At a time when many questions linger regarding the relationship between the Ravens and quarterback Lamar Jackson, some answers may emerge on Thursday.
This afternoon, Ravens coach John Harbaugh and Ravens G.M. Eric DeCosta will meet with reporters for their usual end-of-season press conference. There won’t be anything usual about it, not with reporters poised to ask question after question about Lamar Jackson.
While Harbaugh and DeCosta surely will stickhandle their way through the potential minefield of words and phrases that could take on a life of their own, inevitably there should be something tangible regarding the short- and long-term plan for their franchise quarterback.
They’ll try to negotiate a long-term deal with him between now and the deadline for applying the franchise tag. There’s no reason for them to not admit that.
What they likely won’t admit is what they’ll do when the deadline arrives on March 7. The options are: (1) exclusive franchise tag; (2) non-exclusive franchise tag; (3) transition tag; or (4) nothing.
For now, the non-exclusive tag makes the most sense. It would give Jackson a chance to negotiate with other teams, in an effort to get the five-year, fully-guaranteed contract he wants. If someone signs him to an offer sheet, the Ravens could match it or accept a pair of first-round picks as compensation. The other possibility would be to trade him to a team that would then sign him to a new deal.
This presumes Jackson will do with another team what he hasn’t done with the Ravens — reach an agreement on a multi-year deal. If the Ravens can’t do it, why would another team be able to do it?
Yes, all it takes is one team. And maybe there will be a team that does what the Browns did last year, coughing up a five-year, fully-guaranteed contract.
That team won’t be the Ravens. Whether they say it or not during today’s press conference, we already know it. And it feels as if they’re ready to move, if Lamar refuses to adjust his expectations and take the best offer they’ll make.