HomeSportsNFLHead of NFLPA Accuses NFL Owners of ‘Criminally Gaming’ System Against Lamar Jackson

Head of NFLPA Accuses NFL Owners of ‘Criminally Gaming’ System Against Lamar Jackson

by Dustin Schutte
Lamar Jackson vs bills
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

NFL Players Association (NFLPA) executive director DeMaurice Smith made some harsh accusations against NFL owners recently. He says they’re “criminally gaming” the system against Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Smith put NFL owners on blast over the draft and franchise tag systems. He says it’s a way to “restrict” the market when it comes to free agency.

“The NFL Draft and the franchise tag system exist because owners have colIuded in the past to both depress and restrict markets,” Smith writes per Pro Football Talk. “This time, they are criminally gaming the game itself.”

As it pertains to Jackson, Smith finds it peculiar that, with a non-exclusive franchise tag, teams aren’t reaching out the former MVP quarterback. It’s been rumored that he’s seeking a fully-guaranteed contract.

“We are all staring at the same answer to the obvious questions,” Smith writes. “Why did [Kirk] Cousins and [Deshaun] Watson get fully guaranteed contracts while others didn’t? Or to be more specific, why have the Baltimore Ravens and other teams publicly (at least initially) made such a point to say they are not going to compensate Lamar Jackson with a fully guaranteed contract like Cousins or Watson?

“Let’s be clear, in my nearly 15-year career as Executive Director, I have never witnessed teams being so quick to publicly announce their lack of interest in an MVP quarterback, who is in his prime and who is also going to get an injury guarantee, regardless of his contract.”

Smith brings up a great point. It’s strange that no team has shown any real interest in Jackson, despite his dynamic abilities.

Are NFL Owners Trying to Send a Message?

The Baltimore Ravens placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on Lamar Jackson earlier this month. That allows the MVP quarterback to speak with other teams during free agency.

If Jackson and another team reach an agreement, Baltimore has seven days to match in order to re-sign the elite passer. So far, there’s been very little movement on that front.

DeMaurice Smith says it’s because the league and the owners want to “send a message.”

“The NFL wants to send a message to all of the above-named stars that they will not get a fully guaranteed contract, simply because other first-ballot Hall of Famers didn’t get them and — if they can help it — because Jackson didn’t get one, either,” Smith writes. “The message for the non-quarterback free agent market is equally harsh: You don’t stand a chance of getting this type of contract.”

At the end of the day, Smith writes that it’s all about control.

“WE will control you. The unions and players have fought this for years, and it will undoubtedly continue.”