Ravens GM Eric DeCosta on Lamar Jackson: ‘We want Lamar here’


Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta remains “optimistic” that a new deal will get done with star quarterback Lamar Jackson

DeCosta said that he and Jackson met recently and that discussions are ongoing. The former is still hopeful that the sides will agree to terms on a contract before the March 7 tag deadline. DeCosta added that he has not made a decision on which tag the team would use on Jackson if it came to that. The tag would prevent the 2018 NFL MVP from reaching free agency. 

“We both understand the urgency of the situation,” DeCosta said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “It’s been a good dialogue, a good discussion.”

There have been reports that Jackson wants a fully guaranteed deal much like Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson‘s five-year, $230 million contract. But other reports say Jackson is not holding out for a fully guaranteed deal.


If the Ravens place the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson, he could still negotiate with other teams, but Baltimore could match whatever offer he receives or acquire two first-round picks in exchange. The exclusive franchise tag would give the Ravens exclusive negotiation rights with Jackson, but it comes with a $45 million cap number for quarterbacks — compared to $32.4 million with the non-exclusive franchise tag. 

Should Ravens be all-in and pay Lamar Jackson?

The NFL’s franchise tag window is now open and one player to keep an eye on is Lamar Jackson. Joy Taylor breaks down why the Ravens should be all-in on the former NFL MVP.

DeCosta acknowledged that there are challenges negotiating with players who represent themselves, like Jackson is doing, but also pointed out how the franchise has worked through it before. The Ravens inked star middle linebacker Roquan Smith, who also represents himself, to a five-year deal in January after acquiring him midseason. 

“You have a lot of regard for the player first and foremost,” DeCosta said of negotiations with players. “I think when you deal with an agent, sometimes you’re able to speak very freely, position yourself a certain way. You have different arguments that you can use that maybe you wouldn’t say to a player. So I think that’s part of it. … You see the commitment. You see where they’re coming from. So it’s definitely a different dynamic.”

The Ravens, DeCosta said, are aware of the quarterback purgatory many teams find themselves in. That’s a place Baltimore doesn’t want to be. 

“You can’t win in this league without a strong quarterback. That’s been proven,” DeCosta said. “So we want Lamar here. We think he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He’s certainly one of our best players and we want him back. So yeah, we understand that. Living in a world without a quarterback is a bad world to live in. I think there are a lot of coaches and GMs that would probably say they are living in that world right now. We’re aware of that.”

The 26-year-old Jackson missed six games last season, including the Ravens’ wild-card playoff loss to the Bengals, after suffering what he said was a Grade 2 PCL sprain in his knee. In 12 games, he completed 62.3% of his passes for 2,242 yards and 17 touchdowns with seven interceptions. 

One of the most prolific dual-threat quarterbacks in NFL history, the two-time Pro Bowler also had 112 carries for a team-high 764 rushing yards and three touchdowns in 2022. 

Should Jackson hold out for fully guaranteed deal?

Emmanuel Acho, LeSean McCoy, Joy Taylor and David Helman discuss how Lamar Jackson should handle his contract dispute with the Ravens.

“The only camps that I know of is me and Lamar,” DeCosta said of the negotiations. “We talk. We text. And so I’m not really too concerned with perceptions. I’ve seen a lot of perceptions in the last 27 years and a lot of times those perceptions probably aren’t accurate. Lamar and I continue to talk. I have a lot of admiration and respect for Lamar. I think he would say the same about me. 

“Like I said, it’s a tough negotiation,” he continued. “There are some dynamics that make it challenging. But I remain optimistic. We remain talking, and I’m excited about that.”

Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports. He previously worked for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, where he was the Titans beat writer for a year and a half. He covered the Seattle Seahawks for SeattlePI.com for three seasons (2018-20) prior to moving to Tennessee. You can follow Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.

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