Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta and Lamar Jackson have never divulged much about their contract talks — not who’s involved in the negotiations, not what the team has offered, not what Jackson is looking for.
On Tuesday, though, one day before Jackson can start negotiating offer sheets with other teams, the star quarterback disputed one account of what had been offered and seemed to divulge an offer that he had rejected.
In a series of tweets, Jackson indicated that an ESPN report this week saying he’d turned down a five-year extension offer last year worth $133 million fully guaranteed, and another $42 million guaranteed for injury, with future guarantees that pushed its total value to $200 million, was false. He also indicated he’d been offered a fully guaranteed $133 million over three years, or $43.3 million per year. It’s unclear whether Jackson was referring to the terms of a new offer or those reported by ESPN.
“But I need a agent?” he tweeted sarcastically. Jackson is representing himself in contract negotiations.
“People throw [poop emoji] at the wall and hope it stick,” he later wrote.
Five NFL quarterbacks have deals worth more than $43.3 million annually: Aaron Rodgers ($50.3 million), Russell Wilson ($49 million), Kyler Murray ($46.1 million), Deshaun Watson ($46 million) and Patrick Mahomes ($45 million). Only Watson, who last year signed a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million deal with the Cleveland Browns, has agreed to a contract with more than $133 million fully guaranteed at signing.
Jackson’s comments mark the latest turn in a contract standoff that has endured for over two years. The Ravens designated Jackson with the $32.4 million nonexclusive franchise tag last week, meaning they can match any offer sheet he signs when free agency opens Wednesday. If they don’t, they’d receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.
At the NFL scouting combine earlier this month, before finalizing the team’s franchise tag decision, DeCosta told reporters that he wasn’t bothered by reports about Jackson being unhappy with negotiations and his role in the offensive coordinator search.
“Here’s the thing,” DeCosta said. “What I would say is, Lamar knows the truth and I know the truth. I have to deal with Lamar. That’s all I really care about. I guess it bothers me if there’s false information out there, but in the end, it’s not going to affect my ability to get a deal done with Lamar. Once I get that deal done, then I look at is as, it all goes away.
“I mean, it bothers me when I see things that are simply not true, but Lamar and I, I think, remain resolute, and so that’s why I don’t speak about the negotiation. That’s why you’ve never seen any contract proposal that we’ve ever offered, because our agreement was that it would be between Lamar and myself. And so because of that, when I see a report like that, it’s not like I can clarify, because our agreement was that we would keep everything between the two of us.”