The summer between the third and fourth year of their career is typically when the NFL's best young players get paid. The timing makes sense. They're coming up on being eligible for free agency, so their teams want to lock them in long-term, while the players themselves want to get a well-deserved raise.
Right now, the 2018 draft class is going through that process. That means Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is extension-eligible. A deal has not been agreed to just yet, and there has not been much news about progress on that front. (No news is not necessarily bad news, mind you.) Ravens coach John Harbaugh does not think the lack of news, or an eventual agreement between Jackson and the Raves, will affect his quarterback's performance on the field.
"Lamar understands what's important," Harbaugh said, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. "Look what he's done. He's going to get paid and he knows that." Harbaugh continued and noted that the more pertinent question -- and the one Jackson himself is concerned with -- is what Jackson's legacy will be.
In two-plus seasons as the starter, Jackson has proven himself to be one of the most dangerous weapons in the league as both a passer and a runner. He led the league with 36 touchdown passes in 2019, while also rushing for 1,206 yards and seven additional scores. That performance won him the league's MVP award. He took a slight step backward in 2020 as he dealt with offensive line injuries and downfield accuracy issues, but he was still quite good. He's 24 years old and clearly one of the most impactful players in the NFL.
It seems likely that the recent contracts signed by Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson will serve as a baseline in Jackson's extension talks, though if they carry into this season and Jackson puts together another MVP-caliber campaign, he could get up into Patrick Mahomes territory. The rushing volume Jackson carries could complicate things a bit, but the Ravens have been very open about wanting to pay Jackson and keep him around for a long time.