As the details of Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s five-year, $260 million contract extension come into focus, this much is clear: There are a lot of people glad to have the deal done.

Jackson’s happy. The Ravens are happy. Their fans are happy. Their foes in the AFC North, though? Maybe not so much.

Here’s a look at the winners and losers from Thursday’s historic deal.


Lamar Jackson: We might never know what Jackson was seeking last summer, when early optimism about an extension faded and both sides agreed to postpone contract talks. We might never know how far apart the Ravens and Jackson were last month, when he announced his trade request, citing the team’s disinterest in “meeting my value.”

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What we do know is that, after two-plus years of negotiations, Jackson has agreed to a $52 million-a-year contract that makes him the highest-paid player in the NFL. It’s a big deal for the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player in a lot of ways. Jackson gets generational money, yes, but he also gets to stay with teammates who love him, coaches who know him and an organization that, five years ago, he pledged to win a Super Bowl for. If he can stay healthy, he’ll have a good chance of doing that in Baltimore over these next five years — or at least a better chance than he likely would’ve had elsewhere.

Eric DeCosta: From the time Jackson first became eligible for an extension, DeCosta said all the right things about the Ravens’ commitment to keeping their franchise quarterback: that they loved him, valued him, envisioned a future with him. But talk is cheap. The longer negotiations dragged on, and the closer Jackson got to the open market, the hollower DeCosta’s message of solidarity seemed to ring with the Ravens’ fan base. The front office’s history of spending for top-flight talent didn’t seem to matter; Jackson had to be kept, no matter the cost.

DeCosta found a way. It wasn’t easy. He had to tiptoe through the troubles of negotiating directly with Jackson. He had to offer the occasional olive branch (even if one such branch looked like a $15 million contract for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.). He had to risk the exposure of a nonexclusive franchise tag. He had to resort to void years. Ultimately, though, DeCosta got a deal done. And now he’s free to focus on the draft and the Ravens’ next wave of deals.

John Harbaugh: Fairly or unfairly, Harbaugh became the face of the Ravens’ impasse with Jackson last month. After Jackson announced his trade request just as Harbaugh was meeting with reporters at the NFL owners’ meetings, the longtime coach sat through a half-hour of questions interrogating their relationship and why it seemed on the rocks. Through it all, he betrayed little fear of losing Jackson to another team.

On Thursday, that confidence was rewarded with a long-awaited reunion. Jackson had arrived in Baltimore right when Harbaugh needed a boost the most, helping lift the Ravens to a playoff appearance in 2018 after a three-year absence. Now, with Jackson’s return secured, Harbaugh could have one of his most talented teams ever. He’ll still get question after question about Jackson over the next year, of course. But he won’t have to worry about predicting an uncertain future.

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Todd Monken: When the former Georgia offensive coordinator was introduced as the Ravens’ next play-caller in February, he couldn’t rightly say whom his next quarterback would be. Now he knows: It’s the uber-talented Jackson, the former MVP, the electric running threat coming off a season with breathtaking (if inconsistent) highs as a pocket passer.

Monken’s partnership with Jackson will probably be productive. It will certainly be interesting and innovative. At Georgia, he modernized the Bulldogs’ offense, overseeing a Stetson Bennett-led offense as it plowed its way to consecutive College Football Playoff titles. In Baltimore, Monken will have an even more dynamic dual-threat quarterback, and an offense with the pieces to score a lot more points.

Ravens receivers: The only Ravens more delighted by the deal than Jackson? Maybe the guys he’ll be throwing passes to. For as beloved as Tyler Huntley is in the team’s locker room, he is a backup quarterback, and backups have certain limitations. Every season, Jackson seems to play his way into the MVP discussion, if only for a couple of weeks. Even if the Ravens remain a run-focused offense under Monken, a successful ground game invariably opens passing windows downfield.

That’s good news for a Ravens receiving corps looking to put last season’s shortcomings behind it. There are valuable opportunities ahead. With a breakthrough year, Rashod Bateman can prove that his fifth-year option should be picked up next offseason. Odell Beckham Jr. and Devin Duvernay will be playing for an extension in Baltimore or a nice payday elsewhere. The Ravens’ tight end room, led by star Mark Andrews, should remain heavily featured.

Jackson’s only two years removed from a season in which he averaged 240.2 passing yards per game behind a porous offensive line. With the Ravens’ upgraded weapons on offense, he could make a lot of receivers very happy in 2023.

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NFL owners: Even Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti acknowledged his reluctance to give Jackson a fully guaranteed deal. After a year of speculation about how Deshaun Watson’s fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million deal with the Cleveland Browns might set a precedent for quarterbacks, Jackson’s situation ended like most high-profile contract standoffs do: with a lot of money being handed over, but not all of it guaranteed. That’s a win for the NFL’s club of billionaire owners unwilling or unable to put hundreds of millions of dollars into escrow.

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The necessity of agents: For two years, all Jackson heard from the media and fans, and maybe even from friends and family, were questions about why he hadn’t hired an agent. Didn’t he need a buffer with the front office? Didn’t he need someone with the legal expertise to negotiate a record-breaking contract? Didn’t he need a licensed liaison who could explore his market around the NFL after being designated with the nonexclusive franchise tag? Didn’t he realize he was losing money?

Jackson didn’t care. Even if his protracted negotiations did push back the timing of his record-breaking deal, he got the deal done on his terms. Three months after the Ravens signed Roquan Smith — another agent-less star — to a deal that made him the highest-paid off-ball linebacker in the NFL, they agreed to another historic deal, this one with the unlikely face of self-representation.

The Ravens’ 2023 opponents: It’s not complicated. A Ravens team with Jackson is better than a Ravens team without Jackson. Now, with his deal done, and the Ravens likely to get some salary cap relief from its back-loaded structure, they could get even better. On paper, their 2023 team has the talent to have a top-10 offense, a top-five defense and a top-three special teams group. (Predictions in April are, it should be noted, pretty worthless.) However the Ravens’ draft unfolds, they should emerge from the weekend as one of the biggest threats to dethroning the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC.

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Jonas Shaffer is a Ravens beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun. Shaffer graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Silver Spring.

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