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Ravens' Lamar Jackson ready to move on after signing historic contract, eager to work with upgraded WR corps

Baltimore Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson agreed to a five-year, $260 million contract last Thursday, making him the highest-paid player in NFL history.

More than two years in the making, negotiations between Jackson, who represents himself, and Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta took a bumpy course. Jackson made his March trade request public, and Baltimore used the non-exclusive franchise tag on the quarterback.

In the end, it all ended up as dust in the rearview mirror. 

"They say the best things come to those who wait. We waited for a while, and here we are," DeCosta said at Thursday's press conference announcing the signing.

The non-exclusive mechanism allowed Jackson to negotiate with other clubs. The 2019 NFL MVP said Thursday that other teams called him, but he never really harbored an interest in leaving Baltimore.

"To be honest with you, I really didn't care for other teams, really," Jackson said. "I just really wanted to get something done here. I wanted to be here. I was like, man, OK, other teams cool, but I want to be a Raven. … I really wanted to get this done before anything, before my time up and branch off somewhere else. I really want to finish my career here and win a Super Bowl here."

Jackson declined to get into specifics of what changed during the months of negotiating and tweaks made to previous offers. He added that Jalen Hurts' contract, announced 10 days prior to his own agreement, didn't affect his deal. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Jackson's deal includes a no trade clause, a no franchise tag clause and a $72.5 million signing bonus with $185 million in total guarantees upon signing. The Ravens QB will make an average of $52 million per year.

"Today, we're gonna keep it about the future," he said when asked about the trade request and perception of negotiations. "I'm not really worried about what happened in the past. We're gonna keep it about these next five years and keep it about what's going on today."

Jackson the player always wanted to re-sign in Baltimore, but Jackson the businessman patiently waited for the right deal before signing.

"It's a business. It's a business at the end of the day," he noted. "If you're gonna represent yourself, you've gotta have a strong mind. I wouldn't say you get out there and out your feelings in it because it's not about feelings. … It's a grown-man thing at the end of the day. So you've gotta be a grown man if you're gonna handle business."

The 26-year-old said the consistent statements from DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh throughout the process that he was their quarterback of the now and future underscored his desire to remain a Raven.

"It means a lot just to have guys, your head coach, and GM, wanting you to be here and believing in you, believing you can help your team achieve the almighty, ultimate goal within football and the NFL football at that," Jackson said. "I wouldn't want to go no other place."

With a new deal signed, Jackson can now focus on the 2023 season. He said he felt fully recovered from the PCL injury that knocked him out of the final six games of the Ravens' 2022 campaign, including a playoff loss to the Bengals.

This offseason, Baltimore revamped the offense, hiring coordinator Todd Monken, signing star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and drafting Zay Flowers in the first round, among other moves.

From what he's seen of the new playbook and the additions, Jackson is excited to get on the gridiron.

"I'm very eager, to be honest with you," he said. "I think I told someone, I want to throw for 6,000 yards with the weapons we have. ... I'm not an individual award type of guy or a stat watcher. I just want to do that because no one has ever done that, and I feel like we have the weapons to do it. We've got explosive guys. Like coach said, the new additions Zay, OBJ, and we got (Rashod) Bateman gonna be 100 percent healthy, too. ... Can't forget about Mark (Andrews), can't forget about my boy Mark, and (Isaiah) Likely. So, can't wait to get rolling."

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