Having finished his third season with the Ravens, franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson is now eligible to negotiate a new long-term contract with Baltimore.
After having discussions with General Manager Eric DeCosta, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh is confident that a new deal between Jackson and the Ravens will get done eventually.
"I'm confident that Eric and those guys will do a great job of looking at that," Harbaugh said. "Of course, absolutely we want Lamar to sign a long-term deal. I'm totally certain that that's going to happen. When it happens, that's the details. That's what we've got to figure out. … That will happen either this year or next year I'm sure."
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 draft 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.
As Harbaugh pointed out, there will be multiple quarterbacks from the 2018 class, including Cleveland's Baker Mayfield, Buffalo's Josh Allen and New York Jets' Sam Darnold, who will be in the same contract situation. Yet it was Jackson who NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported on Saturday, before the Ravens' divisional playoff game, saying the Ravens are "open to a big-time contract extension" this Spring or Summer.
What changes the situation this offseason compared to last year when Mahomes and Watson signed their extensions is that 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.
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.
"We do have a tough salary cap situation this year across the league because of the pandemic," Harbaugh said. "The salary cap is unpredictable and probably going to drop. I think the guys that negotiate those, for all these contracts for all these players across the league, that is going to be a real question mark how that's going to play out."
Harbaugh has been in touch with Jackson since he suffered his concussion Saturday night, and said the quarterback is on the road to recovery.
"As far as Lamar, he's doing well," Harbaugh said. "I talked to him yesterday. He has a concussion so he's working through that. Says he feels a lot better."