MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

So approximately one minute before Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was about to hold his media session at the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix on Monday morning, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is a free agent, but not really (MLB players have a better union) because he is bound to Baltimore contractually because of the nonexclusive $32 million the Ravens are ready to pay him if it is not exceeded by another team, texted to the world the trade demand he made privately nearly four weeks ago.

Just call it a coincidence, right? Would Lamar do this intentionally at that hour of the morning (7:48 a.m., Mountain) when Harbaugh had to adjust the Ravens’ training camp practice schedule because Lamar is a late sleeper, or is it just one of those wacky coincidences that sometimes happen during nasty contract negotiations?

You decide.

Either way, the tweet by the quarterback put the head coach on the spot, as he walked into the press briefing, televised nationally by the NFL, very cold to this new/old information.

When asked if he believed the timing of the tweet was orchestrated, Harbs dutifully replied that he doesn’t know if Lamar follows such things (as early-morning times? in this case, he does), so he doesn’t know if he did it on purpose.

When asked if he is still building the Ravens’ offense around Lamar, Harbaugh, ever the “Who Has It Better Than We Do?” Boy Scout, replied, “Of course. You prepare for all contingencies, but you build a great offense for your players. That’s what you do, and Lamar’s under contract, and of course that’s the guy I want to see be our QB. That’s my guy.

“We made a decision to go with Lamar Jackson five years ago. Why? Because we love him. We love him. We love the way he plays. We love his mindset. His charisma. His style. The way he is in the locker room. Everything about him — we love him.”

Love, exciting and newCome aboard, we’re expecting you
Love, life’s sweetest reward
Let it flow, it floats back to you

Oh, it’s floating, Jerry,

Clearly, Lamar Jackson sent that tweet to put the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens as well as the franchise squarely on the spot; I have not one doubt about that, and I’m certain not one person associated with the franchise thinks otherwise, including Harbaugh, who has publicly put his neck on the line for Lamar Jackson from the very beginning.

As for this entire contract squabble, many fans wonder, “How much money does anybody need?” Well, until it’s your money that’s involved, not much “to play a kid’s game,” which is just jealous thinking of never-were morons.

Everybody should get what they can get; it’s there, and I’d rather players have it, because you tune in every Sunday to see the players play, not the owners own. But, see, there’s this thing called the salary cap, so it’s not really that idealistic or simple.

Personally, while I never wanted to see Joe Flacco go, as I seem to be the only one left in the state of Maryland who remembers a Super Bowl MVP performance, I hope Lamar Jackson gets as much dough as he can get; and I hope he stays in Baltimore. But it should be clear by now that the Ravens are not going to guarantee the entire contract the way the nitwit in Cleveland did with Deshaun Jackson’s $230 million. Nor should they; nor will any other team other than possibly the Indianapolis Colts, which is why I believe Lamar sent the tweet to begin with.

That said, the Ravens offered Lamar more than double what Patrick Mahomes received in guaranteed money at signing. Plus, the Ravens offered nearly $70 million more in total guaranteed money.

But, as they say, all’s fair in money and in war (love is the same thing as both in case you forgot), so both sides have to do what they have to do.

As a fan of #NFLTheTVShow, I hope Lamar Jackson stays in Baltimore, but at this stage it appears if he does, it will be for a short time, whether he signs any kind of new deal or not.

As for the Ravens, I’m a Baltimore guy; I love that my favorite city in the world has a professional football team. I want the Ravens to do the right thing for the franchise and for Lamar. But at this point, if Indianapolis wants to nibble, I would take two first-round draft picks, including the No. 3 in this year’s draft so they can take that quarterback from Kentucky.

What would Sonny Weaver Jr. do?

And that’s just it: I hope it works out for both sides, but it’s a TV show — an entertaining TV show that I watch and enjoy every fall Sunday afternoon.

So as Scarlett O’Hara once said, “I can’t think about that right now.” And guess what? I won’t think about that tomorrow either. I stopped doing that once they wrote Henry Blake out of M*A*S*H because of a contract dispute.

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