Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti says the team remains ready to negotiate a contract extension for Lamar Jackson, but the timetable for a new deal with the franchise quarterback remains uncertain.
Bisciotti said he respects Jackson's right to negotiate when he's ready, and neither he nor General Manager Eric DeCosta are pressuring Jackson to pick up the pace of negotiations. Bisciotti said it was possible that the 2019 NFL MVP may not sign a new deal prior to the start of next season, when he enters the final year of his contract.
"Unless he has a change of heart, calls Eric and says 'I'm ready,''' Bisciotti said. "Eric can't keep calling him and going, 'Hey Lamar, you really need to get in here and get this thing done.' It's not a GM's job.
"Eric can structure contracts any way he wants. I think we're a pretty aggressive team and when Lamar's ready…we'll pay him when he's ready."
Bisciotti loves how much Jackson cares about winning and bringing a championship to Baltimore, and appreciates his commitment to achieving that goal, even with so much speculation surrounding his contract.
"It's unique, because everybody expects you to say – I've got to get mine now," Bisciotti said. "The kid is so obsessed with winning a Super Bowl, that I think deep down he doesn't think he's worthy. I think he wants that to say, 'Now I deserve to be on top.' I don't think he is turned on by money that much and he knows it's coming one way or the other.
"People can speculate any way they want. But I don't talk to Lamar. It's not my role. What are you going to do with a guy who wants to be unique? You don't browbeat him into being a conformist.
"Without a QB you believe in, life (stinks) as an NFL owner and as a fan base. We appreciate him. All I know is that his teammates love him. The front office loves him. So it's like, you just keep doing you, Lamar, and we'll make it work."
The price for franchise quarterbacks keeps rising, with Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns
receiving a reported five-year, $230 million contract that was fully guaranteed. Bisciotti said that deal caught every team's attention, but that it hasn't impacted negotiations with Jackson to this point.
"Acknowledging that it could have an impact is different than me worrying about it," Bisciotti said. "My competitors have always done things differently than us. You have to stake out your way. We don't change because of that.
"I had a reaction to it. I wish they hadn't guaranteed the whole contract. To me, that's something that is groundbreaking and it will make negotiations harder with others. But it doesn't necessarily mean that we have to play that game. If I was in bogged-down negotiations with Lamar, then maybe I would have a quicker reaction to that news."
Bisciotti said Jackson could decide to play with the Ravens under the franchise tag after next season, knowing that option would make him of the league's highest-paid quarterbacks, even though he wouldn't have the security of a long-term deal.
"Kirk Cousins did it that way," Bisciotti said. "What if Lamar says that, I'll play on the fifth-year, I'll play on the franchise, I'll play on another franchise, then you can sign me. That gives me three years to win a Super Bowl, so you can make me a $60 million quarterback, because that's where it will be four years from now. That might be the case."