NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith poses for a photo with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell

The reality that Lamar Jackson, a former NFL MVP in the prime of his career, seems unable to get a fully guaranteed contract from any team, is not lost on NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith.

In fact, he went as far as to say that NFL owners are gaming the system against Jackson and other big-name NFL stars.

“The NFL Draft and the franchise tag system exist because owners have colluded in the past to both depress and restrict markets,” Smith wrote this week. “This time, they are criminally gaming the game itself.”

Smith penned a damning screed on the NFLPA website this week, calling out the Baltimore Ravens and other NFL teams over the way they seem to be trying to send a message over Jackson’s contract demands.

“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 contends that the league’s owners are trying to remind players that they aren’t going to get what they want just because a handful of players got guaranteed deals.

“The NFL wants to send a message to…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.

“The message is clear from the league. WE will control you. The unions and players have fought this for years, and it will undoubtedly continue.”


About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to