In his four NFL seasons, Lamar Jackson has started 53 games, including four in three trips to the postseason, won 38 of those starts, reached two Pro Bowls, been named a first-team All-Pro and earned AP Most Valuable Player honors in 2019.
But the Baltimore Ravens quarterback, still just 25 years old, says he has room for improvement as opponents start to get a grip on his game.
"Lately, since I've been in the league, defenses have been changing," Jackson said recently on UNINTERRUPTED's The Shop. "They don't play me like they play other defenses. I've got to get ready for a dog fight every game. They're going to play their best."
The numbers bear out the QB's claims. Jackson, an unparalleled dual-threat pro, has seen his interception totals steadily increase over the years -- he threw 13 picks to just 16 TDs in 2021 -- and he rushed for just 767 yards last season, a high mark among QBs but subpar for Lamar. Jackson also missed five games last year due to illness and a bone bruise in his ankle.
Asked by co-host Maverick Carter what he wants to change about his play to get back on track heading into his fifth year in the league, Jackson replied, "My approach. My mindset. Just a lot maturer. I felt like I was a little immature, not in a bad way, but just like ..."
If Baltimore is to reap the benefits of a more mature Jackson going forward, then the two sides will have to work out a contract extension before the start of the 2023 league year. Jackson is entering the final season of his rookie deal and set to earn $23.1 million, his first big NFL payday courtesy of Baltimore making the easy call to pick up his fifth-year option. But after this year, Jackson is not under contract, and as of this week, he and the Ravens have not made progress on a new deal.
Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine that the Ravens were hopeful to strike a pact with Jackson, but that it was up to the QB to come to the table.
"We've discussed this at length and I've said this before: We will work at Lamar's urgency," DeCosta said Wednesday. "He and I have had ongoing discussions. We've talked fairly recently as well. He knows how to find me; I know how to find him. I was very happy to see him working out on the West Coast recently with some of our guys. That's exciting. Something that we really think will help us this year be the very best team we can be.
"He's a guy that when we think about the Ravens three, four, five years from now, we envision Lamar being a very, very big part of that team and definitely a player that can help us win Super Bowls."
A Super Bowl title is also on Jackson's mind. The Ravens have made the postseason thrice under his leadership, but have won just one game and yet to make it past the Divisional Round. Jackson envisions a championship for himself in the future, as well as success off the field.
Asked what lessons he takes from NBA legend LeBron James, who co-hosts The Shop, Jackson said, "Everything. Being a champion. I feel like that's the one thing I wanna take from him, if anything else. Being a champion and being a billionaire.
"That's just what I've been thinking about since I was a little kid. Being a billionaire and being a champion."
Whether Jackson will become either or both with the Ravens remains to be seen.