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The Lamar Jackson mystery continues to grow

Mike Florio and Chris Simms try to make sense of Lamar Jackson's uncharacteristic decision to skip Ravens OTAs for the first time in his career.

The Ravens have a unique and largely unprecedented problem. And they have no idea how to solve it.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson’s long-term status with the team remains a mystery. He won’t engage the team on a contract, even though the team is ready to give him a major new deal. He insists that he doesn’t want to leave, but he’s not acting like he wants to stay.

Four weeks ago, he complained on social media about the team’s decision to trade receiver Hollywood Brown, even though Jackson knew Brown wanted out.

Now, Jackson is skipping OTAs. The Ravens are downplaying it, because they have no choice. They’ll downplay everything Jackson does or doesn’t do -- until they become sufficiently exasperated with Jackson to move on from him.

Here’s the simple reality. Even though the offseason program is mandatory, OTAs are football practices that allow teams to install much of their offensive and defensive playbooks for the coming season. There’s value in having key players there, especially the quarterback.

Indeed, if the team’s assessment of Jackson’s contract posture is accurate, it’s all the more reason for Jackson to attend.

“The kid is so obsessed with winning a Super Bowl, that I think deep down, he doesn’t think he’s worthy,” owner Steve Bisciotti said in March. “I think he wants that to say, ‘Now, I deserve to be on top.’”

Fine. But to get to the top, he needs to climb. The climb happens now, during OTAs. If Jackson hopes to have a special season, the foundation for special is being laid now.

From 2018 through 2021, Jackson attended the OTAs. So why skip them now?

It’s all part of a mystery that the Ravens don’t want or need. And it underscores the existence of very real questions about whether any given year will be his last year with the team.