Lamar Jackson requests trade from Ravens, but John Harbaugh expects him to remain team’s QB

Published 3/27/2023 11:04 a.m. EDT, Updated 3/27/2023 4:40 p.m. EDT

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - JANUARY 06: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens in action against the Los Angeles Chargers during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium on January 06, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland.

PHOENIX — Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday that he expects Lamar Jackson to remain the team’s quarterback despite a trade request that Jackson said he made nearly a month ago.

In a series of tweets Monday morning, Jackson wrote that “as of March 2nd,” he’d requested a trade and cited the Ravens front office’s disinterest in “meeting my value.” The Ravens designated Jackson with the nonexclusive franchise tag about two weeks ago, allowing him to negotiate offer sheets with other teams, and have worked on a long-term deal with the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player for over two years.

Jackson published his tweets just as Harbaugh was sitting down with reporters at the NFL’s annual owners meetings in Phoenix. Harbaugh said he hadn’t read Jackson’s messages and declined to share the specifics of his trade request. But Harbaugh said he remained committed to Jackson as the team’s quarterback, as he has over the past year.

“You’ve got to plan for all the contingencies, for sure, but I’m pretty fired up about Lamar Jackson,” said Harbaugh, adding that he expects Jackson to open the season as the team’s starting quarterback. “I mean, Lamar Jackson is a great player. Lamar came back in great shape last year. He’s fired up to play. That’s the Lamar that I’m looking forward to seeing. Can’t wait to get back on the grass and go to work, and I’m confident that’s going to happen.”

Harbaugh acknowledged that he hasn’t talked with Jackson in “a while” but said the team’s relationship with Jackson isn’t irreparably damaged.

“I don’t see that at all,” he said. “I mean, to me, this is the part of the way it works. And however it works — in the end, when it’s all said and done, when we’re all not around the circle of this table right now, we’re going to see each other somewhere. We’re going to give each other a hug and say, ‘How you doing?’ And we’re going to be friends. And it’s even more so that way with the players and the coaches that you work with every single day.

“So I don’t know what direction it’s going to go. I don’t have a crystal ball. I can’t tell the future. But I know whatever happens is going to be good. It’s going to be OK. And I have my hopes. And, like I said, I love Lamar Jackson.”

At his season-ending news conference, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta declined to comment on whether the team would entertain trade offers for Jackson, preferring to focus on their ongoing negotiations. After failing to reach a deal before the start of free agency earlier this month, the Ravens designated Jackson with a franchise tag tender worth $32.4 million. Last summer, he reportedly rejected a five-year extension with $133 million guaranteed at signing and $175 million guaranteed for injury.

A market has yet to develop for Jackson, who’s representing himself in contract negotiations and can sign an offer sheet with another team. If Jackson were to sign an offer sheet that the Ravens did not match, they would receive two first-round picks as compensation. Asked whether the Ravens were open to trading Jackson, Harbaugh said that ”business will be done the way it’s always done.”

He added: “But for me, my perspective, I’m getting ready for Lamar. That’s what I’m doing. And our offense, we’ve got a new offensive coordinator, very excited about Todd Monken. We’re in the lab right now building the offense and putting it together with the terminology and the plays and things like that. And that’s what you focus on as a coach. And the rest of it — you build your team. You build your team regardless. We’re building our team all the time in all the different areas that you’ve got to build it, and I know that train is moving, man. That train is moving fast.

“But here’s the thing: When Lamar gets back onboard that train, he’s fully capable of jumping on full speed. Lamar can go. And so when that train’s moving and he merges in with us, we’re going to be rolling. As a coach, that’s what I’m thinking about.”

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Jackson has not spoken to reporters since suffering a season-ending knee injury in December. In his tweets Monday morning, he said that “everyone that’s has met me or been around me know I love the game of football and my dream is to help a team win the super bowl. You all are great but I had to make a business decision that was best for my family and I. No matter how far I go or where my career takes me, I’ll continue to be close to my fans of Baltimore Flock nation and the entire State of Maryland. You’ll See me again.”

This story will continue to be updated.

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