Lamar Jackson Hopeful for New Deal Before Training Camp, Holdout Not on His Mind
Lamar Jackson has been tight-lipped about his contract negotiations with the Ravens, but he did divulge a morsel of information over the weekend at his annual Funday with LJ event in South Florida.
When Jackson was asked by USA Today’s Safid Deen if he and the Ravens can agree to a new deal before training camp begins on July 26, he said: "Hopefully. I'm not going to say 'yeah' right now. Hopefully. But it's God's timing."
As to whether he would hold out of training camp until a new deal is reached, Jackson replied: "I don't have that on my mind."
When pressed for more information about contract negotiations by Deen, Jackson said: "That's private conversations, and I'm not going to talk about it."
One thing Jackson made clear is that he wasn't sending a message to the Ravens when he changed his Instagram profile picture and Twitter header over the weekend to an image of a gold grill on someone's teeth with the words "I Need $."
Some in the media interpreted it as Jackson making a reference to his contract. Jackson explained that it was from the movie "How High," which he had just watched, and he posted the photo because he thought it was funny.
"I don't know why people are blowing it up," Jackson said. "I just saw Bleacher Report post it. They just take anything that's posted on social media and just blow it up, and try to think for you. I don't take it too seriously.
"They're making it seem like I'm talking to the Ravens when I'm not. Our contract discussion is going on already. But it ain't about that though. I'm not putting my business life on social media. I won't ever do that. I won't put my personal life on social media. I'll show stuff, but I won't throw subliminal [messages] out. That's not me."
Pundits Call Out Voters Who Left Jackson Out of Top 10 Quarterbacks Rankings
Jackson was a hot topic on social media yesterday and it had nothing to do with his contract.
Plenty of people took issue with Jackson being snubbed from ESPN's top 10 quarterbacks rankings, which were determined by votes of more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players.
"Lamar doesn't fit what the Ravens do; Lamar is what the Ravens do," Ryan Clark said on ESPN's "Get Up." "That's why it's mind-boggling to me that he's not in the top 10. He's not a system quarterback, because he is the system."
Yahoo Sports’ Robert Sobus wrote: "When healthy, Jackson is one of the best players in the NFL, so leaving him out of any top-10 list at his position is baffling to say the least. He impacts the game in so many different ways, has had an incredible amount of success as a professional, and has proven that he is a franchise player at the highest level."
ESPN’s Rob Ninkovich said he believes some voters unfairly penalized Jackson, the unanimous 2019 MVP, because he didn't have his best season statistically in 2021.
"Last year, obviously with the injuries, if you were to take one of those other quarterbacks … Say you took Tom Brady and you took away his whole running back room and a couple of the key pieces on the outside for him, he would have a tough year, he would struggle a little bit," Ninkovich said. "So I think that we're looking at this in a different sense because you're waiting to say, 'Oh, look, he's not so good in this specific situation … let's just say he's not a top 10 quarterback.'"
It's absurd that Jackson's subpar (by his standards) 2021 season is being held against him, yet Deshaun Watson, who didn't even play last year and whose status for this season is unknown, is ranked No. 9. Not to mention that Watson has never won an MVP award, is 0-2 against Jackson by a combined score of 74-23, and has a 28-25 career record (Jackson is 37-12).
Personally, I don't think it's even worth getting worked up about. To Ninkovich's point, it's been obvious for years that Jackson is held to a different standard than other quarterbacks by his critics.
It's also obvious that he's easily one of the 10 best quarterbacks in the league. When you look at what he's accomplished in three-plus seasons as a starter, a strong case can be made for him being in the top five.
Calais Campbell Wants to Be a Champion in Football and Poker
Calais Campbell made it clear this offseason that he was returning for his 15th season because he wants an elusive Super Bowl ring. When Campbell's playing days end, a new championship pursuit will begin.
The six-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman wants to win the World Series of Poker main event.
"It's a tough thing that very few people have done, but I feel like, why not? If it can be done, why not me?" Campbell told ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.
Campbell has played poker since college and has totaled $11,487 in live earnings, according to Hensley.
"He has participated in other WSOP events annually but has never entered the main event because the end of the tournament is too close to the start of training camp," Hensley wrote. "But Campbell plans to put up the $10,000 buy-in for the no-limit hold 'em world championship every year after he's finished with football."
Campbell said there are parallels between poker and football, as both take discipline, patience and a lot of reps to improve. He said to excel in both sports you also need to have an awareness about your opponent.
"It's a thrill when you're out there competing and you're in the hand and you try to get good reads on people," Campbell said. "I feel like with football, I've been very good at seeing things before they happen. It allows me to really spot my keys and give me information and allow me to process it. In poker, it's the same thing."