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Late for Work 2/7: Is Lamar Jackson Delaying His Contract Extension?

QB Lamar Jackson

Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta shed light on the status of Lamar Jackson’s contract extension during Friday's press conference, but that certainly hasn't ended the questions.

"I think, at this point, I would say that we're working at Lamar's pace," DeCosta said. "He's comfortable where we are right now."

That was DeCosta's most insightful answer, and it has left pundits trying to read the tea leaves.

"Team officials have confidently framed it as a matter of when, and not if, a new deal gets done with Jackson," ESPN’s Jamison Hensley wrote. "But for a second straight offseason, there's no indication that a long-term commitment to Jackson is imminent. So, what's the hold up?"

"There was no mention of prioritizing Jackson's deal, of it being a front-burner issue or of the organization working tirelessly to get it done," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec added. "The Ravens appear to be taking the stance that they are ready and willing, but that it's largely up to Jackson to accelerate the talks."

The understanding seems to be that it's Jackson – not the Ravens – who is delaying a contract extension. But why?

DeCosta said it has been an "unusual" negotiation because he's been dealing with Jackson directly. According to Hensley, Jackson is one of just 17 NFL players not represented by a traditional sports agent. Jackson has on numerous occasions declined to shed light on who is advising him.

It's unknown whether the Ravens have made Jackson a formal contract extension offer, but DeCosta said he's spoken to Jackson five or six different times over the past year about his contract and is available to talk whenever.

The whole situation has left NFL Network's Rich Eisen confounded.

"Where is the contract extension for Lamar Jackson? What is going on there?" he said on the "Rich Eisen Show." "Eric DeCosta spoke today … and he made it sound like they're ready to do it and Lamar hasn't really gotten around to it yet."

If a deal isn't struck this offseason, Jackson would play under his fifth-year option, which would be at $23 million. As DeCosta said, Jackson is "comfortable where we are right now," and the Ravens GM made it clear that the Ravens can handle that figure on their 2022 salary cap. There are 11 quarterbacks who are slated to have high salary cap hits next season, so Jackson would be a comparative bargain.

However, playing out the option could leave both sides in a trickier situation come next offseason, whereas a long-term contract would provide immediate benefits to both parties.

For the Ravens, an extension would allow them to add more pieces around Jackson this offseason.

"Right now, Jackson accounts for 11% of the Ravens' cap in 2022," Hensley wrote. "A contract extension could cut Jackson's cap figure this season in half because a new deal would prorate the signing bonus over the length of the deal and include a low first-year base salary. In other words, a long-term deal with Jackson would result in a major short-term cap benefit for Baltimore."

For Jackson, an extension would give him more guaranteed money, long-term stability, and reportedly make him one of the game's three highest-paid players along with Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. Hensley wrote that "those in league circles expect Jackson's payout to exceed $40 million per season."

That would seemingly be of interest for a quarterback who, as Hensley pointed out, has taken far more hits than any quarterback since 2018 and missed the final four games of last season with an injured ankle.

"That's why it's odd that Jackson hasn't been more proactive," Hensley wrote. "It would make sense for Jackson to push for an extension because it provides long-term security for someone who puts his body on the line more than other quarterbacks with his playing style."

Could Jackson be looking to pull a move similar to what Joe Flacco did in 2012? DeCosta said Jackson feels he and the Ravens have "unfinished business" and has his sights on winning the division and Super Bowl.

Flacco turned down a contract extension offer from the Ravens before going on his torrid postseason run, culminating in the Super Bowl XLVII victory and his MVP. Then Flacco "banged on the desk" and got what was then the richest deal in league history.

DeCosta said the midseason struggles of Jackson and the offense did not change the Ravens' viewpoint that Jackson is their guy moving forward. Once again, Eisen is confused.

"What if somebody is so [darn] good in the first iteration of his contract and doesn't care about being signed long-term? 'I'll just keep myself healthy.' Doesn't matter that he just finished the season with an ankle injury and couldn't finish the season. He's not worried about it because he's Lamar Jackson's and he just operates to his own drum. Part of his drum may be playing out his contract. Who doesn't say I'll take the nine figures from Steve Bisciotti right now? … I've never seen anything like that," Eisen said.

"It's not like they're doing him dirty or wrong. They're building around him and changed their entire world for him. He's their guy; there's no question he's their guy. They've made it obvious he's their guy. And he's like, 'Yeah, I'll get around to it.' I haven't heard anything like that ever."

More Adoration for Dick Cass, the 'Fabric of the Ravens' Organization Culture'

It was a busy Friday, as the Ravens announced later that evening that President Dick Cass will retire in a couple months and Sashi Brown will be his successor.

The news spurred testimonials about Cass' importance to the Ravens over his 18 years with the team, including by me and Zrebiec.

"He's been a key part of the fabric of the Ravens' organizational culture, which is widely praised around the league," Zrebiec wrote. "He would almost certainly dismiss his role in it, just like he would downplay the bonds he's built in the league office and in the community and the key decisions he's made that have set up the Ravens well from a business standpoint.

"But anybody who has even a passing familiarity with the Ravens' leadership structure and how the team does business doesn't buy any of that. Cass has been front and center for the Ravens over the past two decades, even while insisting he stays in the background. He'll certainly be missed by the organization, as a mentor, a decision-maker and an organizational advocate."

"Behind any successful organization lies a calming influence," Russell Street Report’s Tony Lombardi wrote. "A person who provides a level of sensibility when emotions run high; someone who offers a hand during seemingly desperate times; a visionary who can see beyond the present and paint a big picture; someone who places the greater good of the workplace ahead of their own. For the Baltimore Ravens, that calming influence is Dick Cass."

More to Know About New President Sashi Brown

Now Ravens employees and fans will get to know a new leader in Brown, who also comes with a highly accomplished resume and Cass' stamp of approval.

Here are some more things to know about Brown, as pointed out by several media members.

Cass helped Brown get his first job in the NFL.

The Baltimore Sun’s C.J. Doon: "After graduating from Hampton and then Harvard Law School, Brown started his career as an attorney in 2002 at Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr in Washington, a firm run by Cass. While there, Brown represented clients in a variety of matters, including sports-related transactions, venture capital and private-equity deals, and mergers and acquisitions. According to a 2016 story, Cass recommended Brown for a job with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2005."

"He's always had good judgement," Cass told when Brown was promoted to vice president of football operations in Cleveland. "He's easy to get along with and he's a consensus builder. Good temperament. Doesn't fly off the handle. He's well-suited for the Browns' job, I think — all of those qualities will serve him well."

Brown will be one of two Black NFL team presidents.

The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer: "He'll officially take over for Cass on April 1, when he'll join the Washington Commanders' Jason Wright as the NFL's only Black team presidents."

Brown will be in a different position than he was in Cleveland.

Brown previously worked for the Cleveland Browns from 2013-2017, including the final two years as executive vice president of football operations. In that role, he also oversaw Cleveland's scouting functions, roster management and salary cap.

In Baltimore, Brown will oversee all business areas of the operation, including finances, budgeting, non-football personnel, corporate sales, operations, communications and business ventures.

Cleveland went 1-27 after Brown was promoted to executive vice president of football operations.

"While the team struggled on the field … Brown played a big role in helping reshape the team's personnel. The Browns stockpiled picks and created more salary cap space than any team in the league," Doon wrote.

"In Baltimore, Brown will have what he didn't in Cleveland but really needed: an accomplished GM in Eric DeCosta,"’s Mary Kay Cabot wrote. "Brown's tenure was characterized by a disconnect with coach Hue Jackson, who wasn't his first choice as head coach. Brown reportedly wanted to hire Sean McDermott, and Brown and Jackson – the top choice of owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam –never saw eye-to-eye."

Mark Andrews Gets Vote for NFL's Most Underrated Player

Could Mark Andrews still not be getting the respect he deserves, even after a historic season?

Despite catching two touchdown passes and having the most receiving yards of any player in the 2022 Pro Bowl, Andrews did not get the game's MVP award. Instead, it went to Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, who threw Andrews those touchdowns (but also tossed a pick).

"Ultimately, Pro Bowl MVP does not hold much significance at all, especially in the big picture beyond this game. However, it would have been nice for Andrews to receive the trophy, especially considering he was more than deserving of it after a dominant performance," Baltimore Beatdown’s Frank Platko wrote.

"Regardless of the snub, it was great to see Andrews put the cherry on top of an outstanding 2021 season and validate both his Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro selection. He's very likely to have numerous other chances to capture the Pro Bowl MVP in the coming years."

Being "snubbed" is nothing new for Andrews. The Athletic asked several questions to 20 unnamed Pro Bowl players in Las Vegas, and one question was to name the most underrated player in the NFL.

While Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow took the "title" with three votes, Andrews was one of 11 offensive players to get a vote.

"Another breakout year — his first All-Pro selection and second Pro Bowl after getting 107 catches for 1,361 yards and nine touchdowns," The Athletic's Greg Auman wrote. "That's 509 yards better than his previous high — he did have 10 touchdowns in 2019 in his first Pro Bowl season. His 107 catches were fifth in the league and most among tight ends. Only twice has a tight end had more catches in a season: Zach Ertz with 116 in 2018 and Jason Witten with 110 in 2012."

After Andrews caught his first touchdown in Sunday's Pro Bowl, analyst Louis Riddick said, "He is one of the best – and I think one of the most undervalued – players in the entire league."

Quick Hits

  • Bruce Cunningham, who was the Ravens' longtime PA announcer, announced he's retiring from FOX45 after 45 years in TV news. His last day will be March 31.

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