Last we heard from Lamar Jackson, he was keeping his contract negotiations with the Baltimore Ravens "private" and drama-free. He told reporters he expected to finish his career in Baltimore and wouldn't take into consideration the ridiculous $230 million contract the Cleveland Browns handed Deshaun Watson despite numerous sexual assault allegations.
That was over a month ago, though, and no new information has surfaced since.
But some clues on social media could signal frustrations from Jackson, who is representing himself during his contract negotiations. The current-Ravens quarterback changed his Instagram profile picture as well as his Twitter banner picture on Friday to a photo of golden teeth that spell out the phrase "I NEED $."
I think Lamar Jackson is trying to tell somebody something with his new IG profile pic. Lmao pic.twitter.com/nZDrYuP638
— Kip Smithers (@Chughes612) July 8, 2022
It could mean nothing, or it could mean everything.
According to Jackson, it means nothing. Despite the apparent implications of the post, Jackson responded to the uproar he initiated, telling USA Today's Safid Deen that he posted the image because he thought it was funny.
“I don’t know why people are blowing it up," Jackson said on Saturday, per Deen. "I just saw Bleacher Report post it. They just take anything that’s posted on social media and just blow it up, and try to think for you. I don’t take it too seriously.
“They’re making it seem like I’m talking to the Ravens when I’m not. Our contract discussion is going on already. But it ain’t about that though. I’m not putting my business life on social media. I won’t ever do that. I won’t put my personal life on social media. I’ll show stuff, but I won’t throw subliminal [messages] out. That’s not me.”
Jackson is set to return to the Ravens for training camp on July 27 in the final year of his rookie contract. He'll make $23 million guaranteed in 2022, which ranks ninth in the league this season. Jackson has some leverage on his side, too — he's already won an MVP, earned one All-Pro nod and two Pro Bowl selections in his first four seasons. Jackson has also scored the 10th-most total touchdowns among quarterbacks since he entered the league in 2018.
For what it's worth, the Ravens have expressed their desire to keep Jackson. Owner Steve Bisciotti said in May that the team appreciates him and wants to make a new contract work. Bisciotti also floated the idea that Jackson could do what Kirk Cousins did from 2016-17 in Washington and play on the franchise tag for two years to save the team money.
Other QB questions
This isn't the first time this offseason a quarterback's social media antics were connected to a contract dispute. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray deleted references to his team on his Instagram page earlier this offseason and his agent later explained Murray's contract demands. Murray returned to the Cardinals during mandatory minicamps, but could still be searching for a new deal (even though he still has two years left on his rookie deal).
Jackson isn't the only first-round quarterback from the 2018 draft with an uncertain future. Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 pick, and Sam Darnold, the No. 3 pick, are both fighting for new contracts this season — and for the same team, too! They, like Jackson, are in the final year of their deals but flamed out on their old squads before they were both traded to the Carolina Panthers in consecutive seasons.
Josh Allen, the seventh pick of the 2018 draft, is the only quarterback from that class who's signed a multi-year extension so far. The Buffalo Bills handed him a six-year, $258 million contract this past offseason.
What comes next for Jackson, though, is entirely up to him and the Ravens. Jackson repeatedly said he wanted to keep the negotiations private, but this most recent development could mean something changed in his line of thinking. Either way, Jackson's future will certainly be one of the biggest questions this season.