The Ravens are lining up contingency plans as the contractual standoff with Lamar Jackson continues

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INDIANAPOLIS — Eric D’Costa recently met with Lamar Jackson to discuss the star quarterback’s contract, and the Ravens’ general manager came out of the negotiating session optimistic about reaching an agreement on a long-term deal. However, D’Costa acknowledged that there are major deadlines looming and both sides recognize the “urgency of the situation”.

The final day of the franchise’s two-week window is Tuesday and the Ravens will apply the exclusive or non-exclusive label to Jackson — DeCosta insists the decision has yet to be made — if no agreement is reached on a long-term deal. t been reached. Teams can officially start talking to free agents on March 13th.

“We have four, five or six different plans depending on what happens over the next 10 days,” head coach John Harbaugh admitted at an NFL Scouting news conference Wednesday.

As expected, the majority of DeCosta’s press conference, along with a meeting with the Ravens beat reporters afterward, focused on the organization’s contract standoff with Jackson. DeCosta remained on the brand, declining to discuss whether Jackson’s desire for a fully guaranteed deal was a hold-up, acknowledging the challenges of negotiating directly with the quarterback and keeping the focus on extending Jackson rather than trading him.

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That didn’t stop speculation on the block this week that the Ravens would consider trading Jackson if they get a solid offer.

“We’ve probably done more signings than any other team in the league. Maybe we’re second. However, I aspire to great players. I covet midfielders. I aspire to great players,” D’Costa said. We want to do better for the club. We are trying to do what we can for Lamar. We want to make everyone happy. We want to make the crows happy. I want to make (owner Steve Bisciotti) happy. I want to make Lamar happy. I want to make our fans happy.”

DeCosta seems to understand that he is running out of time to end his months-old stalemate. If Jackson’s franchise tag is added to the team’s payroll—it would be $32.4 million for the non-exclusive tag and about $45 million for the franchise tag—it would make it very difficult for the Ravens to make any significant outside additions aside from the draft. They’ll also likely have to cut a number of veterans in order to be cap-compliant.

There is also the matter of the need for time to enact Plan B for Jackson if it becomes clear that a deal cannot be reached, and the Crows will either have to replace the 26-year-old or prepare for the prospect of him being sat out. Most of the offseason/training camp while first year offensive coordinator Todd Monken installed a new offense.

“It’s a time frame, however, it’s also a time frame that’s not necessarily a hard time frame, which means we can continue negotiating,” D’Costa said. “By franchising Lamar, that doesn’t stop us from closing a long-term deal. It’s been done 1,000 times in the league. So yeah, there’s a time frame, but the time frame is really moving, albeit now that there are some different dynamics involved. I don’t want to.” To live in a world where there is no optimism, where I would give up hope. You see me during matches, sometimes I’m in a dark place at the end of the game when I know there is no hope, we lost the game. I don’t see that here, I won’t feel it. I won’t see that never here.

“I dismiss it because I’ve seen too many deals happen when things looked bleak or I didn’t see deals when I thought, oh, it’s a slam dunk. It takes two people to do it, it takes communication, it takes respect, it takes an appreciation of each other and it takes an understanding of the greater good and how this will fit in.” The thing is together. I’m still positive. I have no reason not to stay positive. We’ve talked recently, had good meetings lately, and so, we’ll see what happens.”

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Sometime soon, though, the optimism from DeCosta and Harbaugh should be coupled with some positive steps in the negotiations. While DeCosta maintains that recent negotiations with Jackson have been productive, he acknowledges that the Ravens will be challenged until an actual agreement is reached. Until there is some cost and certainty with Jackson, it will be very difficult for the other pieces to fall behind the middle.

“It’s a wrench,” DeCosta said. “We don’t know, so yeah, that slows you down a bit. It kind of creates a little bit of a haze in terms of what the future is going to look like with your roster. There are a few things we’re not going to do now that we might try to do. But there’s no bigger question now, no. There’s a bigger decision – there’s no greater challenge for this organization going forward than this contract. So all of my effort – well, most of my effort – is focused on this. I would say the rest is focused on the draft and free agency. But you’re right: It’s really hard to Have a clear vision of what the future will look like so we can deliver on this decade.”

DeCosta usually deviates from or does not stick to roster questions while on the set, as he is focused on evaluating the draft class at the league’s largest pre-draft show. So, on Wednesday it was known that DeCosta admitted that his biggest priority from Indianapolis is “dealing with Lamar.”

Obviously, the process has been difficult at times for DeCosta, especially after contract talks broke down last June. Jackson told team officials he was not interested in negotiating the first half of last season. When he became interested, the Crows couldn’t close the gap and get close to the asking price.

Jackson is widely believed to be seeking a fully guaranteed deal, similar to the five-year, $230 million deal the Browns signed for quarterback Deshaun Watson to miss last season. Bisciotti made it clear last March that he doesn’t think Watson should get that kind of deal and it wouldn’t necessarily affect the team’s approach to trying to extend Jackson.

Twelve months later, they still don’t have a deal with Jackson and the contract standoff remains one of the biggest stories in the NFL.

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“Negotiating in good faith means that both sides must understand each other’s position and make concessions,” D’Costa said on Wednesday. “Every negotiation I’ve been a part of — there have been very few in the last four years, you guys know — has been a give and take. That’s what good faith means. It means you respect the position of the other, you give up one thing to give other things.” Usually both sides in negotiations move somewhat and find common ground, and that’s it.”

If this is going to happen, it has to happen very soon. Harbou, for one, still thinks she will.

“He’s a midfield player. I love him, and as a coach, I’m just looking forward to seeing him get it done, but it’s not easy. It’s never easy. It’s the business part of it. But I’m really hopeful and excited, very hopeful and can’t wait for it to be finished.”

At his end-of-season press conference in January, Harbaugh said the organization is “200 percent” committed to having Jackson be the team’s starting quarterback in 2023. Asked Wednesday if that has changed, Harbaugh said, “As it was in That time. I think your point is, 200%, we want Lamar. And I think 200% Lamar wants the Ravens. I’m going to keep believing that.”


Harbaugh confirmed that Rob Leonard, who spent the past season as the Ravens’ outside linebackers coach, has left the organization to join the Las Vegas Raiders as the defensive line coach. That adds the outside linebacker spot to the list of coaching vacancies for the team, which also includes wide receiver and safety.

• Keith Williams, who specializes in passing games, will return, according to Harbaugh.

• Harbaugh said 2022 first-round safety Kyle Hamilton had off-season wrist surgery, but he doesn’t expect a long recovery period.

• DeCosta indicated that he has had several conversations with suspended free agent representative Marcus Peters, and that those contract talks are “ongoing”.

• DeCosta was noncommittal when asked if veteran defensive end Calais Campbell would return. Campbell said he wants to return for the NFL’s 16th season, but it will be very difficult for the Ravens to bring him back to his current figure of $9.4 million.

(Photo: Tommy Gilligan/USA Today)

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