Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Less than a week before the season opener, quarterback Lamar Jackson was throwing passes on the practice field Monday for the Baltimore Ravens, once again showing that he is was focused on playing for the Ravens this season despite not having a contract extension.
After practice on Monday, Ravens coach John Harbaugh was asked if there had ever been any discussion that Jackson would hold on and not play this season without a new deal.
“No,” Harbaugh said before adding, “Lamar said he’s focused on the season, he’s under contract and he’s going to have the best season possible. He’s hoping to get a new contract and we’re hoping to get him a new contract. Everything else is business. There’s nothing else but to come up with something that’s mutually agreeable.
Jackson missed voluntary practices this spring for the first time in his five-year career, but the former NFL MVP showed up on time for training camp and didn’t miss a practice. all summer.
Harbaugh isn’t sure if talks between the Ravens and Jackson have been put on hold. Last month, Jackson said Week 1 would be the end point of negotiations until the end of the regular season.
“I don’t have any updates,” Harbaugh said. “My interactions with Lamar have been football-only. He’s focused and locked in on that, 100 per cent, from a football perspective.”
Jackson is one of the few NFL players without an agent and represents himself. He is expected to speak with reporters on Wednesday.
Neither Jackson officials nor the Ravens have ever hinted at any animosity in the negotiations, which is why Harbaugh said you don’t hear “conflicting reports.”
“He’s hoping to get a new contract; we’re hoping to get him a new contract,” Harbaugh said. “But everything else is business. There’s nothing else but to come up with something that’s mutually agreeable. That’s how all these deals are made. So obviously I have a lot of hope, and I know everyone is really hoping you do it.”
In March, Deshaun Watson reset the quarterback market by signing a record-breaking, five-year, $230 million, fully guaranteed contract. Soon after, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti admitted that Watson’s deal complicated future negotiations with the quarterbacks.
The two franchise quarterbacks who have signed deals most recently since — Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson — both received less guaranteed money than Watson. Murray got $189.5 million guaranteed in July and Wilson got $165 million guaranteed on Thursday.
Jackson is playing on his fifth-year option, which will earn him $23.016 million this season. If the parties fail to reach a new agreement by next March, Baltimore will have to put the franchise tag on Jackson to prevent him from becoming a free agent. Jackson would receive $45 million under the exclusive label.
“Being around him here and also next to him in the locker room, he’s calm, cool and composed,” offensive tackle Morgan Moses said of Jackson’s handling of contract negotiations. “It’s not a better feeling than seeing your quarterback going out every day and being ready to work.”
With Jackson, the Ravens have high expectations going into the season. Outside linebacker Justin Houston even guaranteed a Super Bowl victory.
“I firmly believe that the power of language speaks life and death,” said Houston, who is entering her 12th season in the NFL. “So, we’re going to get this ring this year. I’m tired of hoping and wishing we got it. I’m going to make it happen.”