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Lamar Jackson announces he has requested a trade from the Ravens

Lamar Jackson announced on Twitter on Monday that he has requested a trade from the Ravens. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
5 min

PHOENIX — Lamar Jackson, the quarterback and former NFL MVP who has been unable to agree to a long-term contract with the Baltimore Ravens, announced Monday that he had requested a trade March 2, less than a week before the team placed its nonexclusive franchise tag on him.

“I want to first thank you all for all of the love and support you consistently show towards me,” Jackson wrote on Twitter in what he called a letter to his fans. “All of you are amazing and I appreciate y’all so much. I want you all to know not to believe everything you read about me. Let me personally answer your questions in regards to my future plans. As of March 2nd I requested a trade from the Ravens organization for which the Ravens [have] not been interested in meeting my value.”

Jackson’s tweet published just as Ravens Coach John Harbaugh sat down with reporters at the AFC coaches’ breakfast during the annual league meeting in Phoenix. Harbaugh said he had not seen Jackson’s message but anticipates him being Baltimore’s quarterback when the season begins.

“You got to plan for all the contingencies, for sure, but I’m pretty fired up about Lamar Jackson,” Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh predicted Jackson’s status with the team is “going to work itself out” but said it is “a fluid kind of thing.”

“I’m following it very closely, just like everybody else is here, and looking forward to a resolution,” he added. “I’m excited. [I’m] thinking about Lamar all the time, thinking about him as our quarterback. We’re building our offense around that idea.”

Harbaugh said the situation has limited his interactions with Jackson while General Manager Eric DeCosta handles the negotiations.

“You’re not talking every second of the day,” Harbaugh said of DeCosta’s communication with Jackson. “But as far as I know, it’s been consistent.

Brewer: Signing Lamar Jackson should not be this difficult

“Lamar’s under contract, and of course that’s the guy I want to see be our quarterback,” he added. “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 mind-set, his charisma, his style, the way he is in the locker room. Everything about him, we love him. I love him personally. I love being the coach of the team that he’s playing quarterback for.”

The nonexclusive franchise tag, worth $32.4 million, limits Jackson’s mobility in free agency but still affords him the ability to negotiate with other teams and sign an offer sheet elsewhere. Should he do so, the Ravens could match that offer sheet and keep him, or they could decline and receive two first-round draft selections from Jackson’s new team as compensation.

The sides have until July 15 to work out a longer-term deal. If Jackson plays on the tag, he and the Ravens cannot resume negotiations on a new contract until the conclusion of the 2023 season.

Alternately, the Ravens could work out a trade to send Jackson to a different team. Harbaugh declined to say whether he had known about Jackson’s trade request, saying, “Those conversations happen,” and, “It’s a private thing.”

As the process drags on, the Ravens’ future at football’s most significant position remains uncertain.

Lamar Jackson’s absence looms over the Ravens

Jackson played last season on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract after failing to strike a deal with the Ravens on an extension before the opener. He does not have an agent and reportedly has been seeking a deal comparable to the fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract quarterback Deshaun Watson signed last year with the Cleveland Browns.

The NFL’s management council warned teams in a memo last week not to negotiate an offer sheet with a noncertified agent, Ken Francis, who supposedly had contacted teams about Jackson.

“As an uncertified person, Mr. Francis is prohibited from negotiating Offer Sheets or Player Contracts, or discussing potential trades on behalf of any NFL player or prospective player or assisting in or advising with respect to such negotiations,” the memo said.

Jackson denied Francis was negotiating with teams on his behalf and called Francis his business partner. The NFL Players Association is in charge of certifying agents to negotiate contracts for players.

As Jackson’s standoff with the Ravens plays out publicly, his market elsewhere appears to be limited. The Indianapolis Colts have been mentioned as possibly interested in signing Jackson to an offer sheet, and Coach Shane Steichen said Monday the team is doing its due diligence. But after multiple teams in need of starting quarterbacks initially were reported not to be interested in attempting to sign Jackson, DeMaurice Smith, the NFLPA’s executive director, raised the possibility they might be acting improperly, in violation of the collective bargaining agreement.

In an essay on the union’s website, Smith wrote that team owners “have colluded in the past to both depress and restrict markets” and said, “This time, they are criminally gaming the game itself.”

The Washington Commanders were speculated to be a team that might show interest, but General Manager Martin Mayhew said Jackson was never a real consideration.

“There’s literally hundreds of guys that are free, and we probably end up making serious contract offers and having serious discussions with somewhere between 10 to 20 of those guys each year,” Mayhew said. “So there are a ton of talented players that could help us, but we don’t end up talking to [them] for various reasons. And Lamar falls into that category.”

The Commanders signed Jacoby Brissett in free agency and have said second-year quarterback Sam Howell will get a chance to earn the starting job.