Ravens GM still hopes to sign Jackson without franchise tag
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta said Wednesday the Ravens have not decided which type of franchise tag they would use on quarterback Lamar Jackson if the team can't sign him to a long-term contract before the start of free agency.
Jackson has played to the end of his rookie deal, and the deadline for teams to apply the franchise tag is Tuesday. Baltimore could use the non-exclusive tag, which carries a salary of $32,416,000 for next season, but then Jackson could negotiate with other teams, and if he received an offer the Ravens didn't match, they could lose him for two first-round draft picks.
The exclusive franchise tag would prevent another team from signing the star quarterback, but the cost could be a good bit higher.
“There are a couple different franchise tags,” DeCosta said at the NFL scouting combine. "We’re hopeful that we’ll get a deal done with Lamar before that happens, but sure. They’re big numbers. We’ve known they’re big numbers, we’re prepared for that, and we have four, five or six different plans based on what happens over the next 10 days.”
DeCosta said he and Jackson met recently, and the team still wants the 2019 NFL MVP in Baltimore. He also said the team prepares for every contingency.
“It’s not like we didn’t know we might be in this position,” he said. "Last year at this time, we talked about it, so we’ve had a full year to really discuss all the different plans. We’ll make the right decision.”
If negotiations between Jackson and the Ravens remain fruitless, a trade could become a realistic option. Baltimore would presumably receive quite a haul for its star quarterback, including multiple high draft picks.
DeCosta was asked if he'd be scouting quarterbacks in this year's draft class.
“I was trained as a scout; I started out as a scout. That’s kind of what my development was,” he said. “So, I scout everybody anyways. ... I’m going to look at all the top players, I’m going to do the top 150 players in every single draft class, and I’ve done that. I look at the top guys in free agency. I enjoy it, and so for me, that’s not something that changes year to year.”
Coach John Harbaugh said he hasn't thought much about going forward without Jackson. The Ravens recently hired Todd Monken of Georgia as their new offensive coordinator.
“We interviewed 14 candidates. We had 21 different interviews. They were extensive interviews on Zoom and in person, and of course, that comes up, because we’re talking about how we’re going to build an offense, and all those interviews were based on Lamar being the quarterback,” Harbaugh said. "So, that’s the direction that we’re planning for.”
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