Ravens’ Harbaugh: 200% Chance Lamar Jackson Stays

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh and general manager Eric DeCosta were emphatic that quarterback Lamar Jackson will return to the team next season despite his contract uncertainty.

“200 percent. There is no question,” Harbaugh told reporters Thursday when asked if Jackson would return next season. “Lamar is our quarterback, and he’s been our quarterback. Everything we’ve done in terms of building our offense and building our team and how we think and how we put people around him is based on this incredible young man, and his ability.”

Harbaugh and DeCosta reportedly spent time earlier Thursday with Jackson, whose rookie contract expired after this season.

“It certainly takes two to tango,” DeCosta said. “But I think Lamar and I have a great relationship. I think we communicate quite often. As a matter of fact, we’ve spoken throughout the season multiple times. These negotiations, they all happen differently. I wouldn’t characterize the percentages of getting any deal done except to say we’ll communicate effectively, and we’ll be as fair as we can be.”

DeCosta added he’s not willing to entertain any trade proposals for Jackson and said the focus will remain on signing Jackson to a long-term contract. If a long-term extension can’t be reached, the Ravens can place the franchise tag on Jackson. The tag would pay Jackson $40 million guaranteed next season if used. The Ravens can place the tag on Jackson from Feb. 21 until March 7.

However, The 33rd Team analyst Ari Meriov isn’t sure if Jackson will be willing to play under the tag next season, which could lead to a situation where Jackson forces his way out of Baltimore.

Baltimore also could place the non-exclusive tag on Jackson, which would pay him $30 million to $33 million per year. With the non-exclusive tag, Jackson could sign an offer sheet with another team, and the Ravens could match. If the Ravens didn’t match, Jackson’s new team would have to give up two first-round picks to sign him.

Jackson doesn’t have an agent and is representing himself in negotiations, which could make finding a compromise for a contract slightly more difficult. The Ravens agreed to a new contract extension with linebacker Roquan Smith, who also represents himself, on Jan. 10.

Rumors started to swirl Jackson was going to leave Baltimore this offseason after he didn’t travel with the team for its playoff game against the Bengals last weekend. Jackson didn’t travel because of a PCL injury he suffered that forced him to miss the final five weeks of the season.

One sign both sides are at least on the same page is Jackson will be involved in picking the team’s next offensive coordinator after Greg Roman was let go on Thursday. Jackson seems to be engaged on the issue as he responded to a Tweet about what Baltimore’s potential new offensive coordinator’s scheme could look like.

All sides seem committed to building something in Baltimore, but it remains to be seen if it will work out.

“Eric wants him here. I want him here. [Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti] wants him here. Lamar wants to be here. It’s going to work out,” Harbaugh said.

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