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Lamar Jackson should be at every Ravens OTA practice

Mike Florio and Chris Simms evaluate how quickly the Ravens can turn the page on a new offense in order to make a run at the Chiefs, as well as which other AFC teams could look brand new next season.

When the Ravens signed quarterback Josh Johnson on the first day of OTAs, my first thought was, “They must not expect to see much of Lamar Jackson.”

On Monday, they didn’t see him at all.

I know it’s voluntary. But Lamar doesn’t get a pass. Aaron Rodgers didn’t get one last year, and Lamar doesn’t get one this year.

It’s unclear where the line is that separates “it’s OK to skip” from “you should be there.” A compensation package in excess of $50 million per year lands on the “be there” side of the ledger.

Jackson recently scored a new deal that pays him $52 million per year. Even if none of the money is tied to participation in the offseason program, the total investment suggests he should be there. The fact that the Ravens are implementing a new offense with new receivers and a new commitment to passing the ball should make him want to be there.

We saw the difference last year, with the Packers and the Chiefs. Green Bay was adjusting to a post-Davante Adams offense. Rodgers couldn’t be bothered (despite making $50 million per year) to be there in order to help the new receivers get comfortable. Kansas City was adjusting to a post-Tyreek Hill offense. Patrick Mahomes was there. With bells on. He worked out with receivers on his own. He gave notes to the Chiefs regarding the things he learned during these private throwing sessions.

The Ravens are in a conference loaded with great teams. Mahomes will be there for OTAs. Josh Allen will be in Buffalo for OTAs. Joe Burrow will be in Cincinnati for OTAs.

Lamar should be there, too.

Yes, it’s voluntary. It’s an option. The pursuit of greatness is an option, too. For those truly committed to it, there’s no reason not to be present for practice sessions involving new pieces of a new offense -- especially when the Ravens eventually will be competing with teams whose quarterbacks were present for everything in the offseason, and then some.