The most reliable target of Lamar Jackson's career is getting paid.
The Baltimore Ravens have agreed to terms on a contract extension with Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews for four years and $56 million, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
The Ravens confirmed the deal soon after, with a statement from general manager Eric DeCosta:
"We are thrilled to announce a four-year contract extension with Mark Andrews on his birthday," DeCosta said. "Mark is exactly the type of player we wish to keep as a Raven long-term. He's competitive, passionate, talented and a leader. We are so excited to have him in Baltimore for the next five years. Congratulations to Mark and his family – and happy birthday."
The deal will make Andrews the third-highest paid tight end in the league at $14 million per year, according to ESPN's Jamison Hensley, behind only George Kittle ($15 million) and Travis Kelce ($14.3 million).
Andrews was set to hit free agency after this season, but he will now spend the foreseeable future in Baltimore, playing on an offense that has grown to rely on him in the passing game. Quite a birthday present for Andrews, who turned 26 on Monday.
Mark Andrews has been the Ravens' WR1
Throughout Jackson's career, one of the stickiest narratives is his lack of passes to wide receivers. A big part of that is how much Jackson throws to Andrews.
Of the 947 pass attempts Jackson has made in his career, nearly a quarter have been directed at Andrews. The tight end has converted 236 targets into 156 receptions, 2,105 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns across three regular seasons.
Andrews has been the de facto WR1 for the Ravens since the team drafted him in the third round of the 2018 draft, though the team is likely hoping that changes (for positive reasons) going forward. Baltimore has gone heavy on draft capital for wide receivers in recent years, taking four wide receivers in the first three rounds of the past three drafts.
Returns on that investment have been slow. Former first-rounder Marquise Brown has flashed talent throughout his first two years in the league, but not much consistency (or good health). Third-rounders Miles Boykin and Devin Duvernay have yet to crack 300 yards in a season. Rookie first-rounder Rashod Bateman will miss the start of the season due to a groin injury. The team added Sammy Watkins in free agency this offseason, but it's still not a wide receivers group you would call formidable.
For that reason, the Ravens weren't going to let Andrews walk.
When will Lamar Jackson get his deal?
Locking down Andrews leaves the Ravens with pretty much only one other young player to make a decision on after extending Ronnie Stanley and Marlon Humphrey, trading Orlando Brown Jr. and letting Matt Judon walk.
That would be Jackson, who has a year and a contract option remaining on his rookie deal. It's hard to see the team letting Jackson go anywhere, and even if Jackson wanted out — all indications have been he doesn't — the team can still get another year or two out of him via franchise tags.
It's quite likely Jackson signs an extension with the Ravens sometime soon, and signing his top target for the long term can help those efforts.