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Lamar Jackson’s absence against Bengals may have led to further separation with Ravens

Baltimore seemed ready to use their star quarterback, but he never made it on the field.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The situation between Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens could unfold in multiple ways. If the star quarterback left the division, that would be a win for the Cincinnati Bengals, and that seems to be more and more likely as the days and weeks lag on.

Jackson, who missed the last few months of the season, was expected, at least based on reports by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Jamison Hensley, to play against the Bengals, and he kept his rehab relatively quiet.

“But signs of a return weren’t evident. Some in the building were concerned when Jackson didn’t practice at all during Week 18. Over recent weeks, Jackson had attended quarterback meetings but wasn’t a fixture in team settings as he rehabbed in relative isolation, according to team sources,” the report noted.

While the Bengals may not have played a massive part in the absence of Jackson, the star quarterback missing that game could haunt his free agency. Knowing he likely wasn’t going to see eye-to-eye with the team in free agency, pushing his limits wouldn’t have made sense.

Jackson missed several games in which the Ravens played the Bengals. That said, if he stays in the division, Jackson will be forced to meet Deshaun Watson, a dynamic Steelers defense, and Joe Burrow in 6 of 18 games.

That by itself may be helping him seal his decision.