BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said Monday he’s “confident” the team will get a contract extension completed with star quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Speaking at the Annual League Meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., Harbaugh said he hasn’t talked with Jackson about the status of a new deal, and he’s not aware of any progress on the part of executive vice president and general manger Eric DeCosta in the last few weeks.READ MORE: Gun Spotted In Driver's Car Before Baltimore Officer Dragged, Court Documents Say
“But I’m confident it’s going to happen,” he told reporters. “I know he’s going to be our quarterback, and really when you’re coaching and you’re playing, that’s what you think about. We know we’re going to be playing this year, Lamar’s going to be our quarterback. I’ve got to do the very best job I can to have him ready to play his best football.”
A first-round pick in 2018, Jackson is in the fifth and final year of his rookie deal. Asked about an extension early last month, DeCosta described the discussions as an “unusual negotiation” because he’s dealing with Jackson directly instead of an agent.
“I think at this point I would say we’re working at Lamar’s pace,” he said. “He’s comfortable where we are right now. I think he feels that we have a lot of unfinished business.”
Jackson’s mother, Felicia Jones, served as her son’s manager entering the NFL Draft in 2018, but DeCosta indicated he was talking directly with the quarterback.
“I’ve always spoken to Lamar. It was made clear to me early on in the process that Lamar and I would work together,” he said. “And so that’s been the case, and he and I have a great relationship. I’m very proud of the relationship that we have.”
Last April, the Ravens picked up Jackson’s fifth-year option three days before the May 3 deadline, setting him up to earn $23.016 million this seasonREAD MORE: Maryland Weather: Sunny & Warm
Harbaugh didn’t anticipate the negotiations being a distraction as teams head into offseason workout programs in April. Jackson’s focus is on becoming the best quarterback he can be, and both the team and Jackson are planning as if a deal will get done eventually, he said.
“It’s one of the great things about Lamar Jackson, he’s very unique. He’s just a guy that doesn’t get caught up in things that — whether he can’t control [them] or he doesn’t want to address [them] at that point in time, he’s not going to worry about them,” Harbaugh said. “If it mattered to him, then obviously it would be a priority at this point in time, and I’m sure we’d be getting something done.”
When the time is right for a deal to happen, it will, he added.
Regardless of where things stand, the cost has likely gone up, with the NFL offseason being dominated by blockbuster trades to land by QBs and the huge contracts teams have given to their passers.
AFC North rivals the Cleveland Browns traded three first-round picks, a third-round pick and two fourth-round picks to acquire Desahun Watson from the Houston Texans, and then signed him to a five-year $230 million contract — in spite of the fact Watson still faces 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault or misconduct and a possible suspension. The Green Bay Packers gave veteran signal-caller Aaron Rodgers a four-year, $200 million extension, making him the highest paid quarterback in the league.
Following a red-hot start to the 2021 season where he was out-gaining entire teams, Jackson went through a mid-season slump and then missed the final four weeks of the season after suffering a bone bruise early in the team’s Week 14 game against the Cleveland Browns. Jackson finished the season with 2,882 passing yards, 16 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions in 12 games. On the ground, he added 767 yards (an average of 63.9 yards per game) and two scores.
While Harbaugh acknowledged league rules permit him from talking about football with his quarterback at this point in the offseason, the coach is watching the videos Jackson posts from offseason training sessions on Instagram.MORE NEWS: Pasadena Teen Awaits Transplant After Kidneys Fail
“I’m watching every bit of it,” he said, “and I’m excited to see it.”