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Ravens’ contract talks with Lamar Jackson are ‘fluid’; team looking for ‘sweet spot’ in NFL draft | NOTES

Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said Monday that the team’s contract negotiations with quarterback Lamar Jackson are “ongoing,” and he indicated that he’s optimistic about hammering out a long-term deal.

Jackson, voted the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 2019, is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, though the Ravens can exercise the fifth-year team option on his deal for 2022.

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“That’s definitely a fluid thing,” DeCosta said of the negotiations at Monday’s predraft news conference. “Lamar and I have had discussions about that. I think it’s important to us and it’s important to him. I think Lamar is obviously a very patient guy. He wants to be the best he can be. He wants this team to be the best it can be, and he wants to win very badly, so we’re aligned that way.”

DeCosta said in March that the Ravens hadn’t “really gotten into the actual contract proposals,” and he did not address whether that had changed. But team officials have said they’re committed to signing Jackson to what would be a record-breaking extension for the franchise.

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The market for quarterbacks has not cooled off over the past year. Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys agreed to a four-year, $160 million contract, including $126 million guaranteed, while Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson signed a four-year, $156 million extension. Jackson’s deal could eclipse both in terms of annual value.

“I’m confident that we’ll continue to discuss this, and I think at some point, hopefully, we’ll have some good news for everybody,” DeCosta said Monday.

‘Sweet spot’ for picks

The Ravens have seven picks in next week’s NFL draft, but DeCosta, as always, indicated that the front office wants more. As for how many more?

“If your team is strong and if you think you have a pretty good roster, then it’s tougher for guys to make the team,” DeCosta said. “So you don’t want to have 15 picks or 13 picks or 12 picks every year. But this is a good draft. We see a lot of talented players at the starter level, potentially, so if we have the chance to get a pick or two extra, then we’ll probably do that. We don’t necessarily want to have 11 or 12 picks this year, but there is a sweet spot.”

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The Ravens have picked an average of 10 players over the past three drafts, including eight in 2020. They last drafted fewer than eight prospects in 2017, when they took seven. DeCosta said there are about 200 players the Ravens consider draftable in this year’s class, “which is a very strong, healthy number.”

In the family

The Ravens didn’t have to go far to get a scouting report on Clemson wide receiver Amari Rodgers. His father, Tee Martin, is the Ravens’ new wide receivers coach.

“I think we know what he liked for breakfast growing up at some point in time,” coach John Harbaugh joked Monday. “But he didn’t need a good report. He stands on his own. He’s got high grades from the coaches and the scouts, and he’s definitely a player that we’re talking about.”

The 5-foot-9, 212-pound Rodgers led the Tigers with 77 catches for 1,020 receiving yards last season while tying for the team lead with seven touchdown receptions. He’s considered a potential Day 2 prospect.

“Just a great kid,” Ravens director of player personnel Joe Hortiz said. “And highly competitive, versatile. Boy, at his Pro Day, he did running back drills and he looked like a natural running back, which he was ... in high school. But as a slot receiver, really physical, strong, knows how to get open, reliable player. Also has some return ability. So [a] fun player to watch, and it’s neat to have, certainly, a really close source to him on the staff.”

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