After hitting an impasse in contract talks this off-season, the star quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens reached an agreement in principle on a five-year contract extension on Thursday, Jackson announced in a video posted on the team’s Twitter account.
“For the last few months, there’s been a lot of ‘he said, she said,’ a lot of nail biting, a lot of head scratching going on,” Jackson, 26, said before declaring that he would “light up” the Ravens’ home stadium for the next five years.
The deal is worth $260 million, according to a person with knowledge of the terms of the agreement who requested anonymity because the team had not announced the financial details.
Jackson won the league’s Most Valuable Player Award in 2019 and entered the 2022 N.F.L. season with one year remaining on his rookie contract. Uncertainty had hung over Jackson’s future in Baltimore as he and the team were unable to agree on terms for an extension, and contract talks were paused until the off-season. In March, still unable to agree to terms with Jackson, the team gave him the nonexclusive franchise tag, which is worth about $32 million annually and allowed him to negotiate with other teams.
Jackson said on Twitter last month that he requested a trade in early March because the Ravens had “not been interested in meeting my value.”
Other quarterbacks around the league signed new deals or found new teams via trade, including Jalen Hurts, who agreed to a contract extension with the Philadelphia Eagles last week, and Aaron Rodgers, who moved from Green Bay to the Jets earlier this week. Jackson’s situation with the Ravens seemed to be locked in a stalemate — until the team’s announcement Thursday, hours before the start of the N.F.L. draft. Jackson’s average yearly earnings are now the highest in the league, edging out those of Hurts, whose five-year deal is worth $255 million, according to multiple reports.
The Ravens selected Jackson with the final pick of the first round in the 2018 N.F.L. draft. He took over as the team’s starting quarterback midway through his rookie season, after an injury to Joe Flacco. He led the Ravens to the playoffs in four of the past five seasons, though he sat out the team’s wild-card game in January after suffering a late-season knee injury.
Jackson has reimagined how the quarterback position is played at the sport’s highest level, challenging opponents with both his arm and his legs with more success than has ever been seen. He is the first quarterback to rush for more than 1,000 yards in multiple seasons, in 2019 and 2020. Last season, Jackson surpassed both 4,000 career rushing yards and 100 passing touchdowns, doing so faster than any player in league history.
Like many of the dual-threat quarterbacks who came before him, particularly Black quarterbacks, when Jackson turned pro he faced questions from N.F.L. teams about his staying power and fended off suggestions that he might be better suited to a different position. A lasting image from the 2018 draft is Jackson and his mother sitting in the green room until late into the night, waiting for his name to be called.
The Ravens, though, have embraced rather than stifled Jackson’s unique abilities, building an offense around him that looked different from any other in the league. In 2019, Jackson’s M.V.P. year, the Ravens broke a 41-year-old record for the most rushing yards in a season, and from 2018-21 they tied a league record by rushing for at least 100 yards in 43 straight games.
By staying in Baltimore, Jackson will continue to duel with the cadre of talented young quarterbacks in the A.F.C. that includes the two-time Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City; Joe Burrow of Cincinnati; Josh Allen of Buffalo; Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers; and Trevor Lawrence of Jacksonville. He will have at least one new offensive playmaker to throw to, the receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who signed with the Ravens earlier this month after sitting out the 2022 season while recovering from the torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered while helping the Los Angeles Rams win Super Bowl LVI.
Even when negotiations between Jackson and the Ravens were stalled, Coach John Harbaugh said that the two sides appreciated one another, and that he expected Jackson to be his starter this season. “Numbers can be figured out,” Harbaugh said last month.
The Ravens figured out what numbers they needed to offer to keep Jackson, and now they’ll have another five years with him.