MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

Mark Twain said, “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”

That’s pretty much the take of just about everybody when it comes to what Baltimore Ravens free-agent quarterback Lamar Jackson wants to make on his next contract, what the Ravens want to pay him on his next contract, and at the very bottom of the list of importance, what fans believe he should be paid on his next contract.

That is, of course, other than the people who matter the most – Lamar Jackson, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Eric DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh, as Harbaugh and DeCosta addressed the situation last Thursday during their joint end-of-season media conference.

“One hundred percent, 200 percent. There’s no question about it,” Harbaugh said. “Lamar Jackson is our quarterback. He’s been our quarterback. Everything that we’ve done in terms of building our offense and building our team, how we think in terms of putting people around him is based on this incredible young man, his talent, his ability and his competitiveness.

“I love Lamar, Eric loves Lamar, and it’s not going to change in the future … I have faith it’s going to get done, and we’ve got the best people in the world doing it. Eric wants him here, I want him here, Steve wants him here, and Lamar wants to be here. It’s going to work out.”

For his part, DeCosta has repeatedly said the two parties are going to operate at Jackson’s pace and willingness to negotiate, as Jackson represents himself in negotiations. The two, according to the GM, are in constant communication and have a “great relationship.”

It has been speculated that Jackson has not been happy with the team’s offensive scheme the past couple of seasons, and if that’s true, he would not have been alone; but the Ravens seemingly took the first step in fixing that by parting ways with offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who had been feeling the wrath of Ravens fans for the past two years. And if you saw the Ravens’ playoff loss last week to Cincinnati, you understand why.

Harbaugh said on Thursday Jackson would have input on the process of hiring a new offensive coordinator, so there’s that. Yet while the offense has understandably been built around the quarterback’s ability to run the football, there still needs to be a more advanced passing scheme in the attack, because, despite what his critics say, Jackson can pass the football.

Roman’s scheme, though, made it difficult for anybody to pass the ball, as far too often there have been two to three Ravens receivers in the same small area of the field on pass plays, making it possible for even one defender to eliminate success.

It would also be nice if the organization would find more than one outside receiver who can catch, as Jackson has been the victim the past three years of most dropped passes in the league, which you can look up.

Jackson’s running ability has also earned him an unfair reputation for being injury prone, as he has missed a combined 10 games to end the last two seasons, the theory being he is susceptible to more hits running the ball. The truth is, both season-ending injuries – the ankle injury in 2021 and the knee injury this season – were incurred while he attempted to avoid pressure on pass plays.

This, of course, makes sense, even though it is overlooked for the sake of argument (why let facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory?), because the Ravens’ offensive line is better equipped to run-block and is one of the poorest pass-blocking lines in the league.

That, too, would be nice for this shortcoming to be addressed and upgraded.

As for the other conspiracy theory – known as The Flacco – Ravens fans are convinced the team does not have enough salary cap room to sign Jackson to the deal he has earned. Yet DeCosta explained the organization does, in fact, have the room because it has been planning for this eventuality for the past three years.

Flacco, on the other hand, according to DeCosta, could not be franchised when it was his turn for the big payday, because there was not enough salary cap space for what he had earned. Remember that pesky little thing called the Super Bowl championship that Flacco was the MVP of?

There are multiple factors involved here with Lamar, the one that matters most being guaranteed money. The Ravens have offered Jackson a pile of money, but their guaranteed offer did not suit Jackson’s demand.

As 31 owners and general managers in the league will tell you, leave it to the stupid Cleveland Browns to put the screws to every team in the league with its enormously stupid fully-guaranteed contract for quarterback Deshaun Watson. And, as fate would have it, the Ravens, the team that left Cleveland, is the first team of the lot to be feeling that screw.

So save your predictions and what should and shouldn’t happens, because you have no idea what’s going to happen here. None of us do, including Steve Bisciotti, Eric DeCosta, John Harbaugh and one Lamar Jackson.

To be continued …

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT