The contractual status of Baltimore Ravens’ franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson is the talk of the town and around the league during this annual dead period ahead of training camp. However, Jackson is still under contract for two more seasons since the team picked up his fifth year option.
According to one major media outlet, locking up his top target in the passing game over the last two years should be a top priority in 2022.
Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon compiled a list of players that each NFL team can least afford to lose next offseason and labeled tight end Mark Andrews as the player the Ravens need to retain.
“The Baltimore Ravens have bolstered quarterback Lamar Jackson’s arsenal this offseason, but now they may want to shift their focus to extending Jackson’s deal and keeping the standout tight end who entered the league alongside the franchise signal-caller in 2018,” wrote Gagnon.
He noted that the 2019 Pro Bowler has gone over 700 receiving yards and scored at least seven touchdowns in consecutive seasons which is something no Raven has done since Torrey Smith from 2011-2012.
“The reliable 25-year-old Oklahoma product is entering the final year of his rookie deal in Baltimore, and the Ravens don’t have any other tight ends of that caliber on the roster. They should make sure he’s part of the core well beyond 2021.”
Andrews has been an integral part of the Ravens’ passing attack since coming into the league as a third-round pick in 2018. He’s had a great rapport with Jackson since they were both rookies and assumed larger roles by the end of their first years. Both players broke out and were voted to the Pro Bowl after strong sophomore seasons in 2019. Even though their statistics came down a bit, they put up good numbers last year as well.
Locking up Jackson’s favorite target should be done before or immediately after his new deal gets done because as Gagnon stated, they have no comparable talent to him at the position currently on the roster. Premiere pass-catching tight ends aren’t a dime a dozen and the Ravens are fortunate enough to have drafted and developed a Top-4 player at his respective position.
During his tenure as the Ravens’ general manager since taking over as the head front office executive in the 2019, Eric DeCosta has been much more proactive and a lot less reactive. He’s locked up several cornerstone players a year early instead of waiting for them to ball out and drive up their price for the ensuing offseason.
I believe that he will take a similar approach with Andrews — so don’t be surprised if he ends up inking a new deal before, after, or around the same time as Jackson.