On March 27, 2023, Lamar Jackson took to Twitter to announce that he had requested a trade from the Baltimore Ravens back on March 2.
In the last three weeks, the Ravens tagged Jackson using their non-exclusive tag permitting other teams to negotiate with the former MVP. If Jackson signs an offer sheet with another team, the Ravens would have the opportunity to match the contract. If they do not match, the Ravens would receive two first-round picks.
With Jackson airing some dirty laundry between himself and the team, let’s take a look at what’s next for the quarterback.
What’s the Holdup?
Jackson appears to want a contract in line with what Deshaun Watson signed last off-season with the Cleveland Browns. Watson"s five-year, fully-guaranteed deal, dwarfs most other contracts in the NFL, even among star quarterbacks. The fully guaranteed part of the contract is a particular sticking point between the Ravens and Jackson. Jackson feels he should be under a fully-guaranteed contract while the Ravens are not willing to go to that extra step.
The problem compounds for Jackson as he needs a suitor in the NFL to not only offer a fully-guaranteed contract but be willing to part ways with two first-round picks if the team were successful in the pursuit of Jackson. This mystery team could also be outbid by the Ravens who could match the offer and keep the star quarterback.
Atlanta has been a popular destination in Lamar Jackson trade rumors, but they have publicly said they would not be pursuing the MVP quarterback. In the offense, Jackson would be at home in a run-first system under Arthur Smith. The Falcons have a sturdy offensive with the likes of Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary anchoring the right side. Jackson will also have a go-to weapon in Kyle Pitts, as well as the developing Drake London.
Owners of the No. 1 overall pick in this year‘s draft, the Carolina Panthers might be persuaded to draft their pick of the litter when it comes to quarterbacks. At the same time, one could argue that Jackson is better than any prospect in the class. The Panthers would have to part ways with the top pick, but Jackson might be worth the haul if he can lead them to the playoffs routinely.
The Raiders have also publicly said they were not pursuing Lamar Jackson, but they do not have a guaranteed starter at quarterback on the roster. In the off-season, they parted ways with longtime starter Derek Carr and replaced him with Jimmy Garoppolo. While Garoppolo has been a productive NFL starter at times, Jackson would be a clear upgrade. Jackson would have the likes of Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow to throw the ball to, and he could form a fearsome rushing duo with Josh Jacobs.
The Patriots are another popular destination for Jackson trade rumors, and they would not have to give up quite the same draft capital as other teams because their pick is not as high in the order. Jackson would be put behind a solid offensive line and a decent rushing attack, even though the unit lost Damien Harris from last season. The receiver corps needs work, but the Patriots have been willing to attack the position of both free agency and the draft.
With Tom Brady out of the equation, the Buccaneers need a quarterback. They currently employ Baker Mayfield, but Jackson would supplant Mayfield if it came to it. Jackson would have two of the top receivers in the NFL in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin to throw the football to as well as a solid offensive line and a deep tight end room. The rushing attack would need work, but the Buccaneers could draft a variety of options on Day 2 or Day 3.
Regardless of where Jackson ends up, the best-case scenario would be that it happens quickly. If he stays in Baltimore, or if he goes elsewhere, his team would need ample time to construct a plan for both the duration of free agency and for the draft. If Jackson were to go to a new team, he would need time to learn the offense and build rapport with his new weapons and offensive linemen
Similarly, if he stays in Baltimore, it would behoove Jackson to make it happen as quickly as possible to allow the Ravens to go after star wide receivers or fill out other depth pieces on the roster.
If this contract situation continues to drag into the summer, Jackson would be at a disadvantage regardless if he stayed in Baltimore or left for a new team. If he were to leave for a new team, he would have limited time to learn the offense and learn his teammates" tendencies. If he stays in Baltimore, he would’ve held the Ravens captive for several months, preventing them from making any moves in free agency without the risk of alienating Jackson. Either way, it is detrimental for Jackson that this saga has continued beyond the first wave of free agency.
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images