The Ravens have officially exercised the fifth-year option on quarterback Lamar Jackson before the May 3 deadline, keeping the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player under contract through the 2022-23 season.
The move was expected as Jackson and the Ravens work to reach agreement on a long-term deal. According to figures released by the NFL in March, Jackson's contract for the 2022 season will reportedly be $23.016 million under terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
Head Coach John Harbaugh guaranteed on "The Rich Eisen Show" this week that Baltimore would pick up the option.
The 24-year-old Jackson has a 30-7 regular season record as a starter and has emerged as one of the NFL's marquee performers, leading Baltimore to three straight postseasons since entering the league as the 32nd pick in the 2018 draft.
Talks between Jackson and the Ravens will continue as they work to reach an agreement before 2022.
"That's ongoing," General Manager Eric DeCosta said during the team's pre-draft media conference. "That's definitely a fluid thing. Lamar and I have had a discussion about that. It's important to us, and it's important to him. Lamar is obviously a very patient guy. He wants to be the best he can be. He wants this team to be the best it can be, and he wants to win very badly. So, we're aligned that way. I'm confident that we'll continue to discuss this, and I think at some point, hopefully, we'll have some good news for everybody."
Jackson is in line for the richest contract extension in franchise history, one which will challenge how Baltimore builds the team around him. The Ravens have already re-signed core players such as Ronnie Stanley, Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Nick Boyle and Tavon Young to contract extensions over the past two seasons, and DeCosta has said that he would also like to re-sign tight end Mark Andrews to an extension.
While discussion about his potential contract extension will continue, Jackson remains focused on winning. He is a unique talent, an electrifying player who elevates teammates with his work ethic, leadership and energy. He was recently in Arizona working out with teammates Andrews, Marquise Brown, J.K. Dobbins and Sammy Watkins.
The Ravens added to Jackson's weapons Thursday night with the selection of Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman with the 27th-overall pick. Now he'll continue to take the next steps in the development of his young career.
Obviously, I look up to Lamar a lot, just being able to get on the same field as him and being able to be his teammate and learn a lot from him," Bateman said Thursday night. "So, I'm just excited to get to work with him."
DeCosta feels fortunate to have a franchise quarterback with Jackson's talent and drive.
"We understand that if we do sign a long-term deal with Lamar Jackson, that's going to change the way we've operated the last couple of years. We look at that as a great problem to have. We aspire to that type of problem," DeCosta said.
"We want to have the franchise quarterback. He's the face of the team, and he represents the team as well as he does, and he gives us a chance to win every game. So, that's a positive. It will change the way that we do contracts, potentially. We will have to be probably a little bit more careful about which players we sign and which players we don't sign. We may lose some good, young players. That's unfortunately just the salary cap age that we're in, and it happens to every single team. So, we'll be aggressive, if possible. I think the draft will continue and will always remain the lifeblood of this organization when it comes to building this team and building the roster, and draft picks will be more important than ever."