Lamar Jackson and Ravens agree to 5-year contract, ending difficult conflict with their franchise player

A month after telling the world he wanted to be traded to a new NFL home, Lamar Jackson raised a Ravens-branded football, laughed and said how excited he was to return to the city where he captivated fans and won games in the past. five years.

Jackson will be the Ravens’ long-term quarterback after agreeing to a five-year contract extension, the team announced Thursday, bringing an abrupt and happy end to more than a year of complex negotiations that clouded the franchise’s future and worn out the fans. ‘nerves.

Terms of the deal were not immediately announced, but ESPN reported that Jackson will receive $260 million with $185 million guaranteed, figures that would push him over the $255 million extension that Jalen Hurts was deal with the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback earlier this month and would make the Ravens quarterback the biggest. -highest paid player in NFL history.

“You know, the last few months, there’s been a lot of he-said, she-said, nail-biting, head-scratching,” Jackson said in a video posted by the team. “But for the next five years, there’s a lot of ‘Flock’ going on.” Let’s go, baby. I can’t wait to get there. I can’t wait to be there. I can’t wait to fire up M&T Bank [Stadium] for the next five years. Let’s take it.”

News of the extension came as the Ravens prepared to make the first pick in the NFL draft and two weeks after signing a superstar target for Jackson, wide receiver Odell Beckham a $15 million deal.

General manager Eric DeCosta said an extension for Jackson was his goal this offseason. But there has been little sign of progress in the negotiations, which have dragged on for more than a year, as Jackson, who is representing himself, sought a lucrative deal.

The Ravens were set for a murky and perhaps painful offseason, with Jackson’s future in Baltimore uncertain and difficult to cut on the table due to a $32.4 million non-exclusive franchise tag the quarterback received March 7. Jackson tweeted before last month’s NFL owners meetings that he asked to be traded on March 2nd because the team “wasn’t interested in meeting my value.” Fans prepared to say goodbye to an athlete previously expected to be Baltimore’s next big star from a line with names like Lewis, Ripken, Robinson and Unitas.

Instead, a difficult negotiation ended abruptly and the Ravens got what DeCosta and coach John Harbaugh said they wanted all along — a clear track to build around Jackson’s amazing talents as a runner and passer. Although the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player has not finished either of the past two seasons due to injuries, he is 45-16 as the Ravens’ starter and they have made the playoffs in four of his five seasons.

Five years ago, the Ravens made a bold trade to add the No. 32, which they used to anoint Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, as the successor to February 2013 Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco.

“They want to take a Super Bowl out of me, believe it,” Jackson said that draft night after donning a Ravens cap for the first time and jumping on stage to shake NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s hand.

Now, the 26-year-old superstar will be clear to pursue that goal with his financial future secure and knowing the Ravens are determined to build everything around him.

At their end-of-season press conference in January, DeCosta and Harbaugh acknowledged the complexity of the ongoing negotiations with Jackson.

“Everything we’ve done as far as building the offense and building our team, how we think in terms of [bringing in] people and putting people around him is based on this incredible young man, his talent, his ability and his competitiveness,” Harbaugh said. “I’ll have my fingers crossed, and my toes crossed, and I’ll say prayers. I have every confidence that it will happen and we have the best people in the world to do it. Eric DeCosta, there is no one better. Eric wants it here, I want it here [Ravens owner] patience [Bisciotti] he wants him here and Lamar wants him here. So, it will work out.”

The coach and general manager reiterated that commitment when they hired Todd Monken to replace Greg Roman as offensive coordinator and when they signed Beckham, who shared an emotional FaceTime call with Jackson the night he accepted to join the Ravens.

While the expansion won’t give the Ravens room to party exuberantly, it will give them flexibility. Using the franchise tag to keep Jackson off the free-agent market, DeCosta got $32.4 million when the free-agent shopping window opened in March. The Ravens have had to make tough belt-tightening decisions, especially cutting veteran defensive end Calais Campbell to create $7 million in salary cap space. They will still need to plan carefully to build around Jackson’s salary, easily the largest in team history (Flacco previously signed the Ravens’ largest contract, five years for $120.6 million in 2013 ), but the structure of the deal will likely allow them to add more quality players for 2023.

Teammates have made it clear they want Jackson back, and many shared exuberant reactions on social media when news of his extension broke.

“Truzzzz,” Beckham tweeted, using Jackson’s catchphrase of celebration.

“Did you all think he was leaving?” cornerback Marlon Humphrey added on Twitter. “All you Ravens fans out there [Eric DeCosta] fired where are you???

Tight end Mark Andrews joked at the Pro Bowl that he would donate his salary to keep Jackson in town.

The only key part who said little was Jackson, who hadn’t spoken to reporters since the first Friday in December shortly before suffering a season-ending knee injury. The Ravens made the playoffs and pushed the Cincinnati Bengals to the limit in the AFC wild-card round with Tyler Huntley at quarterback. But the uncertainty surrounding Jackson’s next step looms over every game he hasn’t played.

He last addressed his contract situation in September when he and the Ravens failed to come to terms on an extension before the season opener.

“I don’t know,” he said when asked if a deal was close. “I do not know.”

Now that the uncertainty is in the past, the questions will turn to football matters like Jackson’s fit with the new offensive coordinator and the Ravens’ Super Bowl prospects for 2023 and beyond.


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