Owings Mills, Md. – In his first media session in five months, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson offered little clarity on his contract status or how he would deal with a lack of a new deal ahead of training camp or the start of the season.
Jackson shrugged off questions about his contract status Thursday, saying the phrase “we’re having a conversation about it” eight times during a 10-minute press conference.
He expressed confidence when asked if he thought he would play in Baltimore for the rest of his career.
“I expect it,” Jackson said. “So, yes, I do.”
Jackson is set to earn $23,016 million in a fifth-year option in 2022. If the two sides cannot reach an extension by the following season, the Ravens are expected to use the franchise tag to prevent Jackson from becoming a free agent.
For the first time in his five-year career, Jackson skipped three weeks of organized volunteer team activities but said his absence was not contract related. He reported to the mandatory minicamp and participated in all three practices, which was the first time he had been at the Ravens facility since the season ended five months ago.
Offer conflicting messages when pressed about how to proceed if he does not receive a new deal.
Asked if he would play in the first week without a new contract, Jackson said: “We’re in a conversation now.”
A few minutes later, Jackson was asked again if he would show up for training camp and play the season without an extension. He replied, “We’re having a conversation about it. I don’t know.”
But during the same interview session, Jackson didn’t seem like a quarterback considering stopping. He said he would meet with his wide receivers and narrow ends for throwing sessions at Florida Atlantic before training camp.
“We’ll work out, watch some movies, and just build our chemistry more,” Jackson said. “Football season is here, really. So we’ll try now.”
Jackson also said he disagrees with the narrative that he should walk off the field unless he gets a fresh deal due to his double-threat style, which some believe makes him more vulnerable to injury.
“I play football,” Jackson said. “That’s what I’m here for.”
Jackson was also dismissive about the impact of Deshaun Watson’s contract on his situation. After being traded with the Cleveland Browns in March, Watson signed a five-year, fully guaranteed contract worth $230 million, $80 million more security than anyone else in the NFL has secured.
“I’m my own man,” said Jackson. “I don’t worry about what these guys get.”
For most of the past year, Ravens officials said, Jackson showed no urgency in starting negotiations. Jackson said he had a “conversation” with the team about his contract and they are “keeping it confidential.”
Jackson appeared to be in good physical shape, adding 15 pounds of muscle mass to increase his weight to 220 pounds. He threw the ball more quickly and showed instant chemistry with a wide receiving range without Marquis Brown, who was traded to the Arizona Cardinals.
“In terms of throwing, catching, targeting and playing craft things, I was happy to see that,” coach John Harbaugh said. I was wondering about her, what she would look like. To see her look good and see what he was like and how well he threw the ball, for a coach, that’s exciting.”
The crows don’t think the state of the connection will become a distraction for Jackson.
“He’s a master of that,” said Ravens coach James Urban. “He’s very good at focusing on the task at hand.”