Lamar Jackson Rumors: 'Uncertain' Ravens Meet Contract Price; QB Isn't Scared of Tag

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJune 10, 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 quarterback Lamar Jackson is reportedly prepared to handle his contract situation on a year-to-year basis if the team doesn't meet his asking price on a long-term extension.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported an update Friday on SportsCenter about the sluggish negotiations between the Ravens and Jackson, who's set to enter the final year of his rookie deal in 2022:

"I spoke to a source who said Lamar Jackson is prepared to remain patient. He's not overly eager, still, to do a deal, even though the Ravens would like this to heat up some time in the next six weeks leading up to training camp. I'm told that Jackson knows where the Ravens stand. He knows they want to do a long-term deal, but this is going to be a high-tax bracket deal; it's going to need to be in that $43 million per year or more range, and it's uncertain as of now if the Ravens will get that far. I'm told that Jackson knows that the Ravens are loosely prepared to franchise-tag him in 2023 in the absence of a deal and that he's not scared or worried about that. If this has to go even sort of year-to-year or if this has to bleed into the season, he's prepared for all scenarios and he knows that he needs to maximize his worth here. So, he's not really sweating it. The Ravens, as of now, are not sweating it. There's plenty of time to figure it out this summer."

The situation is complicated by the fact that Jackson is coming off his worst statistical season across three years as the Ravens' full-time starter. He also missed the final four games of the 2021 campaign with an ankle injury.

Jackson completed 64.4 percent of his throws for 2,882 yards with just 16 touchdowns and 13 interceptions across 12 contests in 2021. He added 767 rushing yards and two scores on the ground.

Over the previous two years, he averaged 2,942 passing yards and 1,106 rushing yards while tallying 76 total touchdowns (62 passing and 14 rushing) in 30 games.

So it creates a dilemma for both sides. Is Jackson willing to take less coming off a down year or are the Ravens comfortable paying him an MVP-level salary for the foreseeable future despite his dip in production last year? So far there's no answer.

Although it's probably in the best interest of both sides to figure out a solution before the 2022 season gets underway, there seemingly isn't a sense of urgency quite yet.

Jackson is willing to stand his ground until Baltimore matches his preferred number, and the team's front office has the franchise tag in its back pocket for 2023 and possibly even 2024 if somehow there's still no agreement in place by that point.

Meanwhile, the 25-year-old University of Louisville product received some criticism for skipping the voluntary portion of organized team activities amid the contract standoff, which he responded to on social media:

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 it’s probably other QBs not attending Voluntary OTAs either but since it’s Lamar it’s a huge deal. Find something else to talk about🙄 <a href="https://t.co/2Nx2b767bb">https://t.co/2Nx2b767bb</a>

So far there's no suggestion Jackson, who's set to make $23 million for the final year of his rookie contract, is considering a long-term holdout despite the initial OTA absence.

Getting some practice reps in throughout training camp and the preseason will be important as the Ravens' passing game takes on a new look following the trade of wide receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown to the Arizona Cardinals in April.

Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay figure to take over as the top targets among wideouts, though tight end Mark Andrews will likely remain the main option in the passing game.

Most importantly, the Ravens need a healthy, productive year from Jackson if they're going to bounce back from missing the playoffs with an 8-9 record last season.