Lamar Jackson negotiation seems to be getting worse for Ravens

INDIANAPOLIS. When the Baltimore Ravens think tank held its end-of-season press conference on January 19, the tone was encouraging but understated: Quarterback Lamar Jackson’s contract negotiations had a significant amount of information to cover and time to work was shrinking.

Six weeks later, the negotiations are stuck in a quagmire of ambiguity, and the situation among the Ravens is growing increasingly tense.

The latest twist came this week when general manager Eric DeCosta shaded his wide receivers somewhat stunningly during a media meeting at the NFL Scouting Combine, outlining Baltimore’s struggles in position evaluation with line this was to get the attention of his locker room:

“I would say that many people would say the same; this is a difficult position to evaluate in many different ways. If I had an answer, it would mean that I would probably have better receivers. We keep trying.”

The reaction from one of DeCosta’s underdogs, 2021 first-round pick Rashod Bateman, was predictably cold. A less predictable aspect was that Bateman responded publicly on social media and also included a defense of Jackson.

IN tweet that was deleted A few minutes later, Bateman responded directly to DeCosta’s remarks:

“[H]How about you use your player power and stop pointing the finger at us and #8,” Bateman wrote, referring to Jackson. “[B]lame the one you let do it…. we receive heat 24/7. and keep us healthy… take care of the USA and see what happens… there are no promises though… you are tired of you all lying and lashing out at players for no reason.”

Taking down the message Bateman tweeted “My apologies” with a hugging emoji.

What can’t be erased or replaced is the simplicity of the message: Bateman looked upset enough to go public with his CEO (which you could argue was fair game given DeCosta’s remarks), and he chose to include Jackson in his message despite that the quarterback wasn’t part of DeCosta’s quote.

Rashod Bateman (7) mentioned Lamar Jackson, albeit not by name, while applauding comments made by Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta at an NFL camp.  (Brad Penner/AP Images for Panini)
Rashod Bateman (7) mentioned Lamar Jackson, albeit not by name, while applauding comments made by Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta at the NFL scouting unit. (Brad Penner/AP Images for Panini)

The line “blame whoever you let do this” also turned out to be a less-veiled reference to former offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who “retired” in January and was replaced by Georgia Bulldogs offensive coordinator last month, Todd Monken, a hire who, as was reportedly made without Jackson’s involvement in the process. And if that wasn’t enough, Bateman’s inclusion of the words “keep us healthy” and “take care of the USA” came a day after the NFL Players Association released reports of league-wide teams that eviscerated Baltimore’s strength coaches by putting them on last place in the NFL. with an F- grade.

In a report card compiled from an anonymous survey of more than 1,300 of the more than 2,200 active NFL players, the NFLPA noted that Baltimore’s strength coaches “[W]even well below the second worst team [in the NFL]. Players don’t feel that strength is helping them to be more successful. The team recently parted ways with head strength coach Steve Saunders, so we’ll be interested to see if this area improves in his absence.”

This criticism of Saunders prompted tweets from former Ravens players Carl Davis Jr. and Quincy Adeboyejo, who lashed out at the former coach.

“I have definitely fallen victim to strength coaches. Two Labrums and some pecs.” Davis Jr wrotereferring to past traumas.

“Definitely ruined my career” Adeboyejo wrote. “A three-year season ended with consecutive injuries after being healthy my entire previous career.”

In itself, this public spanking by the NFLPA and the injury talk that followed should worry the Ravens. But combined with Bateman’s remarks to DeCosta, and combined with an ongoing awkward contract dance with Jackson (who ended his season with a seemingly tense injury showdown), it adds another layer to an ongoing saga that’s getting worse. for Baltimore. And it focuses more on the pressing questions of how the Ravens and their all-star quarterback seem to be entering coin flip territory between Jackson signing an extension or a trade this offseason.

DeCoste seems to have a hard time answering some of these questions, especially after there has been virtually nothing to report this week at the mill in the past six weeks. Not even as much as the usual “we’re making some progress” remark.

If anything, DeCosta’s comments about the talks with Jackson sounded like they were ripped out of his end-of-season press conference six weeks earlier, when the job had supposedly just finished. beginning.

“Yes, Lamar and I are talking,” DeCosta said. “We recently met. This is an ongoing discussion. We both understand the urgency of the situation; it was a good dialogue, a good discussion. I am optimistic and continue to be an optimist and we will see where this goes.”

Speaking about the problems of negotiations, DeCosta subtly mentioned an aspect that still remains a problem. Most negotiations with elite quarterbacks involve poignant moments when the general manager openly voices his criticism of a player to his agent, spurring negotiations as both sides seek common ground. Jackson does not have an agent, making such direct negotiation tactics far more risky. The GM knows he can say a few harsh things to the agent that won’t scar his relationship with the player. In this case, DeCosta would have to say these things directly to Jackson, and it could affect the future of Jackson’s relationship with the front office and coaching staff.

“I think when you’re dealing with an agent, sometimes you can talk very freely. [and] position yourself in a certain way,” DeCosta said. “You have different arguments that you can use that you might not have told the player. So I guess that’s part of it. There’s a lot of respect – a lot of respect – because I’m with a player like Lamar, with a player like Roquan Smith, who also represented himself. Every day you see commitment [and] you understand where they come from. So it’s definitely a different dynamic.”

Instead of approaching the franchise deadline on Tuesday with some thrust, it looks and sounds like the Ravens and Jackson are no closer to a long-term deal. In the meantime, the two sides trade behind-the-scenes leaks that provide different versions of what kind of deal Jackson is looking for.

All league and union sources say Jackson is looking for a long-term, fully guaranteed deal like the one Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshawn Watson signed last year. This is despite a report from ESPN’s Steven A. Smith that Jackson is not looking for a fully guaranteed deal, which continues to be denied by several sources familiar with the negotiations between Jackson and the Ravens.

The next five days will show what it all means, and the final answer will likely come in whatever form of franchise tag the team puts on Jackson, followed by his subsequent reaction to the move. Either he will accept the tag and go into the off-season with the team, or he will reject it and ask for it to be traded. What seems less likely every day is the latest expansion.

The time needed for this is running out. And the only change that has happened is that things around the Ravens have gotten worse rather than better.


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