Lamar Jackson's Ravens OTA Absence Downplayed by Sashi Brown amid Contract Talks

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 26, 2022

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 05:  Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens in action during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 5, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens president Sashi Brown isn't sweating the fact that quarterback Lamar Jackson is not participating in voluntary OTAs.

According to ESPN's Jamison Hensley, Brown commented on Jackson's absence Thursday, saying: "Voluntary does mean voluntary. Lamar's been out working this offseason … so no, I don't think any reason for alarm."

Brown went on to add: "He's been very vocal in terms of his support and desire to be in Baltimore. We're pleased that he's out there working and not going to make a big deal out of this."

Jackson is set to enter the final year of his rookie contract in 2022 and is undoubtedly in search of a long-term extension.

Per Spotrac, Jackson will earn $23 million in 2022 by virtue of the Ravens exercising their fifth-year option in his deal.

The 2018 NFL draft was heralded as an elite class for quarterbacks, but so far Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills is the only signal-caller selected in the first round of that draft to get a second contract.

Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen are all either gone or about to be gone from the teams that drafted them, leaving Allen and Jackson as the two most-accomplished quarterbacks in the draft by a long shot.

There are some concerns when it comes to Jackson and his long-term viability, but there is no denying the success he has enjoyed over his first four NFL seasons.

Jackson took the Ravens to playoffs in three straight seasons from 2018 to 2021, and with Jackson missing five games because of injury last season, the Ravens missed out on the playoffs with an 8-9 record, underscoring Jackson's importance.

After taking over as the starter for Joe Flacco during his rookie season and going 6-1, Jackson enjoyed an all-time great campaign in 2019.

In addition to going 13-2 as a starter that season, Jackson completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 3,127 yards, a league-high 36 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He also rushed for 1,206 yards and seven scores, earning him Pro Bowl, First Team All-Pro and NFL MVP honors.

Jackson and the Ravens lost their first playoff game for the second consecutive season, however, which put pressure on them to go on a deeper run the following season.

While the numbers weren't quite as gaudy for Jackson in 2020, he still managed to go 11-4 and throw for 2,757 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions to go along with 1,005 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

Jackson also earned his first career playoff win, although he and the Ravens fell to Allen and the Bills in the AFC Divisional Round of the playoffs.

After seeming poised for a monster contract entering the 2021 season, Jackson's play may have given the Ravens some pause, as he went just 7-5 as a starter and threw 16 touchdowns compared to a career-high 13 interceptions.

Jackson also struggled to stay healthy, realizing some of the fears that come along with a quarterback who runs as often as Jackson does.

There is little doubt that Jackson still gives the Ravens the best chance to win now and in the future, but the fact that Baltimore has waited this long to get a deal done has raised some questions about the organization's commitment to Jackson.

Jackson hasn't given any indication that he intends to hold out if the Ravens don't sign him to an extension before the 2022 season, but skipping OTAs may be Jackson's way of showing that he has leverage if he wants to use it.