Hours before the Ravens kicked off against the Bills in an AFC divisional playoff game, there was talk about general manager Eric DeCosta exploring a contract extension for Lamar Jackson.
The Baltimore quarterback is not due to become an unrestricted free agent until 2023, but the Ravens have prioritized reaching deals with their key playmakers before they test the free-agent market.
The Ravens will undoubtedly exercise the fifth-year option by May 3 for Jackson this offseason if they can't reach a long-term deal.
Jackson's season came to a disappointing end with a 17-3 loss to the Bills. He threw a critical interception on a third-and-goal to Buffalo cornerback Taron Johnson, who ran 101 yards for the score. Baltimore never recovered and Jackson was later forced from the game with a concussion.
He fell to 1-3 in the postseason over his young career and his teammates said it was another learning experience.
“He’s frustrated. He’s doing good," wide receiver Willie Snead said. "He said he’s fine from the concussion, but he’s frustrated that we were that close, and we didn’t get to finish drives. He’s just the ultimate competitor. He doesn’t like to lose, and he knows that he can get better. He sees the plays afterwards; he knows that he has to be better at reading through zones and stuff like that. But he’s doing alright.
"He’s going to be good. I just know that he’s going to get better from this like he always does; proving people wrong and just trying to take that next step in his journey. So, he’s doing good, and he’ll be alright.”.
The Ravens drafted Jackson with the 32nd overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. He signed a 4 year, $9.5 million deal that included a $4.9 million signing bonus, Jackson will earn a base salary of $1.1 million next season with a cap hit of $3 million.
Patrick Mahomes jolted the market for quarterbacks with a 10-year extension worth up, $503 million deal with the Chiefs. The deal is the most lucrative in North American sports history, surpassing the previous mark set by Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, who signed a 12-year, $426.5 million contract in 2019.
Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson inked a four-year, $156 million extension in September and that would be a better model for a potential new deal for Jackson.
A new deal for Jackson would likely be worth about $43.5 million annually over a four-year extension.
One year after being named NFL, MVP, Jackson had another solid season. He threw for 2,757 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions (99.3 rating). Jackson also became the first quarterback in league history to record two 1,000 yards rushing seasons.
The Ravens need to get him more support on the offensive line with pass blocking and a playmaking wide receiver.
Jackson still needs to improve as a passer, but he's led the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his three seasons. Baltimore is confident he can eventually bring home a Super Bowl trophy.
That will be the main focus this offseason.