Expressing his desire to keep Lamar Jackson in Baltimore for many years, General Manager Eric DeCosta said a contract extension for Jackson this offseason is a possibility.
Having finished his third NFL season, Jackson is now eligible to negotiate a long-term contract with the Ravens. Jackson is already under contract for next season, and the Ravens have a May 3 deadline to exercise a fifth-year option on Jackson, who was a first-round pick in 2018.
Two of the league's top young quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans, agreed to a long-term deal after finishing their third seasons. DeCosta said he would be speaking to Jackson in the near future.
"There is certainly a chance of that. I will be talking to Lamar probably in the next 10 days or so," DeCosta said.
"He's down in Florida. We've got a great relationship. He's got a great relationship with this organization. He's a very easy person to talk to and certainly deserves a contract. He has played phenomenal football over the last couple of years. Our intention, and my intention, is to keep him in Baltimore for many, many years."
Unlike last offseason when Mahomes and Watson signed extensions, a decrease in the league's 2021 salary cap is expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which will make agreeing to long-term contracts more challenging.
"With the salary cap there are some unique challenges this year," DeCosta said. "The cap could be 175 (million dollars), it could be 185, we don't really know yet."
It remains to be seen if the Ravens and Jackson will agree to a new deal before May 3, or if the Ravens will exercise their contract option and continue to negotiate. The Ravens have a number of players set to become unrestricted free agents and the timing of a new deal for Jackson will impact how much financial flexibility they have. The way the contract is structured, and how much room it would leave to make additions this offseason, would also be a factor.
However, what Jackson has already accomplished in his young career, leading the Ravens to three straight postseasons and winning an MVP award in his second season, has already made him one of the league's elite players. As he continues to work this offseason, Jackson and the Ravens will explore their options on signing him to an extension.
"A couple of years ago, when I was doing my first press conference, we said we would try to do more deals, we would try to sign our players," DeCosta said. "We've done that, and I'm proud of that. A lot of the credit for that really does go to (Senior Vice President of Football Operations) Pat Moriarty and (Director of Football Administration) Nick Matteo. It's something that evolves over time. These types of things just don't happen arbitrarily.
"We want to keep our good young players. We want our fans to be able to reap the enjoyment of these players over time, if we can. We will continue to engage in talks with all of our good young players."