OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Odell Beckham Jr. can't make any promises about Lamar Jackson's future, although his preference is obvious.
“The goal was to come here and have that possibility to play with him,” Beckham said. “I didn't get any assurances for anything. Life's uncertain. I think we don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, the next day. We only know what's happened in the past.”
The Ravens acquired Beckham on a one-year deal worth up to $18 million including $15 million guaranteed. That agreement led to some obvious questions: Was this a sign that Beckham knew Jackson would be the quarterback in Baltimore this season? Or would the addition of the star wide receiver make it easier for the Ravens to keep their franchise quarterback?
There was even a screenshot on Instagram that appeared to be Jackson and Beckham on a video call.
“I don’t know if he called me, I called him or whatever," Beckham said Thursday at his introductory news conference with the Ravens. "He just was excited about it, excited about the opportunity, the possibility.”
Right now that's still a possibility and not a certainty. The Ravens used the franchise tag on Jackson, who then announced that he'd requested a trade in early March. Unlike at their pre-draft news conference earlier this month, the Ravens didn't try to shut down questions about Jackson on Thursday.
“I have not talked to Lamar since the signing (of Beckham). There’s been interaction along the way," general manager Eric DeCosta said. "Lamar’s in our plans. We love Lamar. Our feelings about Lamar have not changed one bit since the end of the season. We’re hopeful still that we’ll get a long-term deal done. He’s the right player for this team to lead us to where we want to be.”
As for whether Jackson wants to return — in light of his trade request — DeCosta said there has been communication since then.
“It would probably be not smart on my part to talk about those details, because Lamar and I have decided together that we weren’t going to discuss that stuff personally,” DeCosta said. “In saying that, as I said, we only think of Lamar as the quarterback of this team, and we’re hopeful to get a deal done.”
Signing Beckham represents a change for the Ravens this offseason. Baltimore used first-round draft picks on receivers Marquise Brown in 2019 and Rashod Bateman in 2021, but the Ravens traded Brown last year and didn't bring in any significant veterans to replace him. Then Bateman was limited to six games by foot problems, and Baltimore was left with a substandard group of wideouts by the end of the season.
Now the Ravens have aggressively tried to fix that by bringing in Beckham.
“We’ve tried in the past. This isn’t the first time we’ve tried to do that," DeCosta said. "Sometimes you succeed, sometimes you don’t.”
The 30-year-old Beckham did not play last season following ACL surgery. He began his career with the New York Giants and most recently played for the Los Angeles Rams, which led to a question about going from those two massive markets to Baltimore.
“Well, I was in Cleveland.” Beckham said, referencing his 2019-21 stint with the Browns. “Not the biggest of cities.”
When Beckham was in Cleveland, he worked with offensive coordinator Todd Monken, whom Baltimore recently hired to fill that role.
Beckham also talked a bit about Jackson's situation from a player's perspective.
“I've been in contract negotiation. I've been on the side where you've worked your entire life for one, first, to get to the NFL. Then the second-most important thing is to take care of your family and get your contract. It's a very thin line when it's your heart that's involved and you are a personable person and you feel like you've done so much and you deserve this, and then the business side gets in the way," he said.
"It's just the nature of the business that we're in. It's very tough. It's no written script for it, or how to handle it or how to deal with it. But I could definitely tell that he was excited about the opportunity to be able to get to work, if that does present itself. Obviously, he's who I would love to play with.”
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