Geno Smith has more career earnings, guarantees than Lamar Jackson
Two quarterbacks having two very different weeks in the NFL, 3/9/2023
The old narrative around Lamar Jackson from the 2018 NFL Draft—although it was literally one scout from one team (the L.A. Chargers) and has since been blown up into “OMG, teams wanted Lamar to change positions!”—is that he could do better as a wide receiver than a quarterback. My question for Lamar after the last two years have transpired without a long-term contract because he has been asking for a fully-guaranteed deal is this:
Did you forget that you’re a quarterback and not a wide receiver?
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Because for all intents and purposes, quarterback contracts ARE fully-guaranteed. Especially for quarterbacks at your level.
Yes, it is true that for certain quarterbacks in particular situations, like Derek Carr in 2022 or Geno Smith at this very moment, teams have protected themselves recently with more “outs” in case of implosions by risky bets. But this is also not anything new: Colin Kaepernick’s reported “$114 million” contract with the San Francisco 49ers in 2014 ended up only netting him $25 million before he was released.
If the Baltimore Ravens have been offering Lamar a “Kaepernick” contract then yes, he’s been disrespected. But Kaepernick’s contract had $13 million in guarantees. Even Lamar’s camp admits that the Ravens contract offer had at least $133 million guaranteed—which if that’s the full guarantee, would be the second-highest ever given to any player other than the extreme outlier of Deshaun Watson.
And though I completely understand why fans would follow their gut instinct to sympathize and back the player over a franchise—in this case a very exciting and entertaining football player—don’t lose sight of the fact that you do not want NFL teams to set a precedent for handing out fully-guaranteed contracts going to every good quarterback.
Even though as I said before, quarterbacks at Lamar’s level with $133 million guaranteed offers—such as the irreparable damage done by the contracts to Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford, and Dak Prescott with no true escape—basically already have fully-guaranteed offers.
But because of Lamar’s hesitation to accept a nearly-fully guaranteed contract in either of the last two offseasons, and now getting the $32.4 million non-exclusive franchise tag that has no guaranteed money on it unless he signs, we are at a place where as of March 9, 2023—three years after Lamar Jackson was awarded an MVP for the 2019 season, and one year after Geno Smith was a well-established NFL backup who had won five games as a starter since 2014—it’s Geno who can say, “I’ve made more money in the NFL.”
And without those guarantees, there’s a chance that Geno Smith will still have made more money by 2024.
Who could have seen this coming?