After saying he expects to stay in Baltimore for the rest of his career, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson will not commit to attending training camp on Thursday nor play in Week 1 without a contract extension.
“It’s part of the conversation,” Jackson said repeatedly in his first news conference in more than five months after Thursday’s practice in response to multiple questions about his contract.
Jackson, who has no agent, said his absence from the team’s voluntary off-season training activities was not contract related. He reported on Monday and participated in the mandatory minicamp of all three days.
“I just wanted to stay away and just grind,” he said. “I just wanted to come back and just see how it felt. I feel good.”
The 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player said he held talks with team officials at Owings Mills this week concerning an extension that could make him one of the highest-paid players in the NFL. The 24-year-old quarterback is entering the final year of his rookie deal, which will pay him $23 million this season as part of a fifth-year option taken by the Ravens last year.
However, Jackson said on Thursday that he hopes to play in Baltimore for the rest of his career.
“It’s a conversation. That’s it,” Jackson said when asked about having contract talks ahead of the season. “We’re just keeping it private.”
Skipping training camp practices comes with harsh penalties under the league’s collective bargaining agreement. Teams are required to fine players who are not on rookie contracts — including Jackson, who is on option in his fifth year — up to $50,000 per day for absenteeism.
In February, general manager Eric DeCosta said the team was moving at “Lamar’s pace” in contract negotiations. Ravens executives have said they are committed to signing Jackson to a long-term extension, but if a deal doesn’t work out, the team is expected to put up the franchise tag next year.
In late May, Jackson responded to an NFL analyst who questioned why Jackson would miss the team’s first week of voluntary practices, saying that the other quarterbacks weren’t participating “but since this is Lamar, it’s a It’s a big deal.” On Thursday, Jackson said he asked his teammates if it was OK to work away from OTAs.
Jackson also pushed back team owner Steve Bisciotti’s suggestion that he didn’t think he deserved a contract until winning a Super Bowl, saying he thought he was ready.
“I still want my Super Bowl, but I think I deserve it,” he said. “Yes sir. I do.”
This story may be updated.