There is no bigger story in the National Football League this offseason than what’s going to happen with Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Rarely do players of his stature, at this point in their careers, come so close to possibly becoming available on the open market.
Having completed his rookie contract, Jackson is due to be a free agent in March. Obviously, the Ravens will franchise tag him by then, but reports indicate that they could be open to fielding trade offers if contract talks become untenable. His teammates just want them to do whatever needs to be done to make it happen.
“He needs to stay in Baltimore”, veteran defender Calais Campbell said, who also announced that he would be returning for the 2023 season himself. “He cannot go anywhere else. He should play his whole career in Baltimore. The man is a legend”.
A first-round draft pick in 2018, Jackson has a career 45-16 record as a starter in the regular season, but the team has not fared particularly well when he has been hurt. It’s sunk the past two seasons, more or less, including sending them to a losing record in 2021 and missing the playoffs altogether.
But contract talks reached an impasse last season amid reports that Jackson was seeking a fully-guaranteed contract in line with that which the Cleveland Browns gave Deshaun Watson. But Watson had numerous bidders via trade.
If the same situation arises this offseason, Baltimore may have little choice but to begin opening their ears. If they get ‘an offer they can’t refuse’, it may be very difficult to do so. But Campbell isn’t convinced, and I’m sure he speaks for many in the locker room.
“I love playing for him. When we’re on the football field and we know Lamar Jackson’s back there at quarterback, we believe that we can beat anybody”, he said. “You can’t just put anybody back there and expect to be a great football team”.
He added that he understands that it’s a business, though. “If somebody comes to you and says, ‘We’ll give you five first-round picks’ or whatever”, you’d have to listen, he said. “But who do you replace him with? There’s no guarantee that one of these rookie quarterbacks will come in to be Lamar Jackson”.
“Eric DeCosta, I love you. Let’s find a way to make this happen, baby”.
Amusingly, Steelers fans seem to be as passionate as Ravens fans about Baltimore getting him signed long-term. They want the Ravens to be strapped with a franchise quarterback contract for as long as possible. And many opposing fans remain unconvinced that Jackson as a passer has what it takes to win it all.