OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- All everybody wants to talk about in Baltimore is Lamar Jackson’s next contract.
How much will Jackson make? When will a deal get struck?
Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said after the draft that he’s talked about Jackson’s contract extension with reporters 100 times. In his first interview of the offseason, Jackson was asked about his contract on three of seven questions.
But Ravens wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, who is Jackson’s closest friend, said the former NFL MVP won’t stop talking about a totally different topic after their workouts.
"Just chilling, we’re talking about Super Bowl, Super Bowl, and that’s what we really want,” Brown said. "Everything that comes with it can come with it; and everything that doesn’t come with it, we don’t want it.”
When Jackson was drafted in 2018 with the last pick in the first round, he promised to deliver a Super Bowl to Baltimore. Ravens quarterbacks coach James Urban described Jackson’s fixation on the Lombardi Trophy as an “obsession” last year.
Jackson’s pursuit of the Super Bowl has spurred his biggest criticism. Among quarterbacks who’ve started at least four playoff games over the past 15 years, Jackson ranks second to last (26 out of 27) in total QBR (45.2), completion rate (55.9%) and TD-interception ratio (0.6), according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
But Jackson’s postseason struggles have overshadowed the fact that he is still ahead of the curve. If Jackson wins the Super Bowl this season at the age of 25, he would become the fourth-youngest starting quarterback to capture a ring. Only Ben Roethlisberger, Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady would have won one at a younger age.
Jackson and the Ravens were last bounced from the postseason four months ago, when Baltimore lost at Buffalo, 17-3, in the AFC divisional round. After suffering a concussion late in the third quarter, Jackson was knocked out of the game and didn’t return.
“It’s always difficult to get to the playoffs, get to one game before the big dance -- well, one of the big dances -- and go out how we went out,” Jackson said in his first comments since that loss. "We wouldn’t like that, but that’s why it’s next season. [We have] the offseason to prepare to get back in that same spot and excel, and that’s pretty much what we’ve been focusing on now. [You] can’t dwell on the past -- like I always say. We’ve just got to move forward.”
Jackson put in the work before the Ravens’ organized training activities began this week. Last month, an Instagram video showed him and Brown working out in Florida. A few weeks later, Jackson was throwing passes to Brown, tight end Mark Andrews, wide receiver Sammy Watkins and running back J.K. Dobbins near Andrews’ home in Arizona.
In the first OTA practice open to the media, Jackson looked like his usual self, escaping the pocket to make a throw over the middle and later outracing everyone to the end zone on a run.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the focus for Jackson in these spring workouts -- which didn’t occur last year because of the pandemic -- is to improve the fundamentals of his game. This includes taking snaps, footwork on ball-handling and dropback passing, as well as the mechanics of throwing the ball.
For Jackson, he wants to step up in another area.
"I’m going to try to be more of a vocal leader,” Jackson said. "I always say that, but I’ve got to start presenting it how I should, [how] the guys are wanting me to sometimes.”
Considering what he talks about with Brown, teammates should expect a lot of Super Bowl conversations from their new vocal leader.