INDIANAPOLIS — When the Baltimore Ravens’ braintrust held a season-ending information convention on Jan. 19, the tone was hopeful however pointed: There was important floor to cowl in contract negotiations with quarterback Lamar Jackson and a shrinking window of time to work with.
Six weeks later, the talks stay caught in a quagmire of ambiguity, whereas the setting among the many Ravens retains getting extra tense.
The newest flip got here this week, when basic supervisor Eric DeCosta considerably stunningly shaded his huge receivers whereas assembly with the media on the NFL scouting mix, framing Baltimore’s struggles in evaluating the place with a line that was sure to be a magnet for his locker room:
“I would say a lot of people would say the same thing; it’s a challenging position to evaluate in different ways. If I had an answer, that means I would probably have some better receivers, I guess. We keep trying.”
The response from certainly one of DeCosta’s wideouts — 2021 first-round decide Rashod Bateman — was predictably frigid. The much less predictable facet was that Bateman responded publicly on social media, whereas additionally together with a protection of Jackson.
In a tweet that was deleted minutes later, Bateman responded on to DeCosta’s remarks:
“[H]ow bout you play to your player’s strength and & stop pointing the finger at us and #8,” Bateman wrote, referring to Jackson. “[B]lame the one you let do this…. we take heat 24/7. & keep us healthy … care about US & see what happen..ain’t no promises tho … tired of y’all lyin and capn on players for no reason.”
After taking the message down, Bateman tweeted out “my apologies” with a hugging emoji.
What can’t be erased or changed is the simplicity of the message: Bateman appeared annoyed sufficient to go at his basic supervisor publicly (in a way that you can argue was honest recreation, given DeCosta’s remarks), and he selected to incorporate Jackson in his message regardless of the quarterback not being a part of DeCosta’s quote.
The line “blame the one you let do this” additionally gave the impression to be a not-so-veiled reference to former offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who “stepped down” in January and was changed by Georgia Bulldogs offensive coordinator Todd Monken final month, a rent that was reportedly made with out Jackson being a central a part of the method. And if that wasn’t sufficient, Bateman’s inclusion of “keep us healthy” and “care about US” comes sooner or later after the NFL Players Association launched league-wide crew report playing cards that eviscerated Baltimore’s power coaches, rating them useless final within the NFL with a grade of F-.
In that report card, which was the results of nameless polling of greater than 1,300 of the NFL’s 2,200-plus energetic gamers, the NFLPA remarked that Baltimore’s power coaches “[W]ere even significantly below the second-worst team [in the NFL]. Players do not feel like the strength staff helps them be more successful. The team recently parted ways with Head Strength Coach Steve Saunders, so we will be interested to see if this area improves in his absence.”
That criticism of Saunders drew tweets from former Ravens gamers Carl Davis Jr. and Quincy Adeboyejo, who went straight on the former coach.
“I was def a victim of the strength coaches. Two Labrums and multiple pec strains,” Davis Jr. wrote, referencing previous accidents.
“Definitely ruined my career,” Adeboyejo wrote. “3 year season ending injuries in a row after being healthy my entire career prior.”
On its personal, that public flogging by the NFLPA and the following dialog about accidents ought to concern the Ravens. But coupled with Bateman’s remarks directed at DeCosta, and mingled with the continued awkward contract dance with Jackson (who ended his season in a seemingly tense damage standoff), it provides one other layer into an ongoing saga that’s getting worse for Baltimore. And it focuses extra consideration on the urgent questions on how the Ravens and their star quarterback appear to be getting into coin-flip territory between Jackson signing an extension or being traded this offseason.
DeCosta doesn’t seem like having a neater time answering a few of these questions, significantly after the previous six weeks passing with successfully nothing to report this week on the mix. Not even a lot as a customary “we’re making some progress” comment.
If something, DeCosta’s feedback about negotiations with Jackson seemed like that they had been ripped from his season-ending information convention from six weeks prior, when the work was supposedly simply beginning.
“Yes, Lamar and I are talking,” DeCosta mentioned. “We met recently. It’s an ongoing discussion. We both understand the urgency of the situation; it’s been a good dialogue, a good discussion. I’m optimistic, as I continue to be optimistic, and we’ll see where it goes.”
Pressed on the challenges of the negotiation, DeCosta subtly talked about a facet that continues to be a difficulty. Most elite quarterback negotiations contain some sharp-elbowed moments when a basic supervisor overtly airs his criticisms a few participant to their agent, spurring the talks ahead as the 2 sides search to seek out widespread floor. Jackson doesn’t have an agent, which makes that form of head-on negotiation tactic much more dicey. The GM is aware of he can say some blunt issues to an agent that received’t depart scars on his relationship with the participant. In this case, DeCosta must say these issues on to Jackson, and it may impression the way forward for Jackson’s relationship with the entrance workplace and the teaching workers.
“I think when you deal with an agent, sometimes you’re able to speak very freely [and] position yourself a certain way,” DeCosta mentioned. “You have different arguments that you can use that maybe you wouldn’t say to a player. So, I think that’s part of it. There’s a lot of respect — tremendous respect — because I’m with a player like Lamar, a player like Roquan Smith who also represented himself. Every day, you see the commitment, [and] you understand where they’re coming from. So, it’s definitely a different dynamic.”
Instead of approaching the franchise tag deadline on Tuesday with some form of traction, it’s trying and sounding just like the Ravens and Jackson aren’t any nearer to a long-term deal. Meanwhile, the 2 sides are exchanging leaks behind the scenes which can be offering totally different narratives in regards to the form of deal Jackson is in search of.
All indications from league and union sources have been that Jackson is in search of a long-term totally assured deal just like the one signed by Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson final yr. This regardless of a report from ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith that Jackson isn’t in search of a completely assured deal, which continues to be shot down by a number of sources accustomed to the negotiations between Jackson and the Ravens.
The subsequent 5 days will reveal what all this implies, with the final word reply more likely to be supplied in no matter type of franchise tag the crew places on Jackson, adopted by his subsequent response to the transfer. Either he’ll settle for the tag and transfer into the offseason with the crew, or he’ll reject it and ask to be traded. What appears much less more likely to occur with every passing day is a last-ditch extension.
The interval to make that occur is coming to a detailed. And about the one change that has taken place is that issues across the Ravens have gotten worse fairly than higher.