The Baltimore Ravens season came to a close last weekend at the hands of the Bengals, and now they enter the offseason as arguably the most intriguing team in the league. The key reason for that is due to the uncertain status of Lamar Jackson, who is currently without a contract heading into 2023. There's been rampant speculation about what the team and Jackson may do going forward, whether that be actually inking a long-term extension or exploring a trade that lands the former MVP elsewhere.
On Thursday, head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Eric DeCosta held their end-of-year press conference and, as you may expect, were peppered with questions about Jackson. They made it clear that their hope is for Jackson to stay with the team in 2023 and beyond, with DeCosta noting that the team is "excited to start up negotiations again with Lamar Jackson."
"Our focus right now is to get a long-term deal done," said DeCosta. "That's our singular focus at this point. It's going to take some time, it's going to take some effort, and it's going to take great communication, give and take, but I'm confident that we'll be on the right path to get that done."
DeCosta added that he "truly believes that Lamar wants to finish his career in Baltimore" and would not discuss whether the team would entertain trade offers for him. He did note that these types of negotiations have ebbs and flows that could make it a longer process.
"Well, it certainly takes two to tango, but I think Lamar and I have a great relationship," he said. "We communicate quite often. We spent some time together today as a matter of fact. We've spoken throughout the season multiple times and, you know, these negotiations they all happen differently. Ronnie Stanley's contract took about a year and a half. Mark Andrews' contract took probably three or four days. We did Roquan [Smith]'s contract over the span of six days over the course of one month basically is what we did. So, they happen in different ways.
"I wouldn't characterize the percentages of getting any deal done, how long that's going to take except to say that we'll continue to communicate effectively, we'll be as fair as we can be, and we'll try to hammer out a deal. Hopefully, we can get to that point."
For his part, Harbaugh reiterated that Jackson is the quarterback he wants the team to build around. In fact, Harbaugh said he's "200%" sure of it.
"Lamar Jackson is our quarterback. He's been our quarterback. Everything we've done in terms of building our offense, building our team, how we think in terms of people, and putting people around him is based on this incredible young man and his talent and his ability and his competitiveness. He and I were talking today, too, and the thing about Lamar that really stand out -- he's an incredible competitor. I mean, Lamar Jackson, all he wants to do is win at everything he does. Yeah, he's got a lot of talent, he's a very bright guy, he's got a big heart. But he's just a massive competitor. And that's the kind of guys we want to build this team around.
"... I don't know anything about the details about the whole thing, but I know one thing: I'm like the fans out there and everybody else. I'll have my fingers crossed and my toes crossed, and I'll be saying prayers, and I have every faith that it's going to get done. We've got the best people in the world doing it."
DeCosta said he thinks about whether to use the franchise tag on Jackson "every day." If Baltimore used the exclusive tag on Jackson, he'd be owed around $45 million fully guaranteed. If it used the non-exclusive tag, it'd be around $32 million guaranteed, but a team could swoop in and sign him, leaving the organization exposed to losing him.
So, while the Ravens brass may be reiterating their desire to keep Jackson around, this situation could still take many twists and turns before a resolution is ultimately met.