Lamar Jackson

No Talks Between Ravens, Lamar Jackson?

The Ravens are said to be far apart in extension talks with Lamar Jackson. According to a source who spoke with Mike Florio of PFT, those discussions haven’t actually started yet. 

[RELATED: Ravens, Jackson Far Apart?]

Often times, conflicting reports like these are a matter of semantics. Do broader conversations about years/dollars qualify as negotiations? That depends on who you ask. But, as Florio notes, Jackson does not have an agent, so it’s hard to imagine that the Ravens have gotten especially deep in talks.

As it stands, Jackson is set to make just $1.77MM this year. In 2022, per the new collective bargaining agreement, his fifth-year option will be equivalent to the quarterback transition tender for 2021. Jackson triggered that by making a Pro Bowl. The QB transition tender was worth $21.75MM last year. This year, after the cap reduction, it should still fall somewhere near $20MM.

The higher value of the fifth-year option gives Jackson some additional leverage. It’s likely that he’ll seek a deal in the range of Deshaun Watson‘s four-year, $156MM extension. Watson’s pact gave him a $39MM average annual value and included a healthy $73MM guaranteed at signing. But, as of this writing, it sounds like the two sides have yet to truly engage.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens, Jackson Far Apart On Extension?

John Harbaugh said the Ravens will explore an extension with Lamar Jackson either this year or next. It looks like the sides are already talking.

The Ravens and their MVP quarterback have begun discussing a new deal, but Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes the sides are far apart at this juncture. Jackson, who became extension-eligible in January, is due just a $1.77MM base salary in 2021. The Ravens will surely pick up his fifth-year option by May, locking him down through 2022.

Since taking the reins of Baltimore’s offense midway through his rookie season, Jackson has played the centerpiece role in the team’s ascent in that time. The Ravens missed the playoffs from 2015-17, and while they have assembled high-end defenses during Jackson’s years, his historically elite rushing talents and improvement as a passer have re-established the team as an AFC power. Some factors could work against a Jackson deal being done soon, though.

While it would make sense for Jackson to secure an extension ahead of making that low-end base salary this season, a few recent quarterback re-ups have gone quite poorly. Carson Wentz and Jared Goff both regressed after signing big-ticket extensions ahead of their fourth seasons. They are now on other teams, with the trades forcing the Eagles and Rams to eat record-setting dead-money sums. A clear Jackson peer, Deshaun Watson has requested a trade less than six months after signing a $39MM-per-year Texans extension. That development figures to at least give teams pause. On the other end of this, the Cowboys’ near-two-year run of negotiations with Dak Prescott has driven up the QB’s price immensely.

Watson’s deal would make sense as a floor for Jackson, even though the former has shown far more as a passer to this point. The imminent salary cap reduction has long been expected to be a one-year blip, and the anticipated run of TV deals should do plenty to boost the 2022-and-beyond caps. Jackson and Josh Allen stand to benefit. And the Bills’ talks with their quarterback, expected this year, will pertain to Jackson. Allen has not offered as much consistency as Jackson, though the Buffalo passer rocketed onto his 2018 draft classmate’s level with a dominant 2020 season. Both QBs entering their fourth seasons will tie together their respective negotiations.

The Ravens have already extended two other cornerstone players — Ronnie Stanley and Marlon Humphrey — but they have a key issue at edge rusher to navigate soon. Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue are free agents; so are two key backups. Baltimore also has an extra year to negotiate with Jackson; the team does not have that luxury with Mark Andrews, a third-round pick entering a contract year. Jackson, though, represents this puzzle’s biggest piece. His talks with the Ravens will be a key NFL matter in the coming weeks/months.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

John Harbaugh On Roman, Jackson, WRs

John Harbaugh shut down the prospect of the Ravens revamping their offense on Wednesday. Greg Roman will be back for a third season as Baltimore’s offensive coordinator, Harbaugh said (via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic).

Roman garnered interest for HC positions last year, following Lamar Jackson‘s unanimous MVP season. But Jackson’s less dominant 2020, and another Ravens playoff game involving offensive struggles, has lowered Roman’s stock. No teams reached out to him about a head coaching position this year. Nevertheless, the veteran assistant will be the team’s OC for the 2021 season. Harbaugh does not expect changes to his offensive staff, Zrebiec adds, though the Lions have interviewed QBs coach James Urban for their OC job.

The 13-year Ravens HC also said the team will extend Jackson either this year or in the 2022 offseason. Although Jackson experienced inconsistency this season, he remains in line for a monster extension.

With the Bills set to explore a Josh Allen re-up this year, Jackson would stand to benefit. The prospect of the salary cap returning to its usual growth in 2022 would increase Jackson’s earning potential as well. The Ravens will pick up Jackson’s fully guaranteed fifth-year option by May, extending his rookie contract through 2022.

The Ravens, however, are coming off another disappointing playoff loss that featured its run-centric offense unable to keep pace. (Though, Jackson’s concussion obviously affected the Ravens’ ability to do so.) The team features one of the NFL’s lowest-profile receiving corps, and although the upcoming free agency market could well include several high-end wideouts, the Ravens are not in a strong position to convince one to join their unique offense.

Still, Harbaugh said the team could target a possession-type receiver to play alongside Marquise Brown.

I think a big, physical receiver would be awesome for us. We can use anybody who is talented and good,” Harbaugh said. “… I’m not going to beg anybody to be here. I’m not a college coach and I don’t have to recruit anybody. If you want to win, if you want to be part of a great organization and you want to be part of a team, you want to love coming to work every single day and you love football, playing in the AFC North, come here.

If you don’t, if you’re all worried about stats and numbers and your stat line and how many balls you catch necessarily and that’s all you care for, then there’s a lot of other teams you can play for and we’re looking forward to lining up against you.”

Brown led the Ravens in receiving, with 769 yards, this season. The team has featured just one receiver (Brown) surpass 500 yards in each of the past two seasons. Willie Snead is not under contract for the ’21 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens To Explore Extension For Lamar Jackson

The Ravens were eliminated from the playoffs last night in a game that raised more questions than it answered about quarterback Lamar Jackson‘s ability to win in the playoffs. Although it appeared that Jackson had put that narrative to bed with his team’s victory over the Titans in last week’s wildcard round, the naysayers are back in full force following Baltimore’s loss to the Bills, which included a Jackson pick-six that turned what could have been a tied score or a 10-6 deficit into a 17-3 game.

Never mind that the game also featured a plethora of bad snaps from center Patrick Mekari, poor pass-blocking from the Ravens’ O-line, two missed field goals by the normally automatic Justin Tucker, and a dropped pass that set up the Bills’ first score. Never mind that offensive coordinator Greg Roman, whose passing game concepts and questionable play-calling undermine his strengths in the run game, seems to get outcoached against good teams. Never mind that Jackson’s best skill-position players are also playing on their rookie deals, and that Peyton Manning didn’t win his first playoff game until his sixth professional season.

Yes, Jackson still needs to improve as a passer. The pick-six was on him and was a devastating blow. But he won the league MVP last year, his age-22 season. He is a dynamic playmaker who has shown plenty of flashes of top-tier ability throwing the ball, even if he never becomes Manning in that regard. He posted nearly a 3:1 TD-to-INT ratio this year en route to a 99.3 quarterback rating, and he became the first QB in league history to rush for 1,000 yards in multiple seasons. He is also a high-character leader who has the full respect of his teammates, and there is reason to believe he will continue polishing his right arm.

The Ravens appear to agree, as they are expected to explore an extension for their young signal-caller this offseason, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link). That would seem to fall under the “no duh” category of NFL reports, but it’s worth noting nonetheless. Baltimore GM Eric DeCosta has made it a point to be proactive with extensions for key players, and locking up Jackson in a year when the salary cap will decrease or remain the same could be to the Ravens’ advantage.

As Rapoport notes, Jackson represented himself when negotiating his rookie deal, and it remains to be seen if he will hire an agent before discussions about his second contract commence. One way or another, it would seem that Deshaun Watson‘s re-up with the Texans is the best comp. Watson’s extension was a four-year add-on worth $156MM (a $39MM AAV) and featured $73MM guaranteed at signing. Look for Jackson’s new deal to include similar figures.

Assuming player and team do not have an extension in place by the deadline to exercise fifth-year options in May, that will obviously be a no-brainer decision for the Ravens. Jackson’s fifth-year option, which would go into effect for the 2022 season, would be fully guaranteed — since he is a member of the 2018 draft class — and would be worth about $25MM (as Albert Breer of SI.com notes on Twitter). But that will almost certainly be more of a placeholder than anything else, as a new deal should be consummated prior to the 2022 campaign.

The Ravens will have plenty of other contractual issues to hash out in the coming months. Pass rushers Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue are eligible for unrestricted free agency, and TE Mark Andrews and OT Orlando Brown may be seeking extensions of their own.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lamar Jackson Expected To Return This Week

The Ravens are slowly getting healthier. After a COVID-19 outbreak decimated Baltimore’s roster and forced the team to field a JV squad against the Steelers on Wednesday — a game that was postponed multiple times — the Ravens activated several key players yesterday. And Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter) that quarterback Lamar Jackson is expected to come off the reserve/COVID-19 list and start against the Cowboys on Tuesday.

Jackson tested positive for the coronavirus on Thanksgiving and has now completed his 10-day quarantine. He can practice today and participate in Monday’s walkthrough in preparation for the matchup with Dallas.

The reigning league MVP has not been nearly as successful this season as he was in his 2019 coming-out party, but he remains a dynamic talent whose presence makes Baltimore a difficult out, regardless of opponent. Though the Ravens have fallen to 6-5 after a 5-1 start to the season, all but one of their defeats have come by less than a score.

Baltimore has a manageable schedule the rest of the way, with games against the Cowboys, Jaguars, Giants, and Bengals upcoming. As such, the Ravens still have a good chance at securing a playoff berth, and having Jackson under center will go a long way towards achieving that goal.

Meanwhile, the NFL-NFLPA investigation into the Ravens’ violation of COVID-19 protocols will take weeks to wrap up, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports. We have learned that the coronavirus outbreak was largely transmitted by a strength coach who reportedly came into the team’s facility despite being ill and who did not adhere to facemask protocols. That coach has since been suspended, but several players told their agents and the union that they are also concerned about chaplains and nutritionists not following all facemask and social distancing requirements.

The league has made it clear that the Ravens have been extremely cooperative and forthcoming in the investigation, and the belief is that the outbreak is contained. Nonetheless, Baltimore will likely face at least a heavy fine as punishment for the protocol violations.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Bevell, Lewis, Ravens, Browns

The first Lions interim head coach in 15 years, Darrell Bevell will have five games to run the team. While it should be expected the Lions go in a different direction when they make a full-time hire in 2021, Bevell said team president Rod Wood informed him he is not out of the picture for the permanent gig, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter). Although Bevell was a Matt Patricia hire, the former Seahawks offensive coordinator did not join the Lions until Patricia’s second season. Prior to Bevell spending seven seasons as Seattle’s OC, he oversaw the Vikings’ Brett Favre offenses and held that job for five seasons. His latest offense ranks 20th, though it has been without Kenny Golladay for a big chunk of the season.

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • Mike Zimmer replaced defensive coordinator George Edwards by dividing the DC duties between his son (Adam Zimmer) and Andre Patterson. But the Vikings HC wanted a more experienced hand in the room, even before Edwards’ exit. Prior to Edwards’ 2020 departure, Mike Zimmer wanted to hire his former boss — ex-Bengals HC Marvin Lewis — as a defensive assistant, Dan Pompei of The Athletic notes (subscription required). This interest came in 2019, and Zimmer sought Lewis for a part-time role, Pompei adds. Lewis ended up on Herm Edwards‘ Arizona State staff, in an advisory role, last year and is now the Sun Devils’ co-defensive coordinator.
  • Robert Griffin III indeed suffered a hamstring pull in the Ravens‘ Wednesday loss to the Steelers, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. He is not expected to practice when Baltimore reconvenes for workouts. The earliest Lamar Jackson could practice would be Sunday, which would give the Ravens starter one full practice and a Monday walkthrough in advance of a Tuesday return against the Cowboys. It is not known if Jackson will be ready by then, but he will be eligible to return after testing positive for the coronavirus on Nov. 26.
  • The Browns will not have one of their starters for a while. They placed Ronnie Harrison on IR this week, and Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes the third-year safety’s shoulder injury is expected to keep him out between four and six weeks. This is a big setback for the Browns; Pro Football Focus slots Harrison as its 12th-highest-graded safety this season. Cleveland’s secondary is already down Denzel Ward, who is rehabbing a calf strain.
  • Joe Burrow underwent surgery on his injured knee Wednesday, the Bengals announced in a brief statement. The No. 1 overall pick suffered ACL and MCL tears as well as other structural damage. He is not expected to be ready to return until around the start of next season.
  • Seeking kicker insurance in the COVID-19 era, the Packers worked out Roberto Aguayo, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes. The Packers, who have used Mason Crosby as their kicker since 2007, do not have a kicker on their practice squad currently. Aguayo has not caught on with a team since the Chargers cut him in 2018; the former second-round pick has not kicked in a game since his 2016 rookie season.

Ravens, Steelers Place 3 Players On Reserve/COVID-19 List

5:52pm: While a sixth straight day did produce a Ravens positive coronavirus test, just one player’s test came back positive Friday. Practice squad offensive lineman Will Holden tested positive, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). Holden will become the 15th player on Baltimore’s reserve/COVID-19 list. This will continue to be the NFL situation to monitor over the next few days.

3:28pm: The Ravens and Steelers each moved three players to their respective reserve/COVID-19 lists Friday. This comes shortly after the NFL pushed the AFC North’s top rivalry back to Tuesday night.

Stephon Tuitt, defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs and offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins are now on the Steelers’ virus list, while the Ravens moved fullback Patrick Ricard, long snapper Morgan Cox and defensive tackle Justin Madubuike to theirs. Lamar Jackson also landed on Baltimore’s COVID list. The reigning MVP tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday; Ricard confirmed (via Twitter) he tested positive as well.

For the Ravens, this increases their COVID list to 14 players — including key cogs Jackson, Ricard, Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, Matt Skura, Pernell McPhee, Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins. This concerning number resulted in the NFL moving the Ravens-Steelers rematch for a second time. The 7pm Tuesday slot, however, represents conceivably the final Week 12 window for this game. Another delay would test the NFL in a way previous virus issues have not.

It is not known if Tuitt tested positive. If he did not, he could still play Tuesday. Depending on when the standout defensive lineman’s last contact with a COVID-19-positive person occurred, he could still be activated in time for the Steelers’ Tuesday game. With the NFL moving Week 13’s Ravens-Cowboys game to Monday, Dec. 7, Jackson could be activated. Had the NFL kept that game on Thursday — which it will if the Steelers-Ravens tilt cannot be played Tuesday — Jackson would have been ineligible to return for that contest.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Steelers, Ravens

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin canceled Friday’s practice, per a club announcement. The Steelers are currently slated to face the Ravens on Sunday afternoon, but they don’t have much confidence in the game actually taking place. 

Four Ravens players tested positive for COVID-19 on Thanksgiving, including star quarterback Lamar Jackson. Before that, the Ravens were forced to shelve nose tackle Brandon Williams, defensive end Calais Campbell, and running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins on the reserve list. Other Ravens staffers were also kept away from the facility, leaving the NFL to bump Steelers-Ravens from Thursday night to early Sunday afternoon. All in all, the Ravens have placed ten players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including eight starters.

At this stage, it would be a surprise to see the two teams square off on Sunday. The league may compel the Ravens to forfeit the game, which would declare the Steelers as the winner by a score of 2-0. And, per the terms of the NFL’s agreement with the NFLPA, the teams would not be required to pay its players for a forfeited contest.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens’ Lamar Jackson Still Pushing For Antonio Brown

After some consideration, the Ravens decided to pass on Antonio Brown earlier this summer. For what it’s worth, Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson hasn’t given up hope of bringing AB to Baltimore. 

It was nice throwing to Antonio Brown [this offseason],” Jackson said on Wednesday morning (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley). “I was hoping we would get him. I’m still hoping — a little bit.”

Brown’s talent is undeniable, but the complications that come along with him are impossible to ignore. Just recently, Brown announced his retirement from the NFL, only to reverse course three days later. Brown – who now says he’s ready to play – has called it quits at least three times since September of last year.

Jackson lobbied hard for Brown following their offseason workouts. Antonio’s cousin, Marquise Brown, agrees, and he would like to make it a family affair. Still, the four-time All-Pro and would-be future Hall of Famer remains in limbo with Roger Goodell. Even if the Ravens wanted to ignite a media circus and risk the potential headaches, they would not be able to bank on Brown’s early season availability. When the NFL finally rules on Brown’s situation, it stands to reason that he’ll face a suspension.

The Ravens have Hollywood and Willie Snead, but the run game is their bread-and-butter. One could argue that they don’t need Brown. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine anyone being able to keep a lid on their offense with a productive Brown in the lineup.

The Seahawks have also been connected to Brown, and Russell Wilson has advocated for him. Still, it’s not clear if the Seahawks are entertaining the possibility.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lamar Jackson: “I’d Be Happy” If Ravens Signed Antonio Brown

On Tuesday, Lamar Jackson told reporters that he would be in favor of the Ravens signing Antonio Brown (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic). Of course, that wouldn’t be the quarterback’s call, but his endorsement is noteworthy nonetheless.

[RELATED: Antonio Brown Hires New Agent]

I’d be happy if they signed him,” Jackson said. “But it’s not my decision.”

This isn’t the first time that Brown has been connected to Baltimore. Recently, Jackson worked out with the controversial wide receiver in South Florida, along with AB’s cousin, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. Meanwhile, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta has refused to comment on his own level of interest in the one-time superstar. Earlier this month, he said that he’d keep those thoughts “in-house” while continuing to explore options at the position.

Do we feel the urgency? We probably feel that with every position,” the GM told the team website. “We want to be the best we can be at every position. This happens to be a wide receiver class with a lot of really good players. If we’re on the clock and we think that guy is the best player, we’ll probably pick him. Hopefully we can build our offense to the point where we can say, ‘Hey, we’re un-defendable.’”

Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowler, is still in limbo with the league office. Recently, he hired a new agent to represent him, and he’s hoping that will expedite his case with Roger Goodell & Co.

Speaking strictly from a football perspective, Brown would boost any offense – including the Ravens’ world-class unit. He has caught 841 passes for 11,253 yards over the course of his ten-year NFL career, with a good chunk of those coming against Baltimore.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.