Flanked by GM Eric DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh, Lamar Jackson held his first press conference after signing a new five-year, $260 million deal that makes him the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback. The mega extension includes no-tag and no-trade clauses and will pay Jackson a record $80 million in 2023, according to CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones.
The press conference was given a festive atmosphere that was mainly focused on the future. On that note, Jackson chose not to discuss his recent trade request after Baltimore placed the non-exclusive label on him earlier this offseason.
“I didn’t really care about other teams,” Jackson said. “I just really wanted to get something here. Other teams are cool, but I wanted to be a Raven. I said something in 2018…I meant it. I wanted to get this done…I really wanted to end my career here and win a Superbowl.”
Jackson said he liked the language in the offer he eventually signed. Despite the problems with a new deal, Jackson insisted he never wanted to play anywhere else. He said he also appreciated Harbaugh and DeCosta’s continued support throughout the process.
“It means a lot,” Jackson said, “to have guys, your head coach and your GM, who want you to be here and believe you can help your team reach the ultimate goal in football.”
Jackson also wants to set more records. Already the owner of the NFL’s top season for a quarterback, the former league MVP has set his sights on erasing Peyton Manning’s 10-yard-old single-season passing mark.
“I’m very excited,” Jackson said of the Ravens’ upcoming season. “I think I said to someone, I want to throw like 6,000 yards with the guns we’ve got. I’m not an individual, award-winning guy. I just want to do that because nobody’s ever done that before, and we’ve got the weapons to do that. … I just can’t wait to get started.”
Jackson then rolled off his rolodex of teammates he believes can lead to that kind of success. He called the Ravens’ offseason additions of rookie receiver Zay Flowers and three-time Pro Bowler Odell Beckham Jr. Jackson is also excited to reconnect with Rashod Bateman, who is returning from a foot injury that required surgery. Jackson also gave a shout-out to tight ends Isaiah Likely and Mark Andrews, his main target since coming to Baltimore. The Ravens’ offense also includes running backs JK Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill.
Speaking of Beckham, Jackson said he requested, but did not request, that the Ravens sign the veteran wide. Ditto the eternal Pro Bowl outside of DeAndre Hopkins, who is still employed by the Cardinals despite a slew of trade rumors.
“He contacted me,” Jackson said of Beckham. “I was hyped about it… and then with a new hire like him, with his CV, we can improve our reception area and we can go somewhere. I was definitely hyped about that.”
Jackson’s optimism also stems from what the Ravens’ offense could look like with new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Monken is fresh off calling plays for the two-time defending champion Georgia Bulldogs. He also served as the school’s quarterbacks coach during that period.
“I’ve heard from the guys that the offense is looking pretty smooth,” Jackson said. “From what I see it looks different, and I like it so far.”
Since his MVP season, Jackson has ended two seasons early due to injuries. As for last year’s season-ending PCL injury, Jackson said he started seeing progress there about a month ago. He said he has been approved by the Ravens to participate in off-season training. Jackson said he plans to train with Flowers after Baltimore’s upcoming rookie minicamp.
While the journey wasn’t the smoothest, Thursday’s signing and subsequent press conference was the happy ending that Jackson, the Ravens’ brass, and the team’s fanbase were hoping for. Jackson, as he stressed during his press conference, expects the rest of his time in Baltimore to be even more memorable.