DeCosta Calls Lamar Jackson A ‘Good Agent’, Says ‘It Was Important’ That He Sees His Own Market Under Tag

The Baltimore Ravens spent well over a year, perhaps the better part of two years, engaging in negotiations with their franchise quarterback, Lamar Jackson. While his peers were signing long-term extensions, he was continuing to hold out, even willing to play out his fifth-year option—which undoubtedly cost him money he’ll never get back.

Still, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta had praise for Jackson’s negotiating skills, having done so on his own behalf. A lot of fans of other teams will probably laugh at such comments, believing that he actually screwed himself on his deal and that DeCosta is saying that to make the team look better. He’s obviously not going to say Jackson was bad at it.

“I will say this. Lamar is a good agent, from the standpoint of, he asks the right questions, he knows what he wants in a lot of different ways”, he told Mike Florio during an exclusive interview with Pro Football Talk. “He’s aware of different mechanisms and issues with the contract, language terms, types of structures, and things like that. He’s done his homework with all of that stuff and he’s a very, very smart guy, savvy, and he did a great job overall”.

The stretch run of that negotiation took place after the Ravens placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson, which enabled him to contact and be contacted by other teams about the possibility of attempting to work out a deal. DeCosta confirms this was a conscious tactic on the team’s part.

“We thought it was important that Lamar have a chance to see what his market might be if he wanted to investigate that. We thought that was important for him”, he said. And as soon as it was announced, several teams leaked to the media that they would not be pursuing him.

“Was I surprised? Probably a little bit”, he said, though he acknowledged that the franchise tag is a very powerful tool. Many speculated that teams wouldn’t want to do the work of managing a deal only to have the Ravens match, and indeed, DeCosta said that “we felt like we would be able to match most deals”, and that any deals they couldn’t match would be very difficult for any team to do.

While we still don’t have the final numbers, Jackson reportedly signed a five-year, $260 million contract, which is the largest per-year average in NFL history. The fully-guaranteed amount is not yet known, but many believe it should be the second-highest amount behind Deshaun Watson’s $230 million.

When asked why they were finally able to get a deal done just before the draft started, DeCosta simply said that he believes Jackson saw what they were trying to build around him. “In the end, I think Lamar, hopefully, I think so, realized that we were the best place for him, that we love him, that our offer reflected that, and that we were the best place for him to thrive and that our city, our community, the organization, we really wanted him back greatly”.

Well, they have him now for at least the next five years. It won’t be cheap, but it could have been worse if they were willing to give in to his alleged demand for a contract that is fully guaranteed in its entirety. But once they showed him his market, he realized he didn’t have any better options.

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