jackson the team of the future at quarterback? Well, let Harbaugh handle some rhetoric.

“One hundred percent — you know, 200 percent,” Harbaugh said Thursday. “There’s no question about it. Lamar Jackson is our quarterback. He’s our quarterback. Building our offense and building our team, how we think in terms of the people around him is all based on this incredible young man and his ability and his ability and his competitiveness.”

Yes, if you forget about hard work and communication and trust, there is no shortage of them on Thursday. Since Jackson’s input, there’s been no shortage of window dressing problems The next offensive coordinatorTo invest in the wide receiver depth chart, the surrounding offensive pieces are ready to compete.

As for the Ravens wanting Jackson back, these are all good signs. But then again, the owner never said that No Jackson must return. The Ravens have said — repeatedly — that it’s a tough negotiation going on. That both parties have not entered into an agreement. And some contract negotiations are more difficult and time-consuming than others.

Thursday was actually a one-sentence news conference that might have ended with DeCosta’s first line about his confidence in Jackson working out an extension: “It’s definitely going to take two to tango.”

Right there. That’s it. That’s the message that this has been in the same place since the beginning, with both sides eyeing each other and trying to find the exact contract number and set of guarantees that would keep Jackson in the fold long-term.

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The solutions to this are as simple as they were in August. Baltimore could meet Jackson with the total guaranteed money he’s looking for or soften his stance on how close Jackson comes to a fully guaranteed contract. If nothing happens, Baltimore could continue to control Jackson’s future with the franchise tag, and he could either go for a ride or refuse to force a trade.

It has always been a path forward, with various bridges to be crossed along the way. This week, negotiations will pick up where they left off. Next month, the window opens for the team to place the exclusive rights tag (which could fetch around $45 million in salary) or the non-exclusive tag (expected to be around $32.5 million) on Jackson. The exclusive tag means Jackson can only negotiate with the Ravens. The non-exclusive tag would have allowed Jackson to negotiate a free-agent contract with other teams, then allow Baltimore to match the contract or receive two first-round draft picks in compensation.

That tag window opens on February 21 and extends until March 7. If the two sides don’t work out an extension by then, Jackson will be outright tagged. It is a foregone conclusion.

Once he’s tagged, the burden shifts to Jackson deciding what the move means and how he’ll respond. Will he immediately refuse to sign to an exclusive tag? Probably yes. Would he negotiate a deal with another team if he was tied up with a non-exclusive rights tag? And, probably yes. Does all this come to a meaningful crossroads? Absolutely.

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One way or another, we’re going to find out just how insurmountable the gap between Jackson and the Ravens is. Jackson responds by using a specific tag or face it. The key is no greater mystery than it was when negotiations broke down last September.

It runs along Rodgers Road. There will be plenty of sideshows, resolutions and platitudes about what matters. Money is the main attraction. As always.

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