Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has agreed in principle to a five-year contract extension, the team announced Thursday, a long-awaited deal that will make him one of the highest-paid players in NFL history and end two-plus years of fraught negotiations.
The deal, which runs through 2027, is reportedly worth $260 million, or a league-best $52 million annually. His $185 million in reported total guarantees would also be the second most in NFL history, behind only Deshaun Watson’s fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract with the Cleveland Browns.
“For the last few months, there’s been a lot he-said, she-said, a lot of nail-biting, a lot of head-scratching going on,” Jackson said in a video the Ravens shared. “But for the next five years, there’s a lot of ‘flock’ going on. Let’s go, baby. 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.”
The agreement comes exactly a month after Jackson announced a trade request, saying the Ravens had “not been interested in meeting my value,” and 10 days after Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts signed a five-year contract extension worth an NFL-best $255 million, including $180 million guaranteed.
The deal is a symbolic and financial victory for Jackson, who negotiated one of the biggest deals in NFL history without an agent and was due to make just $32.4 million next season. After the Ravens placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on Jackson in March, allowing him to negotiate with other teams and giving general manager Eric DeCosta the right to match any offer sheet signed, Jackson had until July 17 to agree to a multiyear extension.
Only the Ravens showed any interest in signing him, at least publicly. Team officials had long expressed confidence in keeping Jackson, the franchise’s most important and popular player, even when both sides appeared at odds. After the Ravens signed wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. two weeks ago, a move that appeared to resonate with Jackson, DeCosta said Jackson was “the right player for this team to lead us to where we want to be.”
Jackson, a first-round pick in 2018, is 45-16 as a starter since taking over for Joe Flacco in November 2018 and has helped lead the Ravens to four playoff appearances and two AFC North titles. In 2019, he became just the second player voted NFL Most Valuable Player unanimously, joining childhood hero Tom Brady, as well as the youngest-ever MVP and the first Raven so honored.
Jackson’s already considered maybe the greatest running quarterback ever. During his historic 2019 season, he rushed for 1,206 yards, the most by a quarterback in NFL history, and threw for a league-high and franchise-record 36 touchdowns. Over 70 games and 61 starts, he’s passed for 12,209 yards, the second most in Ravens history, and rushed for 4,437 yards, the third most.
But after injuries cut short Jackson’s 2021 and 2022 seasons, uncertainty around his future in Baltimore grew. DeCosta and Jackson could not agree on a deal before last season, and negotiations broke down before the start of free agency last month. In Jackson’s trade request last month, he told Ravens fans on Twitter: “You all are great but I had to make a business decision that was best for my family and I.”
On Thursday, just hours before the start of the NFL draft, the Ravens and Jackson reunited at last.
“Everything we’ve done in terms of building our offense and building our team, how we think in terms of [bringing in] people and putting people around him is based on this incredible young man, his talent, his ability and his competitiveness,” coach John Harbaugh said in January. “I’ll have my fingers crossed, and my toes crossed, and I’ll be saying prayers. I have every faith that it’s going to get done, and we have the best people in the world doing it. Eric DeCosta, there’s nobody better. Eric wants him here, I want him here, [Ravens owner] Steve [Bisciotti] wants him here, and Lamar wants to be here. So it’s going to work out.”