General Manager Eric DeCosta has not started official contract negotiations with Lamar Jackson and his camp yet, but they have built the foundation for those talks.
DeCosta spoke with reporters Tuesday and said he did talk with Jackson in-person this offseason to discuss his future, but he doesn't know when a deal will be struck.
"We're confident and committed to get a long-term deal done and hopefully we can get that done at some point in the near future," DeCosta said. "It may take a little time, but we're willing to try."
DeCosta said he and Jackson have had a couple of discussions, and they spent in-person time together a few weeks ago.
"We haven't really gotten into the actual contract proposals, negotiations, things like that," DeCosta said. "It was more of a general conversation about a lot of different things – the team, Lamar, how we were going to go about a negotiation like this. There are definitely some different moving parts that make this different than a lot of other negotiations we've done."
The Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott reportedly struck a four-year, $160 million deal, including a record-setting $126 million guaranteed, on Monday. That turned the focus to the next class of quarterbacks from the 2018 draft that are now eligible to sign an extension – such as Jackson, Buffalo's Josh Allen and Cleveland's Baker Mayfield.
But DeCosta said he doesn't think Prescott's contract has an impact on Jackson's deal.
"Every negotiation is different, every player is different, every GM is different," DeCosta said. "We have a strategy, we have a relationship. That doesn't really affect me. Lamar has played three years. He's a good player, we feel really good about him, I think he feels really good about us, and it's up to us to get a deal done."
The Ravens know whatever number they come to with Jackson and how it's structured with average salary, guarantees, money in the first three years, cash flow, etc., it's going to be expensive.
"If you got to the Bentley dealership or the Range Rover dealership, you know what the cars are going to cost. You're not going to get much of a discount," DeCosta said.
"They all cost about the same and you go in with the idea of you're either going to buy the car or you're not going to buy the car. … But in the end, they're all very big contracts for outstanding players, they're quarterback deals, they're marquee players. You know you're going to pay a lot, but you're going to get a lot in return."
Part of the equation when it comes to such a massive commitment is relationships. The Ravens and Jackson need to be on the same page. That's what DeCosta and Head Coach John Harbaugh have built, and continue to build, with Jackson. Harbaugh said he and Jackson have had a few conversations since the season ended.
"You try to include your quarterback, in the team-building process, for sure," Harbaugh said. "I think that's very important for him to be on-board and understand what we're trying to do with the offense, what we're trying to do with the personnel, how we're building things schematically. We want his input all the time. That's what we talk about. I'm very confident that the business part of it will be worked out in the best possible way for everybody."
The Ravens committed to Jackson when other teams would not when they drafted him with the 32nd-overall pick in the first round of the 2018 draft. The Ravens committed to Jackson when they re-built their entire offensive scheme around him. Now they'll commit to him financially when both sides feel the deal is right.
DeCosta said their conversation a few weeks ago was great, and that they "talked about a lot of different things – the team, his family, his goals and dreams for the future, what he loves about the organization. We laughed a lot."
Meeting with players and building relationships was one of the parts of the job DeCosta admitted he was most anxious about when he was taking over as general manager for Ozzie Newsome two years ago. Now it's one of DeCosta's favorite aspects.
"It's been really healthy, really good," DeCosta said of his talks with Jackson. "We started to talk about what a contract might look like, but we haven't necessarily gotten into all the weeks and all the nuances of all those types of things, but that will be coming at some point soon."