Sports

Lamar to halt contract talks once season starts

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson will stop contract negotiations when the regular season starts.

After Saturday’s practice, Jackson confirmed for the first time that he will cut off talks by Week 1 of the regular season, which is four weeks away.

“We’re coming up to it. It’s coming up,” Jackson said when asked about a hard deadline. “The season’s coming up. We’re going to be good for the season.”

Asked if it’s fair to say he wants his contract situation settled by Week 1, Jackson replied, “Yeah, for sure.”

Jackson, 25, provided no other updates on contract talks. It’s not surprising that Jackson wants to pause contract talks before the season begins because he is one of the few high-profile NFL players who does not have an agent. Jackson is representing himself, which means Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta can only negotiate with the former NFL MVP.

He is entering his fifth-year option, which will pay him $23.016 million this season. If a deal isn’t finalized by March 7, the Ravens would have to place the franchise tag on Jackson to keep him from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

The sides didn’t engage in contract talks for five months after the season because Ravens officials said Jackson didn’t show any “urgency” to do so. Jackson and the Ravens then initiated negotiations in June.

The last quarterback to sign a big-money extension was the Arizona CardinalsKyler Murray, whose average per year ($46.1 million) and guaranteed money ($160 million) both rank second among quarterbacks. Deshaun Watson tops all quarterbacks with $230 million guaranteed, and Aaron Rodgers ranks first with an average of $50.3 million per season.

Since talking over as Baltimore’s starting quarterback midway through the 2018 season, Jackson ranks fourth in victories (37), 11th in touchdown passes (83) and first in rushing yards by a quarterback (3,534).

“I’m very confident that it will get done when it gets done,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “You can’t really rush it. I don’t think either side wants to rush anything; both sides want to be happy when it’s all said and done, and probably both sides unhappy when it’s all said and done, to some degree, right? That’s kind of how it works.”

Harbaugh added, “But he’s doing a great job. He’s practicing well. He’s a great leader; on the sideline, he’s right into the game. So, everything, thumbs up.”

After skipping voluntary workouts in the spring, Jackson participated in mandatory minicamp and has practiced every day in training camp. The biggest difference for Jackson has been in the weight room. Jackson has added over 10 pounds of lean muscle and has bulked up to 230 pounds.

“I just wanted to look the part, look a little sturdy back there [and] look a little big,” Jackson said. “I feel like it worked. I’m still fast. I’m still moving around like I did before. I just added a little more weight.”

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