As urgency to reach a contract extension with Lamar Jackson ramps up, Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta feels good about the direction of talks.
DeCosta said he and Jackson are talking and have met recently.
"It's an ongoing discussion. We both understand the urgency of the situation. It's been a good dialogue, a good discussion," DeCosta said. "I'm optimistic and I continue to be optimistic, and we'll see where it goes."
DeCosta said he's "hopeful" that the two sides will reach a deal before March 7, which is the deadline to apply the franchise tag. He said he has not made a decision on whether the Ravens would use the exclusive or non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson if they do not reach an agreement.
While the Ravens would like a deal done by then, it's not a hard deadline, however. The Ravens could tag Jackson and continue to negotiation towards reaching an extension.
One thing remains clear: the Ravens want to keep Jackson.
"You can't win in this league without a strong quarterback. That's been proven," DeCosta said. "We want Lamar here, we think he's one of the best quarterbacks in the league and he's certainly one of our best players. We want him back.
"Living in a world without a quarterback is a bad world to live in, and I think there are probably a lot of GMs and coaches who would probably say that who are living in that world right now. We're aware of that. I think we've been blessed since 2008 to have Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson, and my goal is to continue that."
DeCosta again acknowledged that direct contract discussions with a player who does have an agent are challenging, but the Ravens reached a deal with Roquan Smith, who also represented himself, so they know it's possible.
"A true good-faith negotiation means that both sides have to understand the other side's position and make concessions," DeCosta said. "Every negotiation that I've ever been a part of, which has been quite a few over the last four years as you guys know, it's been a give and take."
DeCosta declined to shed any light on the specifics of the contract offers or negotiations as there have been conflicting reports about the amount of guaranteed money offered, and asked for, in recent weeks. DeCosta said he and Jackson forged an agreement to not leak specifics two years ago and he thinks both sides have tried to live up to that.
Asked about recent reports about details of the deals and the Ravens "low-balling" Jackson, DeCosta said, "Lamar knows the truth and I know the truth."
"I guess it bothers me if there's false information out there," DeCosta said. "But in the end, it's not going to affect my ability to get a deal done with Lamar. It bothers me when I see things that are certainly not true. But Lamar and I remain resolute. That's why I don't speak about the negotiation. That's why you've never seen any contract proposal that we've ever offered."