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Lamar Jackson Sounds Off on Criticism over Missing Ravens OTAs amid Contract Talks

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 27, 2022

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 05:  Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens looks on 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 quarterback Lamar Jackson responded Friday to criticism from NBC Sports' Chris Simms about his decision to skip the start of organized team activities.

Lamar Jackson @Lj_era8

Lamar wants to be Lamar Chris. This part of OTAs is Voluntary my Guy I will be there, just not on your watch itโ€™s probably other QBs not attending Voluntary OTAs either but since itโ€™s Lamar itโ€™s a huge deal. Find something else to talk about๐Ÿ™„ <a href="https://t.co/2Nx2b767bb">https://t.co/2Nx2b767bb</a>

Jackson is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and there's uncertainty about the nature of extension talks between the Ravens and the 2019 NFL MVP.

While players often skip the voluntary portion of offseason practices when they're seeking a new deal, there's been speculation Jackson has so far been unwilling to seriously engage in discussions.

In April, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported Baltimore is "ready, willing and able" to pay Jackson, but the two-time Pro Bowl selection "won't even start" the negotiation process, and there's been no indication of whether that's changed over the past month.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh provided a blunt response Wednesday when asked about Jackson's absence from this week's workouts.

'We've been down this road many times through the years," Harbaugh told reporters. "I'll just let Lamar speak for himself on that. It's for him to talk about. You can ask him."

Jackson posted a positive reply on Twitter to Baltimore's team account highlighting the start of OTAs:

Lamar Jackson @Lj_era8

Canโ€™t wait to get back๐Ÿ˜ฎโ€๐Ÿ’จ๐Ÿš€๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ–ค <a href="https://t.co/Nb6gG50uYc">https://t.co/Nb6gG50uYc</a>

The 25-year-old Florida native's NFL career is off to a terrific start. He's recorded 105 total touchdowns (84 passing and 21 rushing) in 58 games (49 starts) since the Ravens selected him in the first round of the 2018 draft.

He missed five games last season because of injury and saw his numbers dip from their levels over the previous two years. Baltimore also fell short of the playoffs with an 8-9 record.

So, it may not be an ideal time for Jackson to enter contract talks, though his overall resume still warrants a lucrative long-term extension.

Yet, if the decision to table those discussions comes from his side, the reason behind his decision to skip OTAs becomes more of a mystery.