PHOENIX — Lamar Jackson unleashed his latest surprise in his ongoing contract saga with the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, announcing that he had requested a trade from the team just as coach John Harbaugh sat down to speak to reporters at the NFL’s annual league meeting.
Jackson, who represents himself, tweeted that he requested the trade on March 2 as the team “has not been interested in meeting my value” in contract talks.
“… I love the game of football and my dream is to help a team win the super bowl,” he tweeted, adding that Ravens fans “are great but I had to make a business decision that was best for my family and I. No matter how far I go or where my career takes me, I’ll continue to be close to my fans of Baltimore Flock nation and the entire State of Maryland. You’ll See me again.”
Harbaugh was asked immediately about Jackson’s tweet as he was sitting down at the AFC coaches’ breakfast.
“I haven’t seen the tweet. It’s an ongoing process,” Harbaugh said. “I’m following it very closely, just like everyone else here. I’m looking forward to a resolution.”
With reporters packed shoulder to shoulder around his table, Harbaugh consistently remained upbeat about Jackson. He smiled and cracked the occasional joke while answering 32 questions during his 27-minute media session.
Harbaugh said he is still building the offense around Jackson and doesn’t see a damaged relationship with the 2019 NFL MVP. But Harbaugh acknowledged that there is uncertainty surrounding Jackson’s situation.
“I don’t know what direction it’s going to go,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t have a crystal ball. I can’t tell the future. But I know whatever happens is going to be good. It’s going to be OK. I have my hopes. I love Lamar Jackson.”
The Ravens placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on Jackson on March 7 — five days after Jackson said he made his trade request — which allowed him to negotiate with other teams. If Jackson signs an offer sheet, Baltimore would have five days to either match it or receive two first-round picks as compensation. If there is no offer sheet, Jackson would earn $32.416 million this season if he plays under the tag.
Asked whether he was certain that Jackson would play this season under the tag, Harbaugh said, “I don’t know,” adding that he hadn’t spoken to Jackson about that.
Harbaugh said “it’s been a while” since the last time he talked with Jackson. His last interaction with Jackson was through a text message about the offense and the coaching staff.
But Harbaugh still believes Jackson will be his quarterback in Week 1.
“You got to plan for all the contingencies, for sure,” Harbaugh said. “I’m pretty fired up about Lamar Jackson. Lamar Jackson is a great player. Lamar came back in great shape last year. He’s fired up to play. That’s the Lamar that I’m looking forward to seeing.”
Last September, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen that Jackson turned down an offer from Baltimore that included $133 million guaranteed at signing, $175 million guaranteed for injury and $200 million in total guarantees if he’s on the roster on the fifth day of the 2026 league year.
The $200 million would rank second among all quarterbacks to Deshaun Watson (five years, $230 million guaranteed) and would surpass deals signed by Kyler Murray ($103.3 million guaranteed at signing) and Russell Wilson ($124 million guaranteed at signing) last year. Schefter and Mortensen reported in September that Jackson wants a fully guaranteed deal similar to Watson’s.
Jackson hasn’t talked about his contract since Week 1 of last season, and he hasn’t spoken to reporters since Dec. 2.
Asked whether he thought the timing of Jackson’s tweet Monday was to exert pressure, Harbaugh responded, “I really don’t know. It’s part of the business of football.”
Jackson’s playmaking ability has made the Ravens one of the most successful teams over the past five seasons. His record of 45-16 (.738) is the fourth-best of any quarterback who debuted in the Super Bowl era, trailing only Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady and Roger Staubach. Jackson was named the NFL’s MVP after the 2019 season. The Ravens have struggled without Jackson the past two seasons, going 3-9 (.308) in his absence.
But Jackson’s passing and durability have come under scrutiny. Over the past two seasons, Jackson has totaled 33 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions and has missed 11 games, including a playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals last season.
The Ravens hired Todd Monken as their new offensive coordinator this offseason, and Harbaugh repeatedly said they’re building the new offense around Jackson.
“That’s the guy I want to see be our quarterback. That’s my guy,” Harbaugh said. “We made a decision to go with Lamar Jackson five years ago. Why? Because we love him. We love the way he plays, we love his mindset, his charisma, his style — everything about him we love him.”
Jackson’s tweet is another unexpected twist in his negotiations with the Ravens, which have spanned 25 months.
Last week, the NFL warned teams in a memo that they are permitted to negotiate only with Jackson because he does not have an NFLPA-certified agent. The NFL can fine teams $47,000 if a club negotiates a contract with an agent or representative not verified by the NFLPA.
Asked when he would want Jackson’s situation resolved, Harbaugh joked, “yesterday” before adding, “I just appreciate that it’s being handled with class. Lamar has handled it with class.”
Harbaugh insisted all of the drama is the business of professional sports.
“It’s going to work itself out,” Harbaugh said. “If we’re playing football next year and Lamar Jackson is our quarterback, we’re all going to be happy. He’s going to be fired up to play. He’s going to be happy to be out there playing, too. It’s a fluid kind of a thing. There’s no periods in any of this.”
However, Washington Commanders GM Martin Mayhew said his team is moving forward with Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett, and New York Jets GM Joe Douglas said his focus is on acquiring Aaron Rodgers and he wouldn’t pivot to Jackson to put pressure on the Packers, saying “it would be disingenuous and negotiating in bad faith if we went down that path.”
Robert Kraft, meanwhile, said rapper Meek Mill, a good friend of the Patriots owner, texted him recently to say that Jackson wanted to play for New England. Kraft said he responded that would be a decision that belongs to coach Bill Belichick.