The saga of Lamar Jackson's contract negotiations with the Baltimore Ravens reached a possible inflection point Monday when Jackson revealed he requested a trade back on March 2 — five days before the Ravens placed the non-exclusive franchise on him.
But to truly understand the situation, you had to roll back the calendar all the way back to before the 2022 season, when negotiations first started between Jackson and the Ravens. Updates have been few and far between, but the crumbs, comments and social media posts show how the talks progressed to what they are today.
Sept. 2022: Ravens, Jackson fail to agree on a new deal
Jackson and the Ravens were unable to finalize a long-term deal before Jackson's Sept. 9 deadline, which set him up to play the 2022 season on the final year of his rookie contract. The offer reportedly would have made Jackson the second-highest-paid player in the NFL and his guarantees would be second behind only Deshaun Watson's $250 million.
Jackson later tweeted that he declined a deal that included $133 million guaranteed over three years, though NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported that those numbers were part of a longer extension.
Jan. 16: Jackson posts cryptic Instagram story
Soon after the Jackson-less Ravens lost in the wild-card round to the Bengals, Jackson posted an Instagram story about not playing with or neglecting "something good."
It wasn't the first subversive social media post from Jackson — and it certainly wasn't the last. Jackson previously tweeted out the diagnosis of the knee injury that kept him out of the final four games of the regular season and the Ravens' playoff game, and he also tweeted, deleted and apologized for a vulgar comment in response to a fan saying he shouldn't be paid following a loss.
Jan. 19: Ravens say they've re-engaged in contract talks, wouldn't talk trade
Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta and head coach Jim Harbaugh spoke to reporters during the team's end-of-season media conference and sounded optimistic about getting a long-term extension done. DeCosta also refused to answer questions about whether the Ravens would trade Jackson if they couldn't agree on a new deal.
"That's something that we're not going to talk about at this point," DeCosta said at the time. "... our focus right now is really to get a long-term deal done; that's our singular focus at this point. It's going to take some time, it's going to take some effort, it's going to take great communication – give and take – but I'm confident that we'll be on the right path to get that done.
"I truly believe Lamar wants to finish his career in Baltimore."
Feb. 14: Ravens hire OC Todd Monken to replace Greg Roman
Harbaugh originally said Jackson would have input in who the Ravens hire as offensive coordinator after the team parted ways with Greg Roman. However, Jackson reportedly did not have direct communication with any of the candidates, according to NFL Network, and the Ravens reportedly didn't fully include Jackson in the hiring process, according to CBS Sports, before the Ravens ultimately hired Monken.
March 1: DeCosta re-affirms he wouldn’t trade Jackson
During the NFL combine, DeCosta once again denied a trade would be on the table for Jackson. He added that he would do what's best for the club and "we're trying to do what we can for Lamar."
"I covet quarterbacks and I covet great players," DeCosta said. "And I love Lamar. So [a trade] has not factored in one time with me. We want to do what's best for the club. We're trying to do what we can for Lamar. We want to make everybody happy. We want to make the Ravens happy. I want to make [owner] Steve [Bisciotti] happy. I want to make Lamar happy. I want to make our fans happy."
DeCosta added that he and Jackson had recently met and continued to talk and discuss the situation.
"We both understand the urgency of the situation; it's been a good dialogue, a good discussion," DeCosta said. "I'm optimistic, as I continue to be optimistic, and we'll see where it goes."
March 2: Jackson tells Ravens he wants to be traded
While no reports at the time indicated it, this is the day Jackson said he officially requested a trade from the Ravens on March 2. In his tweet on March 27, Jackson said the Ravens haven't "been interested in meeting my value."
March 7: Ravens place the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson
The decision to place the non-exclusive tag versus the exclusive tag meant Jackson was free to negotiate with other teams for a new contract during the free agency period. Baltimore would have the ability to match any offer sheet he signed or receive two first-round picks from whichever team inked Jackson. If Jackson doesn't agree to a new deal, he'll have to play the 2023 season on a guaranteed salary of $32.4 million.
Almost as soon as the news broke, several teams were reportedly uninterested in pursuing Jackson despite an apparent need for the position: the Washington Commanders, Las Vegas Raiders, Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers
March 8-20: Ravens and Jackson continue to talk
News of the negotiations remained limited, though NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said on March 8 the Ravens offered Jackson a deal that would be worth more than $40 million a year, including a deal "heavy with guarantees."
Jackson reportedly continued to negotiate with the Ravens as recently as the week of March 20, per Rapoport, with no clear positive movement.
March 23: NFL warns teams about negotiating with 'uncertified person' for Jackson
The league reportedly sent a memo to teams after a person named Ken Francis allegedly contacted NFL team executives on behalf of Jackson. However, Francis is not a certified NFLPA agent and would therefore be prohibited from negotiating for Jackson on any extension. Jackson denied the report almost immediately.
One of the biggest issues in the entire contract situation is Jackson's lack of an agent. It's muddied the waters on how business is conducted and made the already-adversarial negotiation process that much more difficult for both sides.
March 27: Jackson tweets 'a letter to my fans' during Harbaugh's media availability
In what can only be described as either the biggest coincidence in contract negotiation history or a genius tactic, Jackson announced via Twitter he had requested a trade on March 2 just minutes before Harbaugh was scheduled to speak at the annual owners meeting in Phoenix. In the tweet, Jackson said the Ravens weren't "interested in meeting my value."
Harbaugh said he hadn't seen the tweet at the time but double-downed on the idea Jackson would remain the Ravens' starting quarterback in 2023.