Now, the real work begins for the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson. They need to repair a relationship that got fairly testy over the past few months.
Jackson and the Ravens have agreed to a five-year contract, NFL Network and ESPN reported, and the team confirmed Thursday, a few hours before the NFL Draft was scheduled to start. CBS Sports' Josina Anderson reported the contract was worth $260 million total, making Jackson the new highest-paid quarterback in the NFL, and $185 million guaranteed.
That ends a drawn-out drama that included Jackson getting the franchise tag, a trade request and a lot of uncertainty if he'd be back with his only NFL team.
In a video the Ravens tweeted, Jackson sounded relieved in reaching a conclusion on the negotiations.
"You know for the last few months, there's been a lot of he say, she say, a lot of nail-biting, lot of head-scratching going on, but for the next five years, there's going to be a lot of flock going on," Jackson said before waving a football with the Ravens logo on it. "Let's go, baby. Let's go. Let's go, man. Can't wait to get there. Can't wait to be there. Can't wait to light up M&T [Bank Stadium] for the next five years, man. Let's get it. "
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) April 27, 2023
Jalen Hurts' contract with the Philadelphia Eagles reset the quarterback market, and that might have helped. Either way, a sometimes messy standoff is over.
Lamar Jackson's tumultuous offseason
Jackson's offseason started with the Ravens giving him the non-exclusive franchise tag, and it was a surprise that the relationship between team and player reached that point.
Jackson was a first-round pick of the Ravens out of the University of Louisville, where he won a Heisman Trophy. He took over as the starter during his rookie season, and in his second season he was a unanimous MVP. He became the most electrifying player in the NFL, the best running quarterback the league has seen. He averages 63.4 rushing yards per game, more than 20 yards per game more than previous record holder Michael Vick.
Jackson's relationship became strained with the Ravens as the end of his rookie contract neared. When Jackson suffered a knee injury in Week 13 of last season, it was not expected to keep him out the rest of the season. However, Jackson didn't play again. There was speculation that it was due to his upcoming free agency, causing Jackson to defend himself and say his knee was unstable. Jackson didn't appear in the Ravens' playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and it was notable that he didn't even travel to the game.
That set up a contentious offseason.
Jackson got the franchise tag
Jackson was given the non-exclusive franchise tag, which set up a rare situation. There are very few good quarterbacks who get to negotiate with other teams at a prime age during free agency. It was unheard of for a 26-year-old former MVP quarterback.
Yet, the biggest story for the first few weeks of free agency was that Jackson didn't get any offers. The Atlanta Falcons said they were good moving forward with Desmond Ridder, the Washington Commanders said the same about Sam Howell. When the Houston Texans were shopping Deshaun Watson in a trade last offseason it led to a bidding war; this year Jackson was mostly ignored. The lack of news with Jackson was hard to explain.
When the Ravens signed free agent receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Jackson posted a screenshot of a FaceTime conversation between the two. In the drawn-out drama, people drew conclusions that the signing of Beckham could lead to Jackson's return to Baltimore.
It was an awkward and unprecedented offseason for Jackson and the Ravens. At least there is finally a conclusion.