OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Former NFL head coach Jim Mora Jr. is confident Lamar Jackson will continue to ascend as a quarterback and that a new deal with the Ravens is on the horizon.
“I think he’s always been an underrated passer," Mora told Raven Country. "He’s not the greatest passer in the NFL, but he doesn’t need to be. He needs to be adequate. He needs to take care of the football. He needs to not throw interceptions. We are seeing that start to happen.
"The talent is undeniable to me. You gasp when you think about $40 million, but that’s the going rate and it’s a worthwhile risk for this type of player because he is without a doubt a game-changer. I was a defensive coordinator and the pressure he points on a defense is really hard to measure. He’s hard to prepare for.”
Jackson, who was selected by the Ravens with the 32nd overall pick in the 2018 draft, has gone 30-7 as the starter in the regular season. He has thrown for 7,085 yards with 68 touchdowns and 18 interceptions over his young career. Jackson is also the only quarterback in NFL history to run for over 1,000 yards in two seasons and has 2,906 yards rushing and 19 scores overall.
Jackson also won the first playoff game of his career this past season over the Tennessee Titans. The Ravens are fully committed to him over the long term and expect to reach a new contract before he can test the free-agent market.
However, Jackson will be looking for a deal worth around $40 million
“I think the last thing the Ravens want to do is get into any type of dissension between Lamar and the club," Mora said. "I don’t think that will ever happen. I’d exercise the option with the intent to sign him to a long-term deal at a high number. That’s what they’ll do. I think maybe before the season starts we will even see a restructure or an extension and everyone is happy for the next several years before someone else comes along and breaks the bank and the market is reset.”
Despite his style of play, Jackson has mostly avoided injuries throughout his young career. Mora has seen Jackson can better each year protecting his body. He compared Jackon's prowess at understanding when to former NFL quarterback Michael Vick, who Mora coached in Atlanta from 2004 to 2006.
“When I watched him play this year, he reminded me of when I coached Mike Vick," Mora said. "What we always tried to do with Mike is when he was running the ball, I wanted to get him outside the numbers, outside the hash where he could protect himself, where he could get out of bounds. Or, if he was involved in contact, it was with a defensive back type of player, not with a bigger guy or he could slide and see things around him. When I watch Lamar, I’m seeing those things start to appear. He’s learning how to take care of his body.”
As a result, Mora is confident the Ravens and Jackson will find common ground on a new deal. He also doesn't see Jackson changing his style of play anytime soon because that is what separates him from other quarterbacks.
"I think there are some risks there but you’re talking worthwhile risks," Mora said. "You’re talking about a talent that is still developing. He’s still early in his career. He shows great promise as an overall quarterback prospect. I think as goes through his career, you’ll see him continue to use his legs because it’s a great asset. You’ll also see him understand he needs to protect his body.
"He’ll continue to develop as a thrower, as a quarterback, as a field. general, as a game manager, all of those things."