1 of 5 | Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) could become an unrestricted free agent this off-season if he doesn't agree to a long-term contract. File Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo
INDIANAPOLIS, March 1 (UPI) -- The Baltimore Ravens hope to agree to a contract extension with Lamar Jackson before the NFL's March 7 franchise tag deadline, general manager Eric DeCosta told reporters Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine.
"Lamar and I are talking," DeCosta said at a news conference at the Indianapolis Convention Center. "We met recently. It's an ongoing discussion. We both understand the urgency of the situation.
"It has been a good dialogue and a good discussion. I continue to be optimistic and we will see where it goes."
DeCosta characterized his negotiations with Jackson, who does not have an agent, as "tough."
Jackson, 26, signed a four-year, $9.47 million rookie pact as the No. 32 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He played last season on a $23 million option.
"You can't win in this league without a strong quarterback," DeCosta said. "That's been proven. We want Lamar here. We think he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He is certainly one of our best players. We want him back.
"Living in a world without a quarterback is a bad world to live in."
Jackson is to become an unrestricted free agent in mid-March if he doesn't agree to a long-term deal or the Ravens don't use a franchise tag to retain the quarterback.
Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson were among the quarterbacks who signed contract extensions last off-season. Jackson denied reports last off-season that the Ravens offered him a fully guaranteed, $250 million contract.
Watson signed a fully guaranteed, five-year, $230 million contract last off-season with the Cleveland Browns.
Rodgers agreed to a four-year, $200 million extension last season with the Green Bay Packers. That included $153 million in guarantees.
Wilson agreed to a five-year, $245 million contract last year with the Denver Broncos. That features $165 million in guarantees.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray also agreed to a five-year, $230.5 million deal, including $160 million guaranteed, last off-season.
DeCosta would not discuss the terms offered in his negotiations with Jackson, but he is expected to receive a deal in the neighborhood of $250 million. Spotrac.com plots the market value for a potential Jackson contract at six years and $244.5 million.
"There are a couple of situations that can [happen]," DeCosta said. "There are a couple franchise tags we can use. We are hopeful we will get a deal done with Lamar before that happens, but they are big [salary] numbers.
"We are prepared for that. We have four, five, six different plans, based on what happens over the next 10 days."
Jackson threw for 2,242 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 12 starts last season. He also ran for 764 yards and three scores. The 2019 MVP and two-time Pro Bowl selection missed the Ravens' final four regular-season games and a wild-card game with a knee injury.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he remains in contact with Jackson via text message. He said he believes Jackson has done a "great job of developing as a quarterback."
"He is my quarterback," Harbaugh said. "He is my guy. I love him. As a coach, I'm looking forward to seeing it get done, but it's not easy. The business part of it is never easy.
"I'm fervently hopeful and can't wait for it to get done."