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Lamar Jackson not ‘engaging’ Ravens as contract talks near another deadline

The Baltimore Ravens have until 4 PM ET on Tuesday to place the franchise tag on quarterback Lamar Jackson or face the real possibility of losing him in NFL free agency.

While it’s already known that Baltimore will not allow Jackson to test the free-agent waters, his contract situation with the team continues to be an issue.

With the deadline approaching, NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport is reporting that Jackson and his side really has not been willing to engage in long-term contract talks with the Ravens’ brass. That included general manager Eric DeCosta heading to Florida in order to meet with the former league MVP.

“They are making efforts to get Lamar Jackson to a long term (or short term) deal — something more than the franchise tag,” Rapoport reported. “It just doesn’t seem like there’s been engagement from Lamar Jackson’s side.”

Baltimore will use one of two franchise tags on Jackson ahead of the deadline in order to prevent him from hitting free agency on March 15.

The non-exclusive tag would come in at $32.42 million, enabling other teams to actually discuss a contract with Jackson while handing Baltimore two first-round picks if a deal were worked out. The exclusive tag comes in at $45 million for the 2023 season and would prevent Jackson from talking with other teams.

These discussions have been taking place for well over a calendar year. Things are complicated by the fact that Jackson does not have an agent. Baltimore has been forced to talk directly with the quarterback and his mother when it comes to contract negotiations.

Related: Lamar Jackson and the top NFL free agents of 2023

Lamar Jackson trade could still be in the cards

lamar jackson contract talks
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The backdrop here is renewed chatter that Baltimore might simply come to the conclusion that trading Jackson is the best course of action.

We’ve read reports over the past several months that he has not necessarily been willing to engage in long-term contract talks. Rather, the quarterback seems to be content with continuing to play under the franchise tag until his asking price is met.

At issue here is the difference of $100 million in guarantees. Jackson is looking for something similar to the fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract Deshaun Watson signed with the Cleveland Browns last offseason.

The new deals Derek Carr (four-year, $150 million) and Geno Smith (three-year, $105 million) obviously aren’t going to help when it comes to contract talks between Jackson and The Ravens.

Even if the two sides don’t come to terms ahead of Tuesday’s deadline, they’d still have ample amount of time to talk assuming Baltimore places the exclusive tender on Jackson. The deadline for players to sign the franchise tag tender doesn’t come until late summer.

At this point, that makes the most sense. The going rate in any trade for the former NFL MVP would be more than the two first-round picks Baltimore would acquire if it placed the non-exclusive tag on Jackson.

This leads us to believe that it will be the exclusive tag with the Ravens being open to trading Jackson. As of right now, he’s primarily been linked to the Atlanta Falcons. However, other teams would line up at an opportunity to acquire the generational quarterback talent.

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