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Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson won’t commit to playing Week 1 without new contract

Vincent Frank

Baltimore Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson is on hand for mandatory minicamp in Owings Mills this week after skipping voluntary workouts earlier in the offseason.

The backdrop here are continued contract issues between the former NFL MVP and his organization. Jackson, 25, is entering the final year of his rookie deal and hasn’t been in a hurry to sign an extension.

This could seemingly change over the next few weeks. The former first-round pick took to the podium for a Q&A session with the media following Thursday’s practice. In the process, he seemed to break some rather interesting news.

When asked if he would still play Week 1 against the New York Jets without a new contract being in place, Jackson responded “it’s part of the conversation.” Per Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimroe Sun, he had the same response when asked about his presence at training camp.

There’s a couple different things to look at here. Previous reports suggested that Jackson was not even looking at signing an extension this summer.

Rather, he’s intent on playing this year-by-year. That is to say, finishing up the final year of his rookie deal in 2022 and potentially playing under the franchise tag the next two seasons. This new information seems to indicate that he’s now willing to engage in comprehensive contract talks ahead of training camp.

Jackson all but confirmed that by telling reporters talks are ongoing between his camp and the Ravens’ organization. That’s a dramatically different story than at this point last year.

  • Lamar Jackson contract: $23.02 million salary for 2022; free agent in 2023

On the other hand, Jackson’s comments also suggest that a holdout could be in the cards if Baltimore doesn’t meet his contract demands. In reality, your takeaway here is based on if you’re an optimist or a pessimist.

Related: Lamar Jackson to reap benefits of NFL QB market, Baltimore Ravens major losers

Lamar Jackson will not base contract on Deshaun Watson, other quarterbacks

lamar jackson contract talks
Andrew Nelles / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

When the Cleveland Browns pulled off a blockbuster trade for the embattled Deshaun Watson back in March, it seemed to complicate things for Jackson and the Ravens.

Cleveland ultimately inked Watson to a five-year, $230 million extension with all $230 million fully guaranteed upon making that blockbuster. It was an eye-opening deal, one that threw many around the NFL for a loop. As for Jackson, he doesn’t care one bit about the details of Watson’s deal.

“Nothing at all. I’m a man of my own. I don’t worry about what those guys did.”

Lamar Jackson on how Deshaun Watson’s contract would impact his negotiations, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN

It’s also interesting that Jackson opened up about his absence from voluntary workouts earlier in the offseason. In said comments, the quarterback noted that his contract had nothing to do with staying away from workouts. Rather, he simply wanted to avoid the off-season “grind.”

Lamar Jackson contract could now be in the cards

Based on Jackson’s comments, things have changed a ton since he last spoke to the media in his season-ending press conference. He’s now open to signing an extension and is essentially putting the ball in Baltimore’s court.

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As for the Ravens, they have been public about their willingness to sign him long-term. There’s many good reasons for this. First off, Jackson has played at a high level throughout his career despite a down 2021 season (by his standards).

That type of talent simply isn’t a dime a dozen. Sure there’s some concern over play style and injuries, but it’s completely insane to think Baltimore will be able to find an upgrade over Jackson.

In short, look for something to get done here in the next month. If that doesn’t happen, we’ll have to look at the possibility of a holdout.

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