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Lamar Jackson and the Ravens have agreed to a five-year contract, NFL Network and ESPN reported, and the team confirmed Thursday, a few hours before the NFL Draft was scheduled to start. 

CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson reported the contract was worth $260 million total.

Lamar Jackson is now the new highest-paid quarterback in the NFL, with $185 million guaranteed without an agent

After two long years of contract talk, Head Coach John Harbaugh conceded that he didn’t always know that negotiations would end the way they did, but he tried to maintain faith.

“I just felt like we were doing things the right way, and treating Lamar the right way and that it would work out one way or another,” Harbaugh said. “I didn’t know if it was going to work out with Lamar being there for sure; you just never know. You can’t know that, but I believed it would. To see it happen the way it did, today, to hear how excited Lamar was on the phone about it when we talked about it. That was really a great moment.”

Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta revealed that the Ravens made Jackson about five or six different contract offers

They continued to tweak different aspects to try to make it work and finally settled on a deal worth a reported record $260 million with $185 million guaranteed – both all-time NFL highs and ahead of the contract signed last week by Jalen Hurts.

“I couldn’t really say. What we try to do is come up with a deal that we think is good and fair for the player, that, hopefully, the player looks at and resonates with the player, as well. And it’s been ongoing,” DeCosta said. “When you negotiate, a lot of times you just kind of edge forward towards progress. Sometimes it’s fast, sometimes it’s slow, but you’re just trying to make progress, every single time, to find that sweet spot.

“The market is what the market is. John says it all the time; that’s the market. But I think that the way that we feel about Lamar, it’s the market-plus, if that makes sense. Like, we’ve seen Lamar; we’ve won lots of games with Lamar; we’re around him all the time. And we do feel that he’s the best quarterback in the NFL, and I think this contract reflects that.”

When asked what advice Jackson gives kids who admire him, Jackson replied, “I just tell them to be them. Be yourself. Be the head, and not the tail. Don’t be a follower, be the leader.”

Jackson continued, “When you get caught up in a different type of environment, like what we grew up from … people look at the other people who are getting money or stuff like that and want to follow that. Trying to get the easy way out, but not knowing, one wrong move and you’re gone for a long time. You could have just waited a few years. You could have been in the league, or you could have been doing something successful. That’s how I looked at it when I was growing up, and that’s what I tell the kids.”

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...