Celebrate Baltimore, the wait is over, and the MVP is returning. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens have agreed in principle to a five-year extension.
Negotiations have been ongoing for about two years, and the breakthrough finally came on the first day of the 2023 NFL Draft. It's the first-round "pick" the Ravens and their fans have been dreaming of, and reportedly makes Jackson the highest-paid player in NFL history.
"For the last few months, there's been a lot of he said, she said. A lot of nail biting, a lot of head scratching going on," Jackson said in a video officially announcing the news.
"But for the next five years, it's a lot of Flock going on. Let's go, baby. Let's go. Let's go, man. Can't wait to get there, can't wait to be there. Can't wait to light up M&T for the next five years, man. Let's get it."
According to reports, Jackson is now the highest-paid player in NFL history.
His deal is reportedly worth $260 million, for an average of $52 million per year. It tops the extension recently signed by Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts for five years, $255 million ($51 million/year). Jackson also received $185 in total guarantees, per reports, while Hurts got $179.
"It was a long, long process, but family is never easy," DeCosta said. "We're thrilled that we were able to get this done. The question now is: What do we do for an encore?"
It wasn't long ago that negotiations appeared stalled, but the Ravens remained resolute in their desire to come to an agreement with their star 26-year-old quarterback.
Jackson said he requested a trade on March 2. On March 7, the Ravens placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on him, allowing him to negotiate with other teams. On March 27, exactly one month ago, Jackson made his trade request public.
There were no reported offers made or trades proposed, and the Ravens continued to work to bring their former MVP back.
The Ravens signed Odell Beckham Jr. two weeks ago, which seemed to please Jackson. The two connected immediately afterwards. The Eagles reached the extension with Hurts on April 17, which helped to set the parameters of the star quarterback market.
Baltimore has been aggressive in upgrading the weapons around Jackson this offseason and will likely continue to do so in the draft. That, paired with the arrival of new Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken, has the Ravens offense going in a much different direction with Jackson at the helm.
There's never been a doubt about Jackson's talent. He's one of the most dynamic and winningest quarterbacks in the league, and he's helped make the Ravens one of the best teams in the league the past five seasons.
Jackson's record of 45-16 (.738) is the fourth-best of any quarterback who debuted in the Super Bowl era, trailing only Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady and Roger Staubach. He was the NFL's unanimous MVP after a magical 2019 season. The Ravens have struggled when Jackson has been injured the past two seasons, going 3-9 in his absence.
Now with Jackson in Baltimore for the foreseeable future, the Ravens have their centerpiece in place and will try to get over the final hurdle. Jackson, who promised Baltimore a Super Bowl when he was drafted five years ago, has another five more years to help deliver it.
Lamar Jackson has agreed to a five-year contract extension. Let's look back on his best photos as a Raven (with many more to come).