Jamison HensleyESPN staff writer6 minutes of reading
Phoenix — Lamar Jackson unleashed his latest surprise in his ongoing contract saga with the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, announcing that coach John Harbaugh had requested a trade from the team just as he sat down to speak to reporters at the NFL’s annual league meeting.
Jackson, representing himself, He tweeted on March 2nd requesting a trade The team is “not interested in meeting my value” in contract talks.
“… I love the game of football and my dream is to help a team win the Super Bowl.” he tweetedRavens fans were “great, but I had to make a business decision that was best for my family and me. No matter how far I go or where my career takes me, I will continue to be close to the fans of Baltimore. Herd Nation and the entire state of Maryland. You’ll see me again.”
Harbaugh was immediately asked about Jackson’s tweet while sitting at the AFC coaches’ breakfast.
“I haven’t seen the tweet. It’s an ongoing process,” Harbaugh said. “I’m following it very closely, as is everyone here. I’m looking forward to a resolution.”
With reporters crowded shoulder-to-shoulder around his desk, Harbaugh remained upbeat about Jackson. He cracked occasional jokes while answering 32 questions during his 27-minute media session.
Harbaugh said he’s still building the offense around Jackson and doesn’t see a damaged relationship with the 2019 NFL MVP. But Harbaugh acknowledged there is uncertainty surrounding Jackson’s situation.
“I don’t know which direction it’s going to go,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t have a crystal ball. I can’t tell the future. But whatever happens, I know it’s going to be good. It’s going to be okay. I have hope. I love Lamar Jackson.”
The Ravens placed the non-exclusive rights tag on Jackson on March 7 — five days after Jackson said he made his trade request — which allowed him to negotiate with other teams. If Jackson signs an offer sheet, Baltimore will have five days to match it or receive two first-round picks as compensation. Absent an offer sheet, Jackson would make $32.416 million this season if he plays under the tag.
Asked if he was sure Jackson would play this season, Harbaugh said, “I don’t know,” and said he hasn’t talked to Jackson about it.
Harbaugh said “it’s been a while” since he last spoke with Jackson. His last conversation with Jackson was via text message about the offense and coaching staff.
But Harbaugh still believes Jackson will be his quarterback in Week 1.
“You have to plan for all contingencies, of course,” Harbaugh said. “I’m really excited about Lamar Jackson. Lamar Jackson is a great player. Lamar came back in great shape last year. He’s fired up to play. That’s the Lamar I’m looking forward to seeing.”
Ravens president Shashi Brown echoed a similar sentiment late Monday.
“We love Lamar. We want Lamar back,” he said.
“We saw the tweet today. We have been in good touch with him. These are difficult circumstances … but we are determined to try to do something.”
Last September, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen that Jackson turned down an offer from Baltimore that included $133 million guaranteed at signing, $175 million guaranteed for injury and $200 million total guaranteed if he was on the roster on day five. 2026 is the year of the league.
The $200 million would rank second among all quarterbacks for Deshaun Watson (five years, $230 million guaranteed) and surpass the contracts signed last year by Kyler Murray ($103.3 million guaranteed at signing) and Russell Wilson ($124 million guaranteed at signing). Schefter and Mortenson said in September that Jackson wanted a fully guaranteed contract similar to Watson’s.
Jackson hasn’t talked about his contract since the first week of last season, and he hasn’t spoken to reporters since Dec. 2.
Asked if he considered the timing of Jackson’s tweet Monday to be pressure, Harbaugh replied, “I really don’t know. It’s part of the business of football.”
Jackson’s athleticism has made the Ravens one of the most successful teams over the past five seasons. His record of 45-16 (.738) is the fourth-best of any quarterback debuting in the Super Bowl era, behind Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady and Roger Staubach. Jackson was named the NFL’s MVP after the 2019 season. The Ravens have struggled without Jackson the past two seasons, going 3-9 (.308) in his absence.
But Jackson’s past and staying power have come under scrutiny. Over the past two seasons, Jackson has totaled 33 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions and missed 11 games, including last season’s playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Ravens hired Todd Monken as their new offensive coordinator this offseason, and Harbaugh has repeatedly said he’s building a new offense around Jackson.
“That’s who I want to see as our quarterback. That’s my guy,” Harbaugh said. “We decided to go with Lamar Jackson five years ago. Why? We love him. We love the way he plays, his attitude, his charisma, his style — we love everything about him.”
Jackson’s tweet was another unexpected twist in his 25-month-long negotiations with the Ravens.
Last week, the NFL warned teams in a memo that they were only allowed to negotiate with Jackson because he did not have an NFLPA-certified agent. NFL teams can be fined $47,000 if a club negotiates a contract with an agent or representative not vetted by the NFLPA.
Asked when Jackson’s situation should be resolved, Harbaugh joked, “Yesterday,” before adding, “I appreciate that it was handled with class. Lamar handled it with class.”
Harbaugh insisted that the drama was all about the business of professional sports.
“It’s going to work itself out,” Harbaugh said. “If we’re playing football next year and Lamar Jackson is our quarterback, we’re all going to be happy. He’s going to be fired up to play. He’s going to be happy to be out there playing. It’s a fluid kind of thing. There’s no time frame.”
Jackson’s trade request was addressed at the league meeting on Monday. Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard said his team will consider Jackson, who he called “a special player.”
However, Washington Commanders GM Martin Mayhew said his team is moving forward with Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett, and New York Jets GM Joe Douglas said his focus is on getting Aaron Rodgers and won’t move Jackson to pressure the Packers. “If we go down that path it would be dishonest and negotiating in bad faith.”
Robert Kraft, meanwhile, said rapper Meek Mill, a good friend of the Patriots owner, recently texted him that Jackson wanted to play for New England. Kraft said he responded that it would be coach Bill Belichick’s decision.