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Ravens reiterate their desire to do a long-term deal with Lamar Jackson

Mike Florio and Chris Simms unpack the latest news surrounding Lamar Jackson’s contract and weigh in on why it could just be a matter of time before the QB says he won't play in Baltimore.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh and G.M. Eric DeCosta held a press conference on Thursday, to turn the page on the 2022 season and to embark on 2023. Both made it clear that they want quarterback Lamar Jackson to remain with the team in 2023, and beyond.

“We’re excited to start up negotiations with Lamar Jackson,” DeCosta said in his introductory remarks.

Still, it became clear from DeCosta’s answers to the various questions that it’s a “challenge” (as he put it at one point) to negotiate with Lamar, who represents himself.

DeCosta spoke to the duality of “Lamar Jackson the agent” and “Lamar Jackson the player.” DeCosta emphasized that he loves Lamar the player. DeCosta didn’t say anything about his feelings toward Lamar the agent, which possibly says plenty.

DeCosta also began his answer to the question of his confidence that a deal will be done with Lamar: “It certainly takes two to tango.”

For Harbaugh’s part, he said that he definitely wants Lamar back. “One hundred percent, you know, 200 percent,” Harbaugh said. “Lamar Jackson is our quarterback. He’s been our quarterback.”

Harbaugh also made it clear that he’s not involved in the negotiation, and that like everyone else he’ll keep his fingers crossed and say prayers and hope it gets done.

“I want him here,” Harbaugh said, “Eric DeCosta wants him here, [owner] Steve Bisciotti wants him here, and Lamar wants to be here.”

But Lamar also wants a five-year, fully-guaranteed contract. DeCosta declined to confirm that fact, and he otherwise refused to discuss any of the details about the negotiations. He expressed pride that, but for “some details” leaked by the NFL Players Association last year, the talks have remained private.

DeCosta also wouldn’t talk about whether the team will entertain trade offers, and he said that he thinks “every day” about whether to use the exclusive franchise tag or the non-exclusive franchise tag on Lamar, if it comes to that. One would be much more expensive (roughly $45 million), but it would keep Lamar on the Ravens for 2023. The other would be cheaper (roughly $32 million), but it would open the door to a potential departure.

Nothing they said changes my own belief that, if a long-term deal can’t be done, the non-exclusive tag ultimately will be applied. And then Lamar will have a chance to get from another team the five-year, fully-guaranteed contract he can’t (and, barring a major shift in mindset, won’t) get from the Ravens.