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Baltimore Ravens not worried about Lamar Jackson skipping OTAs, want to avoid ‘rental’ contract

Matt Johnson
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson isn’t attending voluntary organized team activities, becoming the latest NFL star to skip the optional workouts amid contract disputes. While the absence caused plenty of headlines, it doesn’t seem to be a concern in Baltimore.

Jackson’s absence caused plenty of reactions, resulting in him firing back at criticism of him for missing team workouts. With the 2019 NFL MVP not interested in discussing a long-term deal right now, some viewed it as odd that he would take an action typically used by players who are looking for leverage in contract negotiations.

  • Lamar Jackson rushing stats (career): 3,673 rushing yards, 21 rushing touchdowns, 224 first downs

While Baltimore would love its Pro Bowl quarterback to return, it seems the organization is confident the 25-year-old will return when the time is right.

During an appearance on Sunday’s SportsCenter, ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler shared that Jackson promised the Ravens he’ll report to the team this summer. Furthermore, the organization isn’t worried about his current absence suggesting there is a bad relationship with the team.

Related: NFL executives ‘monitoring’ Lamar Jackson contract situation

“The Ravens are not overly concerned because Lamar Jackson has promised to show up at some point. It might be for mandatory minicamp, but he’s going to be there. This is not contentious from what I’m hearing, and so they believe they’re still in a very good place with the player.”

Jeremy Fowler on Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson missing OTAs (H/T Bleacher Report)

There is plenty of time for Jackson to report. Ravens’ mandatory minicamp is from June 14-16, so the face of the franchise can take his time before arriving at the team facility. However, it seems Baltimore would certainly prefer he takes a more aggressive approach in contract talks.

Latest news on Lamar Jackson contract talks

NFL: New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson is taking a unique approach for a top quarterback. While Josh Allen signed his deal quickly and Kyler Murray is upset he doesn’t already have a new contract, Baltimore’s passer is taking a different approach to things.

He reportedly doesn’t want to discuss a deal this year, putting talks on hold until 2023. It’s the same approach he took a season ago when the Ravens wanted to discuss a long-term deal and their quarterback said preparing for the upcoming season was his only focus.

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There isn’t exactly pressure on Baltimore to act now. Jackson is playing on his fifth-year option worth $23 million guaranteed. While he is eligible for NFL free agency in 2023, the Ravens already intend to place the franchise tag on him. It’s a year-by-year approach Baltimore is willing to take, but reportedly prefers wasn’t the case.

“They believe if he wants to do that then they could go year-to-year here, sort of like a rental situation. They don’t want that; they want to sign him long term. But I’ve talked to multiple league execs who say maybe they would do the same thing, especially with some of the injury concerns with his running style. So, they want to get it done, but they’re not going to panic too. They have options.”

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Baltimore Ravens’ approach to Lamar Jackson contract talks

Ultimately, the organization doesn’t have a choice in matters. Jackson’s plan seems clear, he will play out the next three seasons on fully-guaranteed salaries. He is projected to make more than $32 million on the franchise tag in 2023 and that figure could reach $40 million if tagged in 2024.

At that point, a third consecutive franchise tag becomes cost-prohibitive and Jackson will hold all the leverage. Whether it comes from the Ravens or another team, Jackson is going to land one of the largest contracts in NFL history.