Amid ongoing uncertainty regarding star quarterback Lamar Jackson's future with the Baltimore Ravens, his teammates believe the franchise should do everything in its power to ensure it doesn't lose him.
"You can't let a guy like him go," veteran defensive end Calais Campbell told reporters Monday. "There's always some new, exciting kid that has potential to go out there and be great. But this is a business of 'for sures' and 'knowns,' and you know who Lamar Jackson is. I think it's in the best interest of the Ravens organization to give him a long-term contract and make him 'the guy.'"
Baltimore's season came to end on Sunday night with a 24-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC Wild Card Game.
Jackson announced on Thursday that he had suffered a Grade 2 PCL sprain late in the regular season, which forced the Ravens to start third-year backup quarterback Tyler Huntley against the Bengals. Jackson raised some eyebrows when he chose not to travel with the team to Cincinnati as he continues to recover from the knee injury.
There was some criticism of Jackson choosing not to play through his injury, but his teammates defended him.
"The outside world, and all the different narratives that people paint in their minds, sometimes it's humorous," Campbell said. "Lamar Jackson is a guy who loves the game of football, and I truly believe he worked as hard as he could to give himself a chance to play."
The Ravens' top priority as they turn the page to the offseason will be negotiating a new contract for Jackson, who declined extension offers from the team prior to the 2022 campaign. If the two sides don't reach a deal by early March, Baltimore will have to use its franchise tag on the 2019 NFL MVP to stop him from becoming an unrestricted free agent.
While Jackson's future is unclear, his teammates are optimistic that he will remain in Baltimore for years to come.
"In my mind, I know he's going to be here," Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley said. "He's a competitor. He wants to win. This is his team, and this is his offense. The money is not the most important thing with Lamar. He really wants to win, contrary to popular belief."