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  • Writer's pictureTony G.

The Curious Case of Lamar Jackson

Updated: Mar 18, 2023

It’s not common for a former league MVP who has won nearly 2/3 of his career games to become available in the NFL. What’s even less common is for it to happen at age 25 and at the expiration of their rookie contract. Lamar Jackson is now in that exact position. Lamar is a special talent and part of the reason for him being in this position is that he, just like everyone else, knows how special he is and what his value should be. Although Lamar has missed 10 games over the past two seasons, I do not think the Ravens question his value. However, recent questions about his durability and commitment, due to sitting out a playoff game that he may have been healthy enough to play in, do have the Ravens hesitant to grant Jackson’s wish for his next contract. A fully guaranteed deal.

When the Cleveland Browns gave Deshaun Watson a fully guaranteed deal worth $230 million, most NFL owners took a precautious stance because they saw what this could lead to. While I don’t question Watson’s talent, to sign a player to that kind of deal coming off of one of the most disgusting accusations in recent NFL history was a bold move, to say the least. But what it meant for contract negotiations for players going forward, as warned by the NFL’s Management Council, was where the issue with Watson’s deal would impact the league.

Now we see this with Jackson. The Ravens have assigned the non-exclusive tag to Lamar, allowing him to negotiate with other teams. The Ravens can match any offer, or let Jackson leave while receiving two first round picks in return. Not exactly a steep price for a player like Jackson, as the recent trade market shows. The Texans received 3 firsts and 4 mid-round picks for Watson. The Lions received 2 first round picks and Jared Goff, who was the first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, in exchange for Matthew Stafford. Jackson is more valuable than both of those players. But teams are not jumping at the opportunity to sign him for one reason, the demand for a guaranteed deal, which could be a flex by the NFL owners to discourage any future player negotiations going down this road.

Things look bleak for the partnership between the Ravens and Lamar. But facts are facts and Jackson is still a top 10 NFL QB heading into his prime. Jackson may back off his stance, which could be the key to opening teams up to acquiring him. Here’s a breakdown of the top 5 teams that should be in on the former MVP.

5. Washington Commanders

The Commanders split the 2022 season between Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke, combining for over 3600 yards and 23 touchdowns. Flash forward to the 2023 season, Heinicke is in Atlanta and Carson Wentz looks destined to carry a clipboard or hang up his cleats. The team seems determined to see what they have in former 5th round pick Sam Howell, who only has one game and 19 career passing attempts under his belt. At 8-8-1, the Commanders barely missed out on a playoff berth in 2022 with mediocre quarterback play. With the help of a little salary cap magic, adding Jackson under center would easily push the Commanders into a wild card spot in the wide-open NFC. It would be interesting to see what Lamar could do with a true number one receiver in Terry McLaurin.

4. Miami Dolphins

Miami was looking like a juggernaut to begin their 2022 campaign. Tua Tagovailoa appeared to be the QB they were hoping for when they drafted him in 2020 and the massive price paid to make the trade to acquire Tyreek Hill from the Chiefs was instantly validated as the Dolphins started 3-0. But multiple injuries forced the Dolphins to turn to third string QB Skylar Thompson and their season ended after a loss in the AFC Wild Card Round. While Jackson also has injury concerns, he would be an upgrade over their current quarterbacks. Chris Grier has built a Super Bowl caliber team that has a very short window for success. They should take a page from the Rams playbook and go all in on the QB that could win them a title for the first time since 1974.

3. Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons have addressed a few of the issues defensive side of the ball this offseason. They also boast a young core of offensive talent with Drake London and Kyle Pitts, with a potential breakout candidate in Tyler Allgeier in the backfield. The team drafted Desmond Ridder as the QB of the future in the third round in 2022 to be the man to replace Hall Of Fame QB Matt Ryan. The Falcons won two of the last four games with Ridder under center, but the QB was held without a touchdown in three of those four games. In a division that is in the middle of a massive transition period, making a splash by adding Lamar Jackson could guarantee the team wins the division for the next few seasons. Once you make the playoffs anything can happen.

2. Indianapolis Colts

Barring a trade up to the number three pick in the draft, the Colts, who at one point looked like a lock to land one of the top two quarterbacks in the draft, are now one call from the Raiders or Falcons jumping in front of them and having to settle for the 4th best QB prospect in the draft. Lamar Jackson is a proven player in the NFL. No one knows what the careers will be like for any of the prospects in this draft. Trading for Jackson is a risk but, for a team that was hopeful of being a Super Bowl contender with the likes of Carson Wentz and aging veterans Phillip Rivers and Matt Ryan, it’s the best value that you are going to get for the 4th pick in the draft.

1. New York Jets

The Jets seem content in ruining their franchise for the next 4-5 years by going all in on one year with Aaron Rodgers. Acquiring Rodgers looks like it will cost the Jets a first round pick In this year’s or next year’s draft. The cost does not stop there as Aaron Rodgers has requested that specific players from his past team are also acquired to help the quarterback transition easily with players that he has chemistry with. Ultimately, this may lead to the Jets being stuck with bad contracts after one year of quarterback play from Rodgers. The cost for Lamar Jackson, outside of his contract negotiations, would stand at two first round picks since Jackson is on the non exclusive franchise tag. While the Jets may be saddled with a contract that may cause salary cap complications down the road, getting a star quarterback in Jackson, who is only 25 years old sets the Jets up for multiple years of success. Using one extra first round pick, and not adding three or four players on bad contracts, seems like a no brainer for a team in the Jets who is potentially one quarterback away from being a team that can dethrone the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC and when multiple Super Bowls with the roster that they have put together.

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