While the entire NFL offseason has been a bit of a whirlwind, with star players changing teams at an extremely high rate. Some other elite players signed extensions to stay with their current teams, and the NFL draft was just completed.
One underlying story that has garnered some real attention, is the contract situation of Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. The 2019 unanimous NFL MVP is entering the final season of his rookie deal and is in no hurry to sign that lucrative multi-year extension he’s earned.
Ravens GM Eric DeCosta has been adamant about his willingness to get a deal done but concedes that the deal won’t get inked until Lamar is ready. The NFL world has been wondering what’s been holding up the deal on Lamar’s end, and now we have some insight into that.
Apparently, Jackson’s request to fix a leaky offensive line was at the heart of his discontent. He wasn’t happy with the personnel he had last season. The Ravens organization feels it did everything in its power to address Jackson’s desire in this recent NFL draft.
— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) May 7, 2022
DeCosta addressed the negotiations, or lack thereof, in an interview with “The Lounge” podcast.
“I’ve had conversations with Lamar many times and I’ve said, ‘Lamar, what can we do to help you? What is most important to you?” Honestly, the thing that he always comes back to is the offensive line.”
The Ravens offensive line struggled to protect the dynamic Jackson all of last season. Their failures and Jackson’s tendency to hold the ball too long at times often resulted in him being hit too often.
Those hits led to the first real nagging injuries of his career, the big one being a bum ankle which forced him to miss the team’s final six games. They lost all of them and fell to 8-9 by the end of the season, missing the playoffs. This after being 8-3 and the top seed in the AFC at one point.
Team Addressed OL In Draft And Free Agency
Knowing they need to protect their franchise quarterback, the Ravens signed right tackle Morgan Moses, a savvy veteran who’s played 104 of his 112 career starts with the Washington Commanders and New York Jets. His signing was huge with All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley expected to return this season. Jackson now has what the Ravens feel will be bookend protection.
The team wasn’t done, as they attacked the draft with a definite focus on adding quality offensive line help. They traded wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to the Cardinals during the draft, landing the 23rd overall pick and 100th overall pick.
They then flipped those picks to the Bills for the 25th pick and 130th. DeCosta used the 25th slot to draft center Tyler Lindenbaum from Iowa, the highest-ranked center in the draft. He’s a cornerstone piece.
DeCosta showed he wasn’t done adding to the “Jackson Wall,” when he took the massive but fleet-footed Daniel Faille with the 110th pick in the fourth round. Moses’ signing is until Faille is ready to man the right side.
— NFL (@NFL) April 29, 2022
Ravens Want To Run Ball Often: Let Jackson Be Dynamic When Needed
In 2021, only the Titans and Eagles ran the football more than the Ravens. Since Jackson became the full-time starter in 2019, the Ravens have averaged the most rushing attempts per game in the NFL.
DeCosta is excited about the team’s offseason, addressing needs and wants of the team and its star player. But he’s also quick to point out nothing is etched in stone on the line outside of Stanley at left tackle.
“There’s going to be a lot of competition for the starting spots, a certain one spot in particular, but then there’s going to be competition for those backup spots, big time. The thing we’re trying to do is be a physical, punishing offensive line. We want that kind of mindset in our group, and that’s what Tyler Lindenbaum brings to us, Pat Mekari is like that already, and a lot of our guys are. This Tyler Lindenbaum adds to it.”
Lamar Jackson excelled under pressure in the #Ravens 16-10 victory over the Browns, completing 4 of 5 passes for 60 yards and a TD (+26.9% CPOE).
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 29, 2021
With that important nugget now taken care of, the belief is that Jackson and the team will come to an agreement on a massive payday in the very near future.