It has been more than a yr for the reason that soccer world began worrying about Lamar Jackson‘s future in Baltimore, and there nonetheless is not any signal he and the Baltimore Ravens will strike an settlement quickly.
Normally, this could imply Jackson is headed totally free company with the beginning of the league yr in March. However the Ravens aren’t letting him go wherever. He is nonetheless their franchise quarterback.
“100%, 200 p.c. There is not any query about it,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh mentioned Thursday. “Lamar Jackson is our quarterback. He is been our quarterback. All the pieces that we have performed when it comes to constructing our offense and constructing our staff, how we expect when it comes to placing individuals round him is predicated on this unimaginable younger man, his expertise, his capability and his competitiveness.
“I like Lamar, (common supervisor) Eric (DeCosta) loves Lamar, and it isn’t gonna change sooner or later. I do not know something in regards to the particulars or the entire thing, however I do know one factor: I am like all of the followers on the market and everyone else. I will have my fingers crossed, my toes crossed and I will be saying prayers. I’ve religion it is gonna get performed, and we have one of the best individuals on the earth doing it. … Eric needs him right here, I need him right here, Steve needs him right here, and Lamar needs to be right here. it is gonna work out.”
DeCosta has been deadlocked in a marathon of a public dance with Jackson, telling reporters repeatedly since February they’ll function at Jackson’s tempo and willingness to function at Jackson’s tempo and willingness to barter. To date, it hasn’t produced a lot.
Thursday offered DeCosta one other alternative to recite the identical phrases he is been utilizing for practically a yr.
“Nicely, it actually takes two to tango, however I believe Lamar and I’ve an important relationship,” DeCosta mentioned. “I believe we talk very often; we spent a while collectively immediately as a matter of reality. We have spoken all through the season a number of instances. These negotiations all occur in another way. … I would not characterize the odds of getting any deal performed or how lengthy it is gonna take, besides to say that we’ll talk successfully, we’ll be as honest as we may be and we’ll attempt to hammer out a deal. Hopefully we will get to that time.”
Jackson has a number of legitimate gripes with the staff, together with one the Ravens addressed Thursday by parting methods with offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Jackson voiced displeasure with the staff’s predictable nature in 2021, and a brand new OC ought to make things better, particularly if mentioned rent does not pigeonhole Jackson as a quarterback whose major asset is his working capability.
That working capability has additionally earned Jackson a little bit of a popularity for being damage susceptible, even when it isn’t fairly correct. Jackson’s greater charge of runs would theoretically go away him prone to extra hits, certain, however he suffered an ankle damage that ended his 2021 season whereas trying to keep away from strain earlier than passing, not working. His knee damage in 2022 got here whereas he was transferring by means of the pocket with the purpose of releasing one other cross.
Each minimize his season quick, forcing the Ravens to depend on Tyler Huntley and in 2022, rookie Anthony Brown. Baltimore is not letting these unlucky occurrences impression its negotiations, at the least not publicly.
“I do not anticipate this being any sort of a pattern,” Harbaugh mentioned. “Lamar, I do not imagine is a man that’s going to have these points going ahead. You may’t suppose that. And actually, it is simply soccer. Each these performs the final two years had been sort of freaky performs that occur. They’ll occur.
“Lamar is a really sturdy participant. I do know that folks may take challenge with that. I get it. However I do not imagine there’s going to be an issue transferring ahead as a result of I understand how arduous he is gonna work. Lamar Jackson works arduous. Whether or not it is within the weight room, on the sector, working, within the classroom, Lamar is all soccer. He works actually arduous at it. And that is actually what you do. You’re employed arduous, you get your self in nice form, you go play the sport the way in which you play it. And that is what he’ll do subsequent yr.”
A dynamic, extremely explosive quarterback is strictly what every NFL staff would love on its roster. Baltimore has had one for the final 5 years, and even when Jackson hasn’t earned a visit to the Tremendous Bowl, he is actually gained loads of regular-season video games for the Ravens.
He isn’t the sort a staff simply walks away from over cash, even when the speculative cycle could have you imagine in any other case.
If Baltimore cannot strike a long-term take care of Jackson earlier than the franchise tag deadline, it is protected to anticipate the Ravens to position the tag on the quarterback, paying him a mean of the highest 5 quarterback salaries for one yr. The speed can be a hefty chunk of change, however that was at all times going to be the truth for the Ravens, particularly after the division-rival Browns handed Deshaun Watson a massive, fully guaranteed contract in 2022.
“Any take care of Lamar goes to have an effect on the wage cap,” DeCosta mentioned. “Whether or not we get a long-term deal performed or we do an unique franchise or a conventional franchise. It will have an effect on the cap, I imply these are large, large numbers. We’re lucky that now we have a greater wage cap than most. We have now much more room than most groups do, which was by design three or 4 years in the past.
“I believe one of many issues that we noticed years in the past with Joe (Flacco). After we needed to do Joe’s, we did not have sufficient room to franchise Joe again then. So we sort of deliberate accordingly. We have now plenty of wage cap area that we will use that creates some facet of flexibility with us contract-wise and in addition franchise smart, as nicely. It provides us a pair completely different choices. Regardless, it isn’t going to be a scenario the place the market is open and we’re simply going and signing guys left and proper. That is not going to occur.”
A franchise tag would safe Jackson’s providers for 2023, however may additionally create a stalemate. Some franchise-tagged gamers (e.g., Davante Adams) find yourself getting dealt elsewhere, whereas others sit out of offseason actions in what’s their finest technique of resistance to the tag.
“That is one thing we’re not going to speak about,” DeCosta mentioned of the considered entertaining commerce presents for Jackson. “Our singular focus is getting a long-term deal.”
The Ravens are hoping their relationship with Jackson — which could not be as steady as one would suppose, contemplating how Jackson acted on social media following Baltimore’s loss to Cincinnati on Tremendous Wild Card Weekend — can be sturdy sufficient to keep away from a standoff.
“I imply there is not any assure it’s going to go that manner. So that you cross these bridges once you get there,” Harbaugh mentioned. “There is a historical past of that with guys which can be given the tag, however Lamar’s a novel man, too. He isn’t beating to everyone’s drum. He does his personal factor the way in which he needs to do it. So these issues will all come down the street as they arrive and we’ll modify and adapt as we face them.”