OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson will stop contract negotiations when the regular season begins.
After Saturday’s practice, Jackson confirmed for the first time that he will break off talks in Week 1 of the regular season, which is four weeks away.
“We’re coming. It’s coming,” Jackson said when asked about a hard deadline. “The season is coming. We are going to be good for the season.”
When asked whether or not it’s reasonable to say whether or not he wants a contract for Week 1, Jackson replied, “Yeah, sure.”
Jackson, 25, gave no other updates on contract talks. Unsurprisingly, Jackson wants to suspend contract talks before the season starts, as he is one of the few high-profile NFL players who doesn’t have an agent. Jackson represents himself, meaning Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta can only negotiate with the former NFL MVP.
He is entering his fifth-year option, which will pay him $23,016 million this season. If no deal is struck on March 7, the Ravens will have to put the franchise label on Jackson to prevent him from becoming an unlimited free agent.
The sides did not engage in contract talks for five months after the season because Ravens officials said Jackson showed no “urgency” to do so. Jackson and the Ravens then began negotiations in June.
The last quarterback to sign big money overtime was Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals, whose average per year ($46.1 million) and guaranteed money ($160 million) both rank second among quarterbacks. Deshaun Watson leads all quarterbacks with a guaranteed $230 million, and Aaron Rodgers is in first place with an average of $50.3 million per season.
Since speaking as Baltimore’s starting quarterback midway through the 2018 season, Jackson ranks fourth in wins (37), 11th in touchdown passes (83) and first in rushing yards by a quarterback (3,534).
“I’m confident it will happen when it’s done,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “You can’t really rush it. I don’t think either side wants to rush anything; both parties want to be happy when it’s all said and done, and probably both parties unhappy when it’s all said and done, to some degree, So it roughly works.”
Harbaugh added: “But he’s doing a great job. He’s practicing well; he’s a great leader; on the sidelines, he’s in the middle of the game. So everything, thumbs up.”
After skipping voluntary spring training sessions, Jackson attended the mandatory mini camp and practiced in training camp every day. The biggest difference in Jackson was in the weight room. Jackson has added over 10 pounds of lean muscle mass and has accumulated to 230 pounds.
“I just wanted to look good, look a little chunky in there (and look a little big too,” Jackson said. I feel like it worked. I’m still fast. I’m still moving like I did before. I just added a little more weight.”