Ravens GM Eric DeCosta on Lamar Jackson: ‘We want Lamar here’

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Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta remains “optimistic” that a new deal will be done with star quarterback Lamar Jackson.

DeCosta said he and Jackson met recently and discussions are ongoing. The former still expects the two sides to agree on the terms of a contract before the March 7 label deadline. DeCosta added that he hasn’t made a decision on what tag the team would use on Jackson if it came to that. The tag would prevent the 2018 NFL MVP from reaching free agency.

“We both understand the urgency of the situation,” DeCosta said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “It’s been a good dialogue, a good discussion.”

There have been reports that Jackson wants a fully guaranteed deal like Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson’s five-year, $230 million deal. But other reports say Jackson isn’t resisting a fully guaranteed deal.

If the Ravens place the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson, he could still trade with other teams, but Baltimore could match any offer it receives or acquire two first-round picks in return. The exclusive franchise tag would give the Ravens exclusive negotiating rights to Jackson, but includes a $45 million cap hit for quarterbacks, compared to $32.4 million under the non-exclusive franchise tag.

Should the Ravens go all-in and pay Lamar Jackson?

Should the Ravens go all-in and pay Lamar Jackson?

The NFL’s franchise tag window is now open and one player to watch out for is Lamar Jackson. Joy Taylor explains why the Ravens should be all in on the former NFL MVP.

DeCosta acknowledged that there are challenges in dealing with players who represent themselves, as Jackson is doing, but also noted how the franchise has worked before. The Ravens inked star middle linebacker Roquan Smith, who also represents himself, to a five-year contract in January after acquiring him midseason.

“First of all, you have a lot of regard for the player,” DeCosta said of player negotiations. “I think when you deal with an agent, sometimes you can speak very freely, position yourself in a certain way. You have different arguments that you can use that maybe you wouldn’t say to a player. So I think that’s part of it. of that … You see the commitment. You see where they’re coming from. So it’s definitely a different dynamic.”

The Ravens, DeCosta said, are aware of the quarterback purgatory many teams find themselves in. This is a place Baltimore does not want to be.

“You can’t win in this league without a strong quarterback. That’s been proven,” DeCosta said. “So we want Lamar here. We think he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He’s definitely one of our best players and we want him back. So yeah, we get it. Living in a world without quarterbacks is a bad world. I think there’s a lot of coaches and general managers who would probably say they’re living in that world right now. We’re aware of that.”

Jackson, 26, missed six games last season, including the Ravens’ loss to the Bengals, after suffering what he said was a Grade 2 PCL sprain in his knee. In 12 games, he completed 62.3% of his passes for 2,242 yards and 17 touchdowns with seven interceptions.

One of the most prolific dual-threat quarterbacks in NFL history, the two-time Pro Bowler also had 112 carries for a career-high 764 rushing yards and three touchdowns in 2022.

Should Jackson hold out for a fully guaranteed deal?

Should Jackson hold out for a fully guaranteed deal?

Emmanuel Acho, LeSean McCoy, Joy Taylor and David Helman discuss how Lamar Jackson should handle his contract dispute with the Ravens.

“The only fields I know are me and Lamar,” DeCosta said of the negotiations. “We talk. We text. And so I’m not too worried about perceptions. I’ve seen a lot of perceptions in the last 27 years and a lot of times those perceptions probably aren’t accurate. Lamar and I continue to do that. Talk. I have a lot of admiration and respect for Lamar. I think he would say the same about me.

“Like I said, it’s a tough negotiation,” he continued. “There are some dynamics that make it difficult. But I remain optimistic. We continue to talk, and I’m excited about it.”

Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports. He previously worked for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, where he was the Titans beat writer for a year and a half. He covered the Seattle Seahawks for SeattlePI.com for three seasons (2018-20) before moving to Tennessee. You can follow Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.

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