Jackson hadn’t missed a game due to injury in his first three seasons, but he practiced just once in the last four weeks of the 2021 season.
After hurting his ankle in Week 14 against the Cleveland Browns, he sat out for the rest of the Ravens season during a crucial stretch that determined whether Baltimore would make the playoffs.
They did not, and one can’t help but wonder if the Ravens would have made the postseason with Jackson under center.
The star quarterback is entering the final year of his rookie contract, his fifth-year option, in 2022 and hasn’t yet cleared up his contract status. He told ESPN on Monday:
“We haven’t talked about it [a contract extension] yet. Man, I got to worry getting back right, right now, and getting ready for this offseason.”
Despite coming off arguably the worst season of his career, there should be no question that Jackson is staying with the Ravens franchise.
In 12 games this season, Jackson threw for 2,882 yards and 16 touchdowns but recorded a career-worst 13 interceptions and a 51.0 overall quarterback rating.
Ravens QB Lamar Jackson wants to focus on getting healthy in 2022
Baltimore went 1-4 without Jackson and ended with an 8-9 record, their first losing season in six years.
As with any elite quarterback, Jackson will be expensive — his salary will amount to roughly $23 million next season — but Baltimore can and will find the cap space to make room for him.
That was the optimistic takeaway from last offseason’s initial contract negotiations when Jackson and the Ravens seemed to signal a desire to reach a mutual agreement.
Jackson said his current ankle injury is “day-to-day,” but if there’s one good thing to come out of missing the postseason for the first time since 2017, it’s getting more time to rest.
No team wants to have its star quarterback in contract limbo, but nonetheless, Jackson has made his priorities clear for next year, adding that he also wants to work on “team bonding.”
“[I want to] try to get those guys all in one unit be together so we can have a real team bonding. We can start fresh to this upcoming season.”
Last year, a COVID-19 outbreak derailed the team’s preseason and beginning of the regular season, forcing John Harbaugh to scotch-tape the roster together amid weekly COVID-19 absences, not to mention a flurry of unexpected season-ending injuries.
With Gus Edwards, J.K. Dobbins, and more Ravens hopefully healthy in 2022, Lamar Jackson knows he must get back to full strength for a playoff-contending season. The contract business can come later.