Ravens ‘200 percent’ sure Lamar Jackson will reach long-term deal
John Harbaugh is “100 percent” certain — and then some — that Lamar Jackson will remain the nucleus of the Ravens for years to come.
“You know, 200%,” Harbaugh, Baltimore’s head coach, said during a joint press conference with executive vice president and general manager Eric DeCosta on Thursday.
Harbaugh and DeCosta spent a chunk of their media availability voicing optimism and hope that the team and Jackson will agree to a long-term deal. Jackson missed the final five games, as well as Baltimore’s postseason game against Cincinnati, due to a PCL sprain sustained in Week 13, and his continued absence caused speculation about whether the star quarterback had played his final game with the organization that drafted him in 2018.
“Lamar Jackson is our quarterback,” Harbaugh said. “He’s been our quarterback. Everything we’ve done in terms of building our offense and building our team, how we think in terms of the people and put people around him, is based on this incredible young man and his talent and his ability and his competitiveness.”
DeCosta said that he and Jackson have a “great relationship” and “communicate quite often,” and he added in his first answer that he was “excited” to resume negotiations with Jackson — including a conversation that transpired Thursday.
Jackson will also be involved, to a degree, with the selection of Baltimore’s next offensive coordinator, Harbaugh said. The Ravens parted ways with Greg Roman on Thursday after six seasons with the team and four as their offensive coordinator. Following Jackson’s injury, Baltimore’s quarterback play and offense struggled, with Tyler Huntley and Anthony Brown logging snaps without generating much success.
That reintroduced the daunting scenario of operating without Jackson moving forward. He spent the season playing through a contract year, as the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement before Jackson’s self-imposed deadline at the beginning of the season.
When searching for their next offensive coordinator, Harbaugh said Baltimore will “cast a wide net” to fill what he considers to be “one of the top football coaching jobs in the world.”
“This is gonna be a highly sought-after job,” Harbaugh said. “… Everybody’s gonna want this job.”
That’ll hinge on DeCosta and the Ravens’ front office maneuvering another extension, though. During the season, the Ravens negotiated a deal with linebacker Roquan Smith — a five-year, $100 million agreement — and that left the franchise tag available to use on Jackson if needed.
“Eric wants him here,” Harbaugh said. “I want him here. (Owner) Steve (Bisciotti) wants him here. And Lamar wants to be here. So it’s gonna work out.”
Baltimore clinched the No. 6 seed in the AFC, and its season ended with a loss to Cincinnati in the wild-card round. The Ravens kept the game tied through three quarters, but when Huntley tried a quarterback sneak for the lead, Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard scooped up a fumble and returned it 98 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
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