Like a tornado, Lamar Jackson's trade request blew through the coach's media availability during the NFL's Annual League Meeting on Monday. The Ravens quarterback sent shockwaves when he said via Twitter that he had requested a trade out of Baltimore earlier this month.
Jackson's tweet led to a flock of reporters surrounding Harbaugh who, despite Jackson's tweet, remains optimistic that he will remain the Ravens' starting quarterback in 2023.
"I haven't seen the tweet," Harbaugh said, via NFL Media. "It's an ongoing process. I'm following it very closely, just like everybody else is here and looking forward to a resolution. I'm excited. Thinking about Lamar all the time. Thinking about him as our quarterback. We're building our offense around that idea. I'm just looking forward to getting back to football and I'm confident that's going to happen."
Harbaugh admitted that he hasn't has spoken with Jackson recently. Jackson met with Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta recently, but the two sides were once again unable to find common ground on a new long-term deal. DeCosta said during the NFL Combine that the Ravens "want Lamar here" for 2023 and beyond.
"We don't have a gauge on that," Harbaugh said. "Oh, it's been a while. I mean, you know, it's going to have to be. Like I said, it's a unique situation, but when we get back together, you know, and I'm really hopeful that happens. That's what I want to see. You know, it's going to be great. It's going to be good."
Ravens President Sashi Brown echoed Harbaugh's comments and is also optimistic that they can keep the quarterback in Baltimore.
"We love Lamar [Jackson]. We're committed to getting something done," he said, (via Jamison Hensley).
Guaranteed money is reportedly the issue preventing Jackson and the Ravens from getting a deal done. Jackson reportedly turned down a five-year extension that would have paid him $250 million with $133 million guaranteed.
It appears that Harbaugh is either downplaying the situation, is an eternal optimist or is playing the game of saying one thing but thinking another. It's possible that Harbaugh truly believes Jackson will remain in Baltimore despite his trade request. No team, after all, has made Jackson an offer since the Ravens put the non-exclusive tag on Jackson. If the Ravens don't trade him, and no team makes an offer, Jackson may be forced to either play for Baltimore or sit out the entire season.
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The Ravens are likely building a contingency plan in the event that Jackson does not return in 2023. The team does have Tyler Huntley, who was named to the Pro Bowl this past season after replacing an injured Jackson late in the year. Huntley has finished the last two seasons for the Ravens after Jackson went down with an injury. Huntley is a solid option, but he is not Jackson, a former league MVP who has previously led the league in touchdown passes while also breaking the single season record for rushing yards by a quarterback.
Teams may want Jackson, but it appears that they are unwilling to pay him his desired contract while also giving the Ravens two first-round picks. That may likely lead to a continued standoff between Jackson and the Ravens unless a concession is made from either the quarterback or the team sometime this offseason.
Either way, this story will continue to dominate the headlines until there is a resolution.