OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Los Angeles cornerback ravensMarlon Humphrey, saw Lamar Jackson enter an IHOP in the area of baltimore and he knew the Pro Bowl quarterback wouldn’t last long there.
Before Jackson could even think about ordering pancakes, he was being escorted away after being harassed by fans.
“He thinks he’s a very normal guy, but I’m like, ‘Lamar, you’re Lamar Jackson‘”, he pointed Humphrey. “You are not me; you can’t just do normal things.”
And these are not normal times for Jackson, whose contract situation is one of the biggest stories in the NFL. The ravens they’re negotiating an extension with the former MVP, who isn’t represented by an agent, and if it’s not done in March, Jackson will likely have to play in 2023 under the franchise tag with an uncertain future in Baltimore.
When Lamar Jackson turns on the television, listens to comments about his contract. When you clicked Twitter while on vacation, he read criticism of his game from a former Ravens player.
“I guess this is what comes with it,” Jackson mused recently. “When you’re trying to be cool, when you’re trying to work hard, there’s going to be negativity.”
Teammates believe Lamar Jackson is motivated by criticism. The Ravens’ quarterbacks coach, James UrbanHe said that Jackson is adept at ignoring outside conversations.
But jackson it has not ignored all criticism.
In May, the former quarterback of the NFL, Chris Simssaid “[Tom] Brady wouldn’t miss OTAs in the fourth year of his career,” after Lamar Jackson skipped voluntary offseason workouts. Jackson responded on Twitter: “Lamar wants to be Lamar. This part of the OTAs is voluntary.”
Last month, after Jackson was dropped from the top 10 quarterback rankings, former Ravens safety Bernard Pollard wrote on Twitter: “Definitely a Top 10 talent, but as far as a quarterback field of the Top 10, I don’t see it. Jackson then had a lengthy exchange with Pollard, telling him, “Never heard of you. [para ser honesto]. You got your Super Bowl for Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.”
Jackson sees the exchanges as benign.
“They want conversation; I just give them a little chat here and there,” Jackson defended. “But it really is nothing. It’s not serious. I’m not angry or anything like that. I’m just committing myself.”
Despite the contract status and comments, Lamar Jackson he seems to be more focused on football than ever. He bulked up on him during the offseason, adding more than 10 pounds of lean muscle. Jackson said that he weighs 230 pounds. Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman stressed that Jackson is throwing the ball better than ever. In a week and a half in camp, Jackson has completed about 70% of his passes.
Ravens coach, John Harbaughsaid that he has never been concerned that Lamar Jackson be distracted by criticism, because he’s been treated in high school, college and the draft process like a dual-threat quarterback. Jackson’s most popular criticism is about his ability to shoot the ball.
An anonymous defensive coordinator told The Athletic last month that he wouldn’t consider Jackson a Tier 1 quarterback, even if he wins league MVP 12 times. “If he has to pass to win the game, they won’t win the game,” the coordinator emphasized.
jackson he has faltered with his accuracy at times, throwing a career-low 13 interceptions last year. But last season was the best in winning late games with his arm.
In 2021, Jackson led double-digit fourth-quarter comebacks against the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts. His Total QBR when he trailed in the fourth quarter last season (81) ranked fourth in the NFL.
“I don’t know who this guy called ‘Anonymous’ is. I haven’t met him yet,” Harbaugh said. “So I don’t even know why we report what he has to say. But it is what it is. It’s just bullshit; it’s just nothing.”
The outside linebacker baltimoreJustin Houston, believes that the criticism of Jackson is almost on the same level as that of the superstar of the NBA, LeBron James.
“I love the way he’s handling it. It’s just motivation. So, I pray that everyone keeps talking about him, because he is fire, “Houston encouraged.
A couple of months after being criticized for skipping voluntary workouts, Jackson heard league observers say he shouldn’t practice in training camp until he lands a long-term contract.
But Jackson said he’s not taking the “wait and see” approach — reporting to camp but not participating in practice like other players in the NFL with contract problems) because he wants to win and doesn’t want to leave his teammates hanging.
“Lamar is not worried about the contract, nobody should be worried about the contract,” Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman said. “That does not depend on us; we’re going to let whoever runs that run it. We’re just going to play football. That’s what we’re called to do here, and that’s what we’re going to focus on.”
Teammates say Jackson doesn’t talk about negotiations. When Humphrey mentioned a long-term deal, Jackson told him, “It’ll be done when it’s done.”
“For a guy who is negotiating, he hasn’t said a word and his value keeps going up. It’s unbelievable,” said the guard of the ravens, Kevin Zeitle, “and I think he likes it that way. The way he plays, the way he prepares, the person he is, and I think in the long run he will continue to win.”
When asked how Lamar Jackson will handle all the noise of the season, coaches and teammates point to 2019. After hearing all the questions before the season about whether he could throw the ball, Jackson threw five touchdown passes in the first game of the season and then delivered the line: “Not bad for a running back.” Jackson became the second unanimous MVP selection of the NFL in the history.
“I know he’s motivated by criticism,” Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell said. “… At the end of the day, he’s a phenomenal quarterback. Let the haters do the talking. We’ll let them screech, we only win football games.”
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How Lamar Jackson deals with increased scrutiny over Ravens contract talks