Lamar Jackson is not under contract with the Ravens for next year and many pundits have projected that he’s played his last game with the club that drafted him in 2018. But in an end-of-season news conference Thursday, Ravens leadership committed to pursuing a long-term deal with Jackson that would keep him as the franchise’s star for years to come.
“Lamar Jackson is our quarterback,” coach John Harbaugh said.
That’s easier said than done, though, as the Ravens and Jackson were unable to come to an agreement over a contract extension ahead of this season, the last of his rookie contract. While several other top quarterbacks across the league have been signed to extensions before their contracts expired, Jackson reached the end of his initial five-year deal without one in place.
General manager Eric DeCosta said he “spent some time” with Jackson on Thursday and that the two communicated during the season. DeCosta deflected questions about the specifics of their negotiations, but demonstrated confidence that a deal would get done by March 7, the deadline for teams to place a franchise tag on a player. In Jackson’s case, the franchise tag would lock him for next season at a cost of about $45 million.
“I told Lamar, ‘Hey, this thing has been a burden for both of us,’” DeCosta said, ‘”but when this thing is over, we are gonna feel like a million bucks.’”
In Jackson’s case, he could feel like well over 200 million bucks. That’s been the going rate for top quarterbacks, as Kyler Murray, DeShaun Watson and Russell Wilson have each signed five-year deals worth at least $230 million, or $46 million a year.
It remains a possibility that the Ravens could trade Jackson to many willing suitors across the NFL, but DeCosta did not publicly entertain the idea.
“That’s something that we’re not going to talk about at this point,” he said. “Our focus right now is really to get a long-term deal done. That’s our singular focus.”
This story will be updated.