Good morning, I’m Dan Gartland. The NFL news cycle never stops, does it?
In today’s SI:AM:
🤖 How robots are threatening catchers
🔮 Men’s Final Four predictions
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Lamar Jackson asks out of Baltimore
Aaron Rodgers isn’t the only top quarterback angling for a trade this offseason.
Yesterday morning, just as his coach was sitting down to address the media at the NFL owners meetings in Arizona, Lamar Jackson announced that he had requested a trade from the Ravens earlier this month. Jackson said he made the request because the Ravens have “not been interested in meeting my value” as negotiations over a new contract drag on. Jackson said he asked to be traded on March 2, before the Ravens placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on him on March 7.
Publicizing the trade request was a significant step toward attempting to break the stalemate that Jackson and the Ravens have been stuck in since before last season. Jackson has reportedly been seeking a fully guaranteed contract worth more than the $230 million over five years, the same deal that the Browns gave Deshaun Watson. He says the Ravens have offered him $133 million over three years.
It’s a weird situation for Jackson and the Ravens. When healthy, Jackson has proved that he can be the most electrifying player in football. But he hasn’t been able to stay healthy of late. Over the past two seasons, he’s missed 10 games. It’s understandable that the Ravens would be hesitant to give him a record-setting contract—especially when the deal he’s reportedly using as a benchmark (Watson’s) looks worse and worse by the day. It’s equally understandable, though, that Jackson, who won an MVP as a 22-year-old, would want a record-setting contract—hence the standoff.
As Albert Breer points out, Jackson is an outlier among his peers. Every other top quarterback in recent NFL history has gotten a contract extension before their rookie deal expired. Andrew Luck and Cam Newton got theirs after their fourth seasons. Watson, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen got theirs after three. Jackson, though, had his fifth-year option exercised by the Ravens before his fourth season and then actually had to play out his option year last season. Since the advent of the rookie wage scale in 2011, only two quarterbacks (Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston) have had to play on their fifth-year options. Neither of those guys is anywhere near as good as Jackson.
Conor Orr thinks Jackson will still end up re-signing with the Ravens, probably on a three-year contract, but the trade request has added a layer of uncertainty to Jackson’s future that wasn’t there a month ago. There’s a very real chance that he’ll end up elsewhere. At the same time, Jackson has been free to sign an offer sheet with any team since Baltimore placed the nonexclusive tag on him nearly a month ago, and he still hasn’t done so. What reason is there to think that one of the teams that denied interest in Jackson after he was tagged will have a change of heart and want to pursue a trade?
The best of Sports Illustrated
- In today’s Daily Cover, Emma Baccellieri examines how the automatic strike zone threatens to render the once-overlooked skill of pitch framing obsolete.
- Baccellieri also looked at how this women’s Final Four, the first without UConn in more than a decade, is indicative of the growth of the women’s game.
- The Virginia Tech women felt overlooked as a No. 1 seed but used it as motivation to reach their first Final Four, Greg Bishop writes.
- Pat Forde and Kevin Sweeney made their predictions for the men’s Final Four.
- Conor Orr thinks these five NFL teams should consider tanking this season in hopes of landing USC quarterback Caleb Williams.
- Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto was ejected for the strangest reason you’ll see all season.
- John Lynch said Brock Purdy has a leg up in the 49ers’ quarterback competition.
- Aaron Hernandez’s brother D.J. was arrested after throwing a brick with a message attached through the window of ESPN’s headquarters.
- Luka Dončić avoided an automatic suspension after the NBA rescinded a technical foul on him.
- After Rodney Terry led Texas to the Elite Eight, the Longhorns took the interim tag off him.
- Meek Mill texted Robert Kraft to try to convince him to sign Lamar Jackson.
The top five...
… things I saw last night:
5. WWE’s Goodfellas parody starring Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman.
4. Andy Reid’s quote about Jordan Love.
3. Bronny James’s dunk over his brother, Bryce, at the high school All-American dunk contest.
2. Sergio Romo’s hat for his final MLB appearance.
1. Luka Dončić’s absurd assist out of a double team. (LeBron James was pretty impressed by it, too.)
Before the NCAA began sponsoring a women’s basketball championship, the national champion was decided through a tournament administered by the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. The final AIAW Division I championship game was played on this day in 1982, with Rutgers defeating Texas. Which two schools won the most AIAW championships?
- Delta State and Immaculata
- Queens College and Old Dominion
- Cal State Fullerton and UCLA
- Southern Connecticut and Utah State
Yesterday’s SIQ: Former Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham is in the top three on which of the following all-time NFL leaderboards?
- Longest touchdown pass
- Longest touchdown run by a quarterback
- Longest punt
- Longest reception by a quarterback
Answer: Longest punt. On Dec. 3, 1989, in a game against the Giants at the Meadowlands, Cunningham booted a punt 91 yards. It remains the third-longest punt in NFL history.
The play came in the fourth quarter of a tie game. The Eagles were pinned in the shadow of their own goal line with the ball at the three-yard line. John Teltschik, who punted for Philadelphia for the first 10 games of the season, was injured, so the team turned to Max Runager. Runager was struggling on that windy day at Giants Stadium, so when Eagles coach Buddy Ryan sent the punt team on the field, Cunningham told Ryan, “Let me kick it.”
Cunningham, who had averaged 45.2 yards per kick as a punter at UNLV, unleashed a powerful boot that traveled some 70 yards in the air and just kept rolling on the stadium’s old Astroturf. By the time Giants return man Dave Meggett picked it up, it had traveled 91 yards. Only two players have had longer punts in the history of the NFL: Shawn McCarthy (93 yards for the Patriots in 1991) and Steve O’Neal (98 yards for the Jets in ’69).
Cunningham punted a total of 20 times in his 16-year NFL career, including an 80-yard boot in 1994.