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The business side of the NFL manages to show its ugly head from time to time whenever contracts are about to expire. Even in the case for someone who clearly loves the game like Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.
After stepping in as a rookie and guiding the Ravens to a playoff appearance, winning an MVP and re- establishing the Ravens as one of the best teams in the AFC, Jackson’s in line for a new contract.
However, the All-Pro quarterback has a bigger, more team oriented goal in mind as opposed to worrying about his contract.
“I’m not really focused on that right now. I’m focused on getting a Super Bowl. I’m focused on getting better. I’m focused on working with my teammates right now,” Jackson said after minicamp last month. “I’m focused on winning right now. I’m trying to bring a Super Bowl here.
“MVPs and stuff like that, having winning records and stuff, that’s cool, but I want to bring a Lombardi [Trophy] here myself.”
The Ravens’ season ended with a loss to the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional round of the playoffs. Jackson was knocked out of the game due to a concussion. This was the second year in a row that the team was bounced from the playoffs in the second round.
Jackson has led the team to the playoffs in each of his seasons but he wants to take the next step with the Ravens.
“Man, because we fell short three years in a row since I’ve been here,” Jackson said when asked what drives him to always think about the Super Bowl. “And, I’m always seeing teams, when they get there— it’s hard work, preparation, stuff like that.”
“We’re watching highlights and stuff like that on TV. And it’s like, when they win it, it’s like your whole life just changed. It’s not even a change; it’s like the excitement I see. The feeling— like holding the [Lombardi] Trophy up and stuff like that.”
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ 10-year, $450 million contract is currently the biggest deal in the league. Like Mahomes, Jackson has an NFL MVP to his name. However, unlike Mahomes, Jackson hasn’t led his team to the Super Bowl but he is clearly among the best quarterbacks in the league.
The Ravens know what they have in Jackson both mentally and physically. Head Coach John Harbaugh has no doubt that Jackson will not be impacted by the contract talk this season.
“Lamar [Jackson] is confident, and Lamar understands what’s important. I mean, Lamar is going to get … Look what he’s done; he’s going to get paid.
He knows that. The question becomes, what’s he going to do,” Harbaugh said. “And that’s the great thing about Lamar and why you have so much confidence in him— is that’s what he focuses on. You focus on that— all the other things tend to fall [in place]. Be great at what you do, [and] someone is probably going to want to hire you to do it.”