Lamar Jackson is shedding weight in his prime like past Super Bowl-winning QBs

Over the length of his career, Drew Brees did it. As did Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger. Tom Brady? He turned his version of it into a branded nutritional and product lifestyle.

They bulked up physically, then fine-tuned down when their career arc or injuries called for it.

Now you can add Lamar Jackson to that list after the Baltimore Ravens quarterback unveiled a significantly more svelte frame during Wednesday’s organized team activities.

Jackson declined to give a specific weight, but a source close to the quarterback told Yahoo Sports that Jackson is down “at least” 10 pounds since the end of the 2023 season and also “significantly” down from a career-high weight in 2022. The source declined to give a specific weight for Jackson in 2022 but said the peak during the calendar year was “somewhere between 230 and 240 [pounds]” at one point. Jackson’s playing weight at Louisville hovered between 205 to 215 pounds from his sophomore to junior seasons. He weighted in at the 2018 NFL scouting combine at 216.

“I don’t really know how many pounds I lost,” Jackson said Wednesday. “I’m like two-[hundred] something right now. But I’ll say it was important enough to be able to move around a little bit extra, that’s all.”

He added that his target weight was to be under 230 pounds, adding that the trimmer physique was “Just so I can be more agile and be able to move more.”

While the adjustment seems counterintuitive from the standpoint of being able to absorb punishment, it makes sense when pressed against the offensive changes made by coordinator Todd Monken last season. Monken’s offense moved away from the methodical pounding running game of previous coordinator Greg Roman, demanding a more up-tempo style that leaned heavily on Jackson leading the decisions in the rushing attack while also making adjustments at the line of scrimmage. In the process, it became more clear that a bigger frame also meant a less agile runner, leading to more punishment absorbed.

The difference now — in theory — is that Jackson should be more elusive when he’s running the ball or navigating the pocket, while also not wearing down late in games while pushing a higher tempo scheme. It also dials Jackson closer to his 2019 frame, which saw him put up arguably the best season of his career in terms of production, which capped the first of his two MVP seasons.

It’s worth noting that while Jackson is only 27, he’s entering his seventh year in the league, which is often right about the time upper-echelon veteran NFL quarterbacks start to tweak their physiques during the prime years of their careers. Brees did it with the New Orleans Saints, heading into his 30s as a leaner player who was squeezing everything he could out of his agility. Rodgers also began to change physically into his prime years, although with weight that was more centered on his core strength at first, then a slimmer and stronger build into his mid-to-late 30s. Brady bulked up in his prime years, then began focusing on a stronger and leaner frame that was focused more on flexibility than sheer strength. Even Roethlisberger, who was notorious for working himself into shape as the season went along, adopted a leaner frame in his later years, helping to squeeze out whatever movement he could in his later years.

That Jackson is arriving at this path now in Baltimore speaks to some of the same commitments of those other quarterbacks — signaling his drive to change and adapt his body as he sees fit. And this was something that he took on himself. It wasn’t a directive from the Ravens or the product of internal opinion.

“I think that’s Lamar. He’s a pro,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said of Jackson’s commitment to slimming down. “He knows what he’s doing. He knows where he wants to be with that. My concern is that he’s in shape, best shape of his life, and he's working toward that. He’s ready football-wise, all the details that go with that — mentally, physically, spiritually ready to go. That’s kind of what I think about. I know he talks to the strength and conditioning people. He’s got his own people. He talks to [director of sports nutrition] Sarah [Snyder] all the time. He’s a pro. He knows what he's doing.”

How it will ultimately reflect in the Ravens' offense remains to be seen, particularly with the additions that include veteran running back Derrick Henry and rookie wideout Devontez Walker. For now, the continuity at coordinator, Jackson’s personal tweaks and the development of wideout Zay Flowers — along with Henry in the backfield — would seem to be the likeliest catalysts for a Super Bowl push that ultimately fell short last season in an AFC title game loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Asked how long it took him to get over that loss Wednesday, Jackson replied, “Now.”

“[It] hurts more losing before the Super Bowl than actually being a part of it, because we worked so hard 17 weeks, plus the little playoff games, and we get to a game away and lose,” Jackson said. “We didn’t really put any points on the board, [when] we were just scoring 30 points against crazy teams, great defenses. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great defense as well [in Kansas City], but [we faced] the top-ranked defenses. We just have to finish; we have to find a way to move the ball in the right direction and put points on the board because our defense did their thing the whole night.”

For the teams that fall short, part of that change is what starts now, in offseason workouts. Then into the full squad minicamps and into the fire of training camp. Jackson started on his own a little earlier and a little differently than expected, changing a part of what he brings to the table physically. Now the Ravens will have to see if it pays similar dividends to other highly successful quarterbacks, who not only won Super Bowls, but pushed their careers into their late 30s and beyond.

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