In the scope of which Detroit Lions players are lined up for new contracts soon, left guard Jonah Jackson is promininent in some way but also under the radar in a sense. He's not a quarterback, or a young stud wide receiver or offensive tackle, but there should be no doubt about how highly the team values him.
Jackon's contract situation is also more urgent than that of his prominent teammates, entering the final year of his rookie contract. He has become a key piece of a good offensive line, with a Pro Bowl on his resume. He's lined up to be the last player standing from the last draft orchestrated by Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia in a few weeks.
As expected, Jackson has made it clear he is not focused on his next contract and knows it will take care of itself if he takes care of business on the field. But it's a topic that is on other people's minds, and it isn't going to go completely away right now.
A fresh contract projection for Detroit Lions guard Jonah Jackson
In the days leading up to this week's joint practices against the New York Giants, with limited media access at Allen Park, Justin Rogers of The Detroit News dove into Jackson's contract situation.
Rogers mentions the heavy current and future investments the Lions have in their offensive line, while acknowledging they'll find a way to keep Jackson around long-term if they want to.
Jackson will not reset the top of the guard market, currently set by Falcons guard Chris Lindstrom via the five-year, $102.5 million extension he signed this offseason ($20.5 million per year). And Jackson is probably a notch below the next tier. That's where Rogers landed on some comps.
"Based on comparable players, Jackson likely will fall in the range of Ben Powers. The same age with one more year of experience, Powers has been slightly less durable, and not as effective of a run blocker, but a better pass protector. Overall, there's a valuation overlap.
Powers didn't receive an extension from the Ravens, the club that drafted him, instead making it to free agency, where he scored a four-year, $51.5 million contract with $28.5 million in guarantees from the Broncos this offseason. Another player in that range is Shaq Mason, who agreed to a three-year, $36 million extension with the Texans this offseason."
Ben Powers ($13 million)) and Shaq Mason ($11.66 million) are the 10th and 11th highest-paid guards for 2023 right now based on average annual value (via Over The Cap). So Rogers landed at a contract projection forJackson that's along that line.
"Barring an unforeseen injury, Jackson almost certainly will join the group of guards with a contract averaging more than $10 million per season. And, as noted, $12 million seems like a reasonable range based on age, durability and production.- Justin Rogers, The Detroit News
NFL contracts are often structured in a way that they're backloaded. So a four-year, $50 million extension likely would include a cap hit closer to $5 million in 2024. And if the Lions did get a deal done this offseason, they can attach a prorated portion of any signing bonus to this year's cap hit (currently at $3.25 million for Jackson), softening future cap obligations"
$12.5 million per year feels like a viable number for Jackson, reflecting where he is among his position peers. Of course he could push his market value a little higher with another good season, perhaps even with a second Pro Bowl selection. So the Lions may be trying to get a deal done sooner rather than later.