At the NFL Combine Wednesday, Eric DeCosta was asked if he needed to consider the quarterback trade Lamar Jackson Eventually and replied that few teams have made more trades since he became the Baltimore Ravens‘ Managing Director four years ago.
“Nevertheless, I desire great players. I covet quarterbacks. And I love Lamar,” DeCosta told reporters in the Baltimore area of Indianapolis. “Well, that didn’t take into account for me once. We want to do what is best for the club. We’re trying to do what we can for Lamar. We want to make everyone happy.”
DeCosta expressed hope that an agreement can be reached with Jackson before the Franchise Day date next week, although no agreement has been reached after two years of negotiations. DeCosta said he recently met with Jackson, adding, “Both understand the urgency of the situation.”
If the sides can’t secure a new contract by Tuesday, Baltimore would have to put the franchise label on Jackson to keep him from becoming an unrestricted free agent. The tag would take up all of the Ravens’ available salary cap space and severely limit the team’s options in free agency, potentially involving the addition of a much-needed wide receiver and starting cornerback.
“You can’t win in this league without a strong quarterback. I mean, that’s proven,” DeCosta said. “So we want Lamar here. We think he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He’s definitely one of our best players and we want him back. We understand it’s a bad world to live in a world without a quarterback in.”
According to sources, Jackson wants a fully guaranteed deal like the one he was given Deshaun Watson last year, and the Ravens have been reluctant to offer that because they believe Watson’s deal is more of an outlier than a precedent. DeCosta called it a “tough deal” with Jackson, who is one of the few high-profile players to represent himself rather than hire an agent.
“I don’t want to live in a world where there’s no optimism, where I’m just going to give up hope,” DeCosta said. “You saw me during the games. Sometimes I’m in a dark place at the end of the game because there is no hope. We lost the game. I don’t see this. I won’t feel this. “I reject that . I’ve seen a lot of deals when things were looking bleak, or I haven’t seen deals that I thought would hit the bull’s eye. It takes two people to do it. i stay positive I have no reason not to stay positive.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he was “fervently hopeful” that a deal would go through and that he was “200 percent” believing Jackson wanted to be with the Ravens. During this off-season, Harbaugh made plans for Lamar to be part of that team going forward. Harbaugh said when speaking to offensive coordinator candidates, “All of these interviews were based on Lamar being the quarterback.”
“He’s my quarterback, he’s my guy,” Harbaugh said. “I love him.”
If the Ravens have to use the tag for Jackson, DeCosta wouldn’t say whether the team would use the non-exclusive ($32 million) or the exclusive ($45 million).
“Sure, those are big numbers,” DeCosta said. “We have known that they are great numbers, [and] we are prepared for that. And we have four or five or six different plans depending on what happens.”
Under the non-exclusive tag, Jackson could sign an offer sheet with another team, but Baltimore has the right to adjust it or take two first-round picks as compensation. Under the exclusive tag, the Ravens control Jackson’s rights and all trade talks and compensation with other teams.
The Ravens, who currently have $21 million in cap space, would need to make more room to accommodate Jackson’s tag under the cap.
DeCosta acknowledged that Jackson’s unresolved contract situation is a “wrench” in the team’s plans for the future, particularly when it comes to extending contracts for other players.
“It’s creating a bit of a fog as to what the future will be with your roster,” DeCosta said. “There are some things we’re not going to do now that we might try. But there’s no bigger question right now, no bigger decision [and] There is no greater challenge for this organization to move forward than this contract.”