Baltimore Ravens Quarterback Lamar Jackson Has Reported for Mandatory Minicamp After Missing OTA’s

by Bryan Fyalkowski

Even though one of the words in OTA’s is “optional,” NFL fans seem to freak out when a player misses them. It was no different for Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who elected not to attend Baltimore’s OTA’s over the past few weeks.

When the team reported to mandatory minicamp on Monday, Jackson showed up with a message for Ravens fans: “I hope you’re ready for the season, became I’m surely is.”

On May 27, Jackson quote-tweeted a Pro Football Talk segment where hosts Mike Florio and Chris Simms spoke on his absence from OTA’s. And Jackson was not a huge fan.

To Simms’ point, however, Jackson said earlier in his career that he wants to win like Tom Brady. But Tom Brady did not skip OTA’s until he had a Super Bowl ring on his finger.

New Group of Ravens Receivers

Baltimore made a big move on 2022 NFL Draft night, trading away one of Lamar Jackson’s primary targets – wide receiver Marquise Brown – to Arizona for a first-round pick. The Ravens used their two first-round picks on the best safety (Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton) and center (Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum) available. They did not take any wideouts, but did select two highly-touted tight ends (Iowa State’s Charlie Kowar and Coastal Carolina’s Isaiah Likely) in the fourth round.

Behind returning tight end Mark Andrews – who led the team in 2021 with 107 catches for 1,361 yards and nine touchdowns – Jackson will have to find new teammates with whom to mesh. That was the primary reason why some thought Jackson missing OTA’s was a problem, but his teammates (Andrews included) did not see it as much of an issue.

“I know he’s extremely motivated, extremely hungry. So there’s no worries over there,” Andrews said at the time. “I know what he’s doing and we’re all working to do our job here and getting ready for him … I’m confident that he’ll be ready and show everybody what he’s got and the type of hunger he has right now.”

Jackson’s NFL Career Thus Far

Lamar Jackson fell to Baltimore with the 32nd pick in the 2018 Draft. He started seven games the next season and the Ravens were 6-1 in those contests. In his first full season as the starter in 2019, he exploded onto the scene and won MVP. Jackson threw for a league-best 36 touchdowns compared to only nine interceptions while helping lead the team to a 14-2 record and an AFC North title. He had 3,127 pass yards on a 66% completion rate, while adding 1,206 rush yards and seven scores on the ground.

But the last two years – for whatever reason you want to attribute it to – Jackson has regressed. His Total Quarterback Rating went from an NFL-best 83.0 in 2019, to 67.3 in 2020 and 50.7 in 2019. He missed the final four games last year due to an ankle injury.

Jackson has been working out privately this offseason and seemingly is 100% healthy coming into mandatory minicamp. He is set to earn $23 million this year, going into his fifth campaign. But after 2022, Jackson does not have a contract lined up yet. If the two sides cannot reach a long-term deal, the Ravens would likely franchise tag their star quarterback.

Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta says the team has tried to start negotiations, but Jackson is not yet interested in meeting about that yet and talks will happen “at Lamar’s urgency.” Notably, Jackson is not represented by a professional agent – he and his mother negotiate his contracts, and they have together since he was drafted back in 2018.