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Mark Andrews' Stress-Free Contract Negotiations Highlight Ravens' Culture

TE Mark Andrews
TE Mark Andrews

In Pittsburgh, top pass rusher T.J. Watt fully participated in his first training camp practice Wednesday, ending his "hold-in" as he seeks a new contract.

In Baltimore, the Ravens were celebrating a four-year contract extension with Mark Andrews, who participated in practices throughout the summer despite entering a contract year.

No two situations and players are the same, but it does highlight the way that Andrews, and his good buddy Lamar Jackson, have approached their contract negotiations in a way that's not always seen around the NFL – and it speaks to the culture built in Baltimore.

Andrews inked his extension Wednesday morning, keeping him in Baltimore through the 2025 season. He shared the news with his ecstatic family in Phoenix via a Zoom call Tuesday.

Andrews said he was "kind of curious" about whether his deal would get done before or during the season, but that over the past couple weeks talks "ramped up a little bit knowing that they kind of wanted to get it done before the season."

"So, that was awesome," he said. "I would've been fine either way. That was one of those things, I just wanted my agent and the front office to do all the stuff. They did a great job of kind of handling that and making sure that I was stress free."

Andrews did all he could this offseason to take his game to another level. He hosted his offensive teammates, including Jackson, Marquise Brown, Sammy Watkins and Rashod Bateman, for an offseason camp in Phoenix. He went to the first Tight End U, where he picked the brains of some of the other premier NFL tight ends.

On the first day at Tight End U, every player had to stand up and announce their signing bonus to the rest of the room, Andrews said. It's held like a badge of honor among players around the league, but that's not everything for those in Baltimore.

When it came time to work at the Under Armour Performance Center, Andrews was one of the most relentless and consistent practice players on the field.

"I never started football for the money; that's not what it's been about," Andrews said. "I love the competition of this sport. I love everything about it. So, it's more about just being able to get in here, play with the team and get better as a team, and that's me being here."

Andrews didn't think it was anything exclusive to him. He said that's just the kind of player the Ravens bring to Baltimore.

Jackson's contract talks have dominated the offseason media discussion, but the 2019 MVP has hardly seemed to pay it any attention. Jackson has consistently said this offseason that his focus is on improving and helping the Ravens win a Super Bowl, not his contract.

That kind of attitude can be contagious. Center Bradley Bozeman isn't the type to make a bunch of noise about his contract either, but he echoed Andrews' outlook.

"No matter [where your] contract stands, we're here to play winning football," Bozeman said. "We're going to continue to work hard and to play, regardless of what happens with that.

"I'm ecstatic for Mark. He's busted his butt. He's very underrated, in my opinion, and he's gotten what he deserves. I'm really excited about that."

Andrews agreed to his reported $56 million deal on his 26th birthday. He called it the "best birthday gift you can get." But even the way he celebrated was a window into who he is. Andrews didn't buy himself anything to celebrate (his mom did get him a pair of virtual reality Oculus headsets).

"I've been asked [what my first purchase will be] a couple times now," Andrews said. "I want to invest and save – real estate and stuff like that. There's nothing that I really want to buy, but I want to make my money grow."

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