Amid contract talks, Ravens QB Lamar Jackson’s next move could be a training camp ‘hold-in’

In the final month of the Ravens’ off-season workout program, with questions hanging over his future in Baltimore, quarterback Lamar Jackson took a path that was at once controversial and defendable.

Team exercises were voluntary during three weeks of organized team activities, so Jackson dropped them for the first time in his career. “I just wanted to stay away and just grind,” he said on Thursday. He continued: “I asked my friends how they would feel if I stayed home. They were like, ‘This is cool.'”

The team had a mandatory three-day minicamp at Owings Mills last week, with a potential fine of more than $95,000 without exemption. So Jackson attended minicamps and practiced every day.

Now, as the Jackson and Ravens look forward to the start of training camp in late July, the organization’s most pressing question becomes: What’s next? Team officials resumed contract talks last week with Jackson, who said after practice on Thursday that he wanted to stay in Baltimore. But with his rookie contract ending later this season, Jackson was asked whether he would attend training camp or play in the season opener without a new deal finalized.

“We are in talks about it,” Jackson said, reiterating his version of a non-answer he gave to several contract-related questions. “I don’t know.”

Jackson’s next move may be as controversial as it is defendable: a training camp “hold-in.”

Under the NFL’s latest collective bargaining agreement, ratified in 2020, players who refuse to attend training camp face stiff penalties. Teams are required to fine players who are not on contract up to $50,000 per day for absenteeism. (That would include Jackson, who is set to play on a fifth-year option worth $23 million.) Because training camp technically runs from a team’s mandated reporting date until the Sunday before their first regular-season game. Is, Holdout could cost Giants more than $2 million,

With little recourse, players have flocked to training camp in search of a new deal. If they want to protest, their new stage is the field: hold-ins report for the convenience of the team but not required for practice. Last year in the midst of a contract dispute, Dolphins cornerback Xavian Howard arrived at Miami’s training camp and channeled his inner Marshawn Lynch. “I’m just here so I don’t get fined,” he wrote on instagram“And handle yourself like a pros.”

If the Jacksons and the Ravens can’t reach a new deal during the NFL’s summer hiatus, last year’s hold-ins may have offered a preview of several paths to contract resolution.

In Miami, Howard returned to practice on August 7 a day before his basic salary of $12.8 million was fully guaranteed and a maximum incentive of $3.5 million was added to his contract.

In Seattle, Seahawks safety Jamal Adams and offensive tackle Duane Brown both began camp as hold-ins. On August 17, Adams agreed to a four-year, $70 million contract extension, including a $38 million guarantee, which made him the NFL’s highest-paid security. Hours later, he was back at practice.

“He has studied like crazy, has been with us the whole time, all through Zoom, he has been with us during all our work. It is not like he is out somewhere left field,” said coach Pete Carroll told reporters. “So he knows what’s going on. He has to get his feet on the ground and the time to speak and communicate and all the things he needs to do. it will come.”

The wait for Brown was long and far less lucrative. His hold-in ended on September 6, just six days before Seattle’s season opener. On September 7, Brown’s contract, with only one year remaining, was renegotiated to a maximum value of $12 million and included an injury protection benefit.

But no standoff would have set the stage for Jackson’s next move better than TJ Watt. The Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker entered training camp last year as a two-time First Team All-Pro. Watt was in the fifth year of his rookie contract, but was seeking a new deal.

Between contract negotiations, Watt attended every training camp exercise, but did not participate fully. During team practice, where the risk of injury was high, Watt would work with strength and conditioning coaches in Pittsburgh.

Extension talks dragged on into the first week of the regular season, when Watt’s hold-in ended as he joined the team for practice. Just days before the Steelers’ self-imposed contract deadline for the season opener, he signed a $112 million four-year extension with $80 million guaranteed, including a $35 million signing bonus. The deal made Watts the NFL’s highest-paid defender.

“When you go through something like this, and you’re trying to stand up for what you believe in, and you’re doing it yourself, after you’ve been convinced by people that you’re going to care about their opinion the most. matter more,” Watt said, pointing to the messages of support that Steelers teammates voiced during their contract negotiations. “And of course there are moments throughout this process where you feel like you’re almost on your own. And that’s why it’s so important that those people say nice things.”

Asked if he would consider sitting out Week 1 without a new deal, Watt told reporters: “I’m glad we didn’t get to that point.”

Following his unusual lineage, might Jackson consider a similar approach? He said Thursday that he plans to work with the Ravens receivers in South Florida before training camp, and emphasized the notion that his playing style will make him more eager to secure his financial future. . “I don’t buy into it at all,” he said. “I play football; that’s why I’m here.”

As the Ravens wrap up the minicamp on Thursday, owner Steve Bisciotti addressed the team at its practice areas. “He asked them not to make any plays,” coach John Harbaugh said, referring to the team’s upcoming month-long break.

“I’m not worried about these guys at all,” Harbaugh continued, “but we look forward to seeing them in a few weeks.”

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