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The Future Is Now for Jackson

Lamar Jackson Pittsburgh Steelers Pulone 2
Joey Pulone/Baltimore Ravens
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Lamar Jackson doesn’t appear overly concerned about landing a new deal with the Ravens.

He admitted earlier this month that there has not been much progress with his contract negotiations.

To his credit, Jackson is more focused on getting healthy and backing up safety Chuck Clark, who had some strong words after the regular-season finale against the Steelers.

“I really only have one message for all of the questions, you know what I’m saying? So, every question that is going to come after this, as respectfully as I can say as possible, just watch how we bounce back. That’s all I have to say,” Clark said.

Jackson was in no mood to talk about his long-term future when he met with the media after the season. He dismissed any discussions about a new deal.

“No, we haven’t talked about it yet, but I’ve got to worry about getting back right, right now, and getting ready for this offseason because what Chuck said, that’s real. That’s real,” Jackson said.

The Ravens would like to reach an extension with Jackson before he becomes a free agent in 2023. Jackson will play next season under a fifth-year option that pays him $23.02 million.

Signing Jackson is one of the top priorities for Ravens GM Eric DeCosta. It’s also one of DeCosta’s biggest challenges because Jackson does not have a formal agent.

Jackson is likely looking for a deal in excess of $40 million per season, which is the going rate for franchise quarterbacks.

Jackson is coming off a subpar season where he missed five games because of an illness and an ankle injury. He threw for 2,882 yards with 16 touchdowns and a career-high 13 interceptions. He also held onto the ball too long and was sacked 38 times, also a career-high.

Jackson led the team with 767 yards rushing despite only playing 12 games.

Ironically, he was injured dropping back to pass and not running the football.

Baltimore could put the franchise tag on Jackson to buy more time for negotiations but that could also cost them close to $30 million.

Josh Allen recently reached a six-year, $258 million extension with the Buffalo Bills that pays him $43 million annually and includes $150 million of guaranteed money.

The contract makes Allen the second-highest-paid total value contract behind the $450 million deal that Patrick Mahomes signed with the Kansas City Chiefs last year.

Jackson most certainly will be looking for a similar deal and possibly more.

Allen, the seventh overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, threw for 4,407 passing yards with 36 passing touchdowns and 15 interceptions last season. He also ran for 763 rushing yards on 122 carries with another six scores.

Jackson, who was selected by the Ravens with the 32nd overall pick in the 2018 draft, has gone 37-12 as the starter in the regular season. He has thrown for 9,967 yards with 84 touchdowns and 31 interceptions over his four-year career.

Jackson also has a league MVP under his belt and is 1-3 in the postseason.

At some point, the Ravens and Jackson will have to sit down at the bargaining table and agree to a new contract.

Until then, Jackson’s status is going to be a key storyline until a deal gets done.

If the Ravens don’t want to break the bank, some other team will.

The situation is not going to get any easier.

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