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

Lamar Jackson will be the Ravens’ long-term quarterback after he and the team agreed to a five-year contract extension, the team announced Thursday.

Terms of the deal were not immediately announced.

Although general manager Eric DeCosta has said an extension is his all-consuming goal, there has been little sign of progress in negotiations, which have stalled for more than a year as Jackson, who is representing himself, sought a deal that would- making him one of the highest paid players in NFL history.

The Ravens were set for a murky and perhaps painful offseason, with Jackson’s future in Baltimore an uncertain and difficult roster spot on the table due to a $32.4 million non-exclusive franchise tag the quarterback received on March 7 . Jackson tweeted before the NFL owners meetings last month. 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 who was expected to be the next big star in Baltimore 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.

At the end-of-season press conference in January, DeCosta and Harbaugh acknowledged the complexity of the ongoing negotiations with Jackson, but said they were committed to building the future of the franchise around him.

“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.”

While the expansion won’t give the Ravens room to party exuberantly, it will give them flexibility.

“Any deal with Lamar will affect the salary cap, whether we do a long-term deal or do an exclusive franchise. [tag] or the traditional franchise [tag], will affect the cap,” DeCosta said in January. “These are big, big numbers. We’re lucky, I think we have a better salary cap [situation] than most. We have a lot more space than most teams have, which was by design three or four years ago.”

The teammates were clear about what they wanted.

“You can’t let a guy like him go,” veteran defensive end Calais Campbell said. “I know it’s football and there’s always an exciting new toy, an exciting new kid who has the potential to go out there and be great, but this one is definitely an established one. You know Lamar Jackson is an incredible player. I think it’s in the best interest of the Ravens organization to give him a long-term contract and make him our guy.”

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

The only key piece who said little was Jackson, who hadn’t spoken to reporters since Friday before suffering a season-ending knee injury the first weekend in December. The Ravens made the playoffs and pushed the Cincinnati Bengals to the limit in the 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 has passed, the questions will turn to football issues like Jackson’s fit with new offensive coordinator Todd Monken and the Ravens’ 2023 Super Bowl prospects.

This story will be updated.


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