John Harbaugh on Lamar Jackson contract: “When he’s ready, we’ll be ready”

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The Ravens have been ready, for up to a year or longer, to give quarterback Lamar Jackson a major second contract. Jackson, for whatever reason, has not wanted to engage the team in contract talks.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh recently addressed the delicate situation during an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show.

“He’s a unique guy,” Harbaugh said. “People have been scratching their heads and trying to figure out Lamar probably for a long time, you know, ever since he was a kid. And he’s got his way of going about doing things. But that’s what you love about him, it’s what I love about him. Get him on here and ask him. Maybe he’ll tell you.”

That comment underscores that fact that the Ravens don’t know why he’s doing what he’s doing. That it objectively makes no sense. The Ravens are ready to give Jackson his reward. Structured the right way, it would help the team properly plan its short- and long-term approach to constructing a team around him. Instead, the Ravens will pay him $23 million this year and, absent a new contract in 2023, the franchise tag for one or two years before he officially would become a free agent in 2025 — unless the Ravens would be willing to tag him a third time, at a 44-percent raise over his second tag amount.

It gets expensive. It gets unwieldy from a cap standpoint. Lost in the waiting game is the possibility that the Ravens will become exasperated, and attempt to make other plans.

Through it all, Jackson continues to play the position in a physical way, resulting in far more risk for him than other quarterbacks of the kind of acute or chronic injuries that could short-circuit his high-level skills.

That’s what makes it all so strange. The Ravens are ready to roll. It’s in Jackson’s best interests to engage them now, if he truly wants to stay. Although he has pushed back on the perception that he’s looking to leave, his actions are consistent with a Kirk Cousins-style, two-tags-and-walk-away strategy.

“When he’s ready to do it, it’s going to become a priority for him, then we’re gonna know it, you know?” Harbaugh told Eisen. “It doesn’t have to be a priority for us right now. It’s got to be a priority for both sides. We can do something, or we can wait. Because we know it’s gonna get done when it’s supposed to get done. Hey, when it’s God’s will and Lamar’s will at the same time, it’s gonna all fit together. I do believe Lamar when he tells me that, man, he just wants to be the best quarterback he can be, and that’s what he’s thinking about right now. He doesn’t think he has to think about his contract. He feels like he’s got time to do it. Yeah, you could argue that one way or the other. But everybody gets to make that decision for themselves. That’s a great thing. That’s his choice, not somebody else’s.”

Harbaugh then turned the tables on those talking publicly about Jackson’s contract situation.

“I’ll tell you what, all the pundits out there . . . if you want to talk about your particular contract situation and how you’re doing with your salary and when you’re gonna go ask your boss for a raise and all that, maybe we can all talk about that back and forth and have that conversation,” Harbaugh joked (unless he wasn’t joking). “But in the end, the person gets to decide for themselves, you know? So that’s what Lamar’s doing. I think it’s kind of funny and cool and fascinating how everybody wants to talk about it and speculate on it, but it’s really pretty simple, I think. He’s not ready, you know? And when he’s ready, we’ll be ready. And when that happens, we’ll have something.”

He’s clearly not ready. As previously mentioned, Jackson already has informed the team that he doesn’t want to do a new deal until after the current season. Harbaugh seemed to allude to the specific discussion when that message was sent.

“We had a serious conversation at the end of the season with Lamar and Eric and myself,” Harbaugh said. “And he made it pretty clear where he was at with it and what he wanted to do this offseason, and that was really the last formal one we had.”

It may be the last formal one they have for awhile. There’s nothing to discuss, formally or informally, until Jackson is ready. And while Harbaugh is doing his best to glass-half-full the situation, he has to be dismayed by this. It makes no sense. He knows it. But he can’t say it. Because the team has no choice but to tiptoe around Jackson as he takes an unprecedented approach to his second contract.

The team is ready to give it to him. He’s just not ready to take it. And no one knows why, including Harbaugh and the Ravens.

51 responses to “John Harbaugh on Lamar Jackson contract: “When he’s ready, we’ll be ready”

  1. Unique is a generous term. It is foolish to be your own lawyer or your own agent. LJ is not very smart here and this will only hurt him.

  2. Tag and trade in 23……some team will give the Ravens far too much for him. And they’ll gladly take it.

  3. If they were smart they would let him walk. He’s a terrible passer. Just look at his pathetic playoff performances.

  4. By “when he’s ready” is Harbaugh really saying “when he learns to read an NFL level defense”?

  5. He’s actually playing it pretty smart. The longer he waits to engage in contact talks, other QBs will keep raising the market and the higher the deal he’ll sign is getting. Why sign last season or now when he can sign in another year for more money

  6. He’s really rolling the dice here. First he’s hook song up the Ravens cap strategy and he’s trying to hold out for more money by waiting to see what some other qb’s will be getting. This is a dangerous game due to the high risk of injury and exposure to his underwhelming ability as a passer. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ravens moved on to a house get and cheaper option when he finally decides he wants to engage after he gets franchised twice in ‘25.

  7. The only way this doesn’t work in the Ravens favor is if Lamar is a dominant player in 2025. Yes, his cap hit is bigger with tags. But the team doesn’t have to make any more than a one year commitment each contract, avoiding the catastrophe that would be 300M for a guy that doesn’t hold up. Given his inconsistency and style of play, I bet the Ravens are secretly thrilled with his ‘strategy’.

  8. Follow the Kirk Cousins route, get franchised 1-2 times then hit the open market. That will net him a lot more than signing an extension now.

  9. Lets face it , he’s just not as smart as he thinks he is . You strike when the iron is hot and based on last year the iron just might be cooling . His QBR was 83 for his MVP year in 2019 , 67 for 2020 and 50 for 2021 . Point being he now has put himself into a make or break season for some reason only he knows . Last year would have obviously been the perfect time for him to get his deal done . The Ravens would likely still match or whatever they were willing to pay in 2021 now but yet he still refuses to discuss a contract . Have a feeling he’s blinded by the contracts of Mahomes and Rodgers because he sees the big numbers but doesn’t understand the actual real money value of their deals . Another injury or a continued decline in his QBR rating thinking the Ravens won’t be so willing to put big money on the table . Putting ego before money is just another in a long list of reasons to have an agent who would be in a position to get Jackson to understand what a huge mistake he’s making . Jackson is proof of the old adage , a man that represents himself has a fool for a client .

  10. Why do people always feel like they know what’s best for others? Lamar is unique, which is why there is no one else in the NFL who does what he does. He will make his decision in due time.

  11. Regardless of Jackson’s plans or wants or whatever, the one reason he should get a deal done before the season is that if he gets seriously injured he’ll potentially lose that future money. Good for him for betting on himself, but he’s one play away from a knee or leg or hip or Achilles injury that will either limit or destroy his market value.

  12. He will get fleeced like Sherm did w the 9ners. Then the league will have to step in

  13. Lamar is a moron. His most athletic years are ticking away and unless he turns into the second coming of Randall Cunningham .. the Ravens will have squeezed the orange for all its juice before his next contract.

  14. It appears it has already been established that Lamar wants to wait after this upcoming season. So why are we still talking about this?

  15. It’s funny to hear so many people questioning a millionaire’s contract strategies. I guess because he is “just an athlete” that means he lacks intelligence? The Kirk Cousin way is the best way, if you are trying to maximize your earnings. Because he doesn’t have an “official” agent, doesn’t mean he won’t have a lawyer read over the contract. I want to know who in here negotiates to not make as much money as possible, when seeking out employment. This is a game. His only obligation is to create as much generational wealth as he can, for himself and his family.

  16. The only reason I would guess LJ isn’t signing is because he wants to seek out other options next year

  17. LOL, all of these ignorant responses calling for Lamar to hire an agent…Maybe Lamar is smarter than you think….
    Imagine the cap in a couple years, the tag number, and what the Browns did for a guy with a truck full of baggage.

  18. Love these “when it’s God’s will” types. Yes God is worried about your QB signing a contract.

  19. I am baffled by this.

    What endgame is he playing that offsets the risk of losing millions of guaranteed dollars due to injury or an off year?

    Does he want out of Baltimore??

  20. Maybe the Ravens draft a QB to protect themselves? Jackson’s style of play increases his injury risk.

  21. he wants to gouge the team and bet on himself but she didn’t have that good a season.

    He will still get paid a lot provided he doesn’t get seriously injured, but I don’t think he cares about winning the super bowl that much he could lock in a huge amount of money yet wants to get a little bit more that’s willing to take a risk to do it.

  22. His value drops every year. Smart if Harbaugh not to push it. Big savings for the Ravens.

  23. Please give him time to admire himself as he looks into the mirror. He isn’t smart enough to see the stupid reflection.

  24. Ravens fan and I love Lamar, but he is getting played here and I have no problem with it.

    It is a business decision and his value is already on the decline…

    The Ravens are in business to win!

  25. Let’s face it, the era of the long-term quarterbacks like Elway, Kosar, Brees, Manning, Brady and others is over. Look at the QB’s drafted in the last 5 years and most of them are throw-away commodities. This situation with Jackson falls right in line with this new era. Use him for a few years and move on. The common thread here is all the money players are making, which has almost destroyed the league. It’s not about the game anymore…and the fans be damned.

  26. Lamar is actually fulfilling his contractual obligation to the letter. Why is this an issue?

  27. Rumor was that Lamar put a proposal on the table immediately after the season ended. He proposed: 5yr $40M per Total $200M with $130M Gtd.
    Ravens balked big time! And they haven’t had any contract talks since. So with a smile on his face and a song in his heart Lamar Jackson skips down Kirk Cousins Lane on his way to another team most likely in 2024 but possibly 2025!

  28. Jackson is exhibiting strange behavior, it’s looking more and more like the Ravens have a major headache on their hands. Reminds me of what the Steelers went through with Antonio Brown.

  29. nite2al says:
    April 12, 2022 at 2:28 pm
    Lamar is actually fulfilling his contractual obligation to the letter. Why is this an issue?
    ——————————————————————————————–
    Because he had the opportunity to be paid well over a $100M and instead has refused to even discuss it for reasons seemingly only known to him . Now he’s one injury or bad year from being another Cam Newton except Newton was smart enough to sign his big money deal before injuries and declining play took its toll on his career . Jackson not so much .

  30. If he is really betting on himself the way Joe Flacco did then I think that if he does a little research he’s going to find out that the Ravens team in 2012 was a lot better than this one. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin, Ray Rice, etc.

  31. nite2al says:
    April 12, 2022 at 2:28 pm
    Lamar is actually fulfilling his contractual obligation to the letter. Why is this an issue?
    ——————————————————————————————–
    Because he had the opportunity to be paid well over a $100M and instead has refused to even discuss it for reasons seemingly only known to him . Now he’s one injury or bad year from being another Cam Newton except Newton was smart enough to sign his big money deal before injuries and declining play took its toll on his career . Jackson not so much .
    _______________________________

    Are you guys really worried about Lamar? Let Lamar do his thing and he will wind the smartest guy in the room after it’s all said and done and you all will look like fools.

  32. nite2al says:
    April 12, 2022 at 3:56 pm
    nite2al says:
    April 12, 2022 at 2:28 pm
    Lamar is actually fulfilling his contractual obligation to the letter. Why is this an issue?
    ——————————————————————————————–
    Because he had the opportunity to be paid well over a $100M and instead has refused to even discuss it for reasons seemingly only known to him . Now he’s one injury or bad year from being another Cam Newton except Newton was smart enough to sign his big money deal before injuries and declining play took its toll on his career . Jackson not so much .
    _______________________________

    Are you guys really worried about Lamar? Let Lamar do his thing and he will wind the smartest guy in the room after it’s all said and done and you all will look like fools
    ——————————————————————————————
    The only way Jackson is the smartest guy in the room is if he’s the only one in it , lol . Here’s a list of guaranteed money for recently signed QBs . Jackson likely would be on this list but is willing to risk it if injured or has a bad year . Definitely not the smartest guy in room decision making .

    Rank Player Total guarantees
    1 Deshaun Watson $230 million
    2 Aaron Rodgers $150.6 million
    3 Josh Allen $150 million
    4 Patrick Mahomes $141.5 million

  33. He’s in the 40’s millions a year right now with a great year he’ll be in the mid 50’s imagine a 5 year 275 million contract with 200 million guaranteed .

  34. Love hasn’t shown much yet and the trade up to draft him will always be questioned. Remember though that prior to drafting him Rodgers appeared to be a descending player (stats trending down) and the pick appears to have lit a fire under him to back to back MVP’s. That in itself has value.

    The team hasn’t seen enough of Love yet to say he’s a bust but then again nothing to suggest he’s even worthy of being a starter in the league someday.

    I do trust in Gute’s draft record so far though and so have to believe he has all the physical tools to be a good starter and it’s just a question of whether his between the ears stuff gets to that level too.

    Nothing wrong with having a good backup in the league when you have an aged QB at the helm. If they can get a late 2nd or 3rd for him though I would have to believe it would be tempting given the window is closing for this team.

  35. He is going to wait until he thinks he can get D. Watson money. The Ravens will say no and so will other teams
    He has been on a steady decline with both passing and injury.

  36. “ Through it all, Jackson continues to play the position in a physical way, resulting in far more risk for him than other quarterbacks of the kind of acute or chronic injuries that could short-circuit his high-level skills.”

    The above from the article is pure conjecture. There is no proof that a mobile QB is more at risk. This idea is basically an article of faith among the religion of sports media.

  37. No one’s saying this approach *can’t* work out for Jackson. People are just rightly thinking there’s a high amount of risk here.

    One bad injury or another season like this past one and suddenly he’s looking at losing out on $100 million+.

    He’s arguably done more and shown more upside than Watson, Prescott, and Cousins, and he probably sees himself as able to play the contract game as well as they did, and he may be right. But he’s also not far from Mayfield territory, especially if he repeats this season of unreliable availability. If you have upside but you’re not there half the time, then you’re not worth it.

  38. florisimo4ever says:
    April 12, 2022 at 5:56 pm

    “ Through it all, Jackson continues to play the position in a physical way, resulting in far more risk for him than other quarterbacks of the kind of acute or chronic injuries that could short-circuit his high-level skills.”

    The above from the article is pure conjecture. There is no proof that a mobile QB is more at risk. This idea is basically an article of faith among the religion of sports media.

    ====

    RGIII, Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Marcus Mariota, and Tyrod Taylor say hi. Also, Jackson’s last two seasons have ended with injuries (concussion & ankle). As injuries don’t tend to get less likely the more they accumulate, I’d say it’s a valid concern.

  39. Cousins is not a great comparison, he didn’t have an offense that is highly depended on QB running plays and the much higher level of risk of injury on every play. Every time Lamar runs the ball and cuts that is a higher risk of blowing out a knee, breaking a leg, etc that could greatly diminish his great ability to run and immediately reduce his value as a QB since he is not a pocket passer. Lamar should being doing the opposite of Cousins (and if he had agent this would be the advice) and sign an extension for the highest amount of fully guaranteed money as possible.

  40. The dude is crackers. Unless God has told him that his not going to get injured.

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