Lamar Jackson Responds to Criticism Around Injuries

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson isn’t happy about the criticism he’s received about his injury history. On Tuesday, Jackson defended himself on Twitter and dispelled rumors he sat out games last season because of his contract situation.

“I don’t remember me sitting out on my guys Week 1 vs. Jets to Week 12 vs. Broncos,” Jackson tweeted. “How come all of a sudden I sit out because of money in which I could’ve got hurt at any time within that time frame when we know the Super Bowl has been on my mind since April 2018.”

The quarterback suffered a PCL strain that forced him to miss the final five games of the regular season and Baltimore’s wild-card loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Jackson’s statement was likely prompted by comments from NFL decision-makers during the annual owners’ meetings on Tuesday. Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank questioned Jackson’s ability to stay healthy.

“Looking at it objectively, I’d say there’s some concern over how long he can play his style of game,” Blank told a group of reporters Tuesday. “Hopefully, a long time … but he’s missed five or six games each of the last two years. Each game counts a lot in our business.”

The Falcons were among the first teams to declare they wouldn’t pursue Jackson after the Ravens placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on the former MVP, allowing him to negotiate with other teams. Since then, no team has stepped up as a contender for Jackson.

>> DEBATE: How Will Ravens-Jackson Stalemate End? 

“You need to keep in mind this a quarterback who doesn’t have a huge frame,” said Rich Gannon, an analyst for The 33rd Team. “He has gotten bigger and stronger since his rookie season, but he’s also missed five games in each of the last two seasons — in critical parts of the season, late in the season, when the Ravens needed him the most.”

Along with his injury history, some teams are reportedly hesitant about trading two first-round picks and signing Jackson to a fully-guaranteed contract. Of course, the Ravens could turn down the picks and match the contract anyway.

On Monday, Jackson publicly requested a trade from the Ravens. To facilitate any trade, Jackson would have to sign the non-exclusive tag. That would allow a team to acquire him for less than two first-round picks.

Rick Spielman, an analyst for The 33rd Team, believes Jackson’s value exceeds what a team would pay for signing him to an offer sheet.

“The [Ravens] can’t afford to lose him because I don’t believe there are any options,” Spielman said. “If they do trade him, he is worth way more than two No. 1 picks. You have to look at what Denver gave up for Russell Wilson and some of these other quarterback trades.”

The Denver Broncos acquired quarterback Russell Wilson for a trade package that included two first-round picks in addition to two second-round picks and three established, young players.

To the Ravens’ credit, they’ve remained steadfast in their belief Jackson will remain in Baltimore.

“I’m getting ready for Lamar,” coach John Harbaugh told reporters on Monday. “When Lamar gets back on this train, it’s moving full speed.”

If Jackson leaves the Ravens this offseason, the team will likely turn to Tyler Huntley as their starter. Other options, like Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr and Jacoby Brissett, have signed elsewhere.

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