The ongoing saga between QB Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens has taken its penultimate turn. Jackson took to Twitter on Monday to share with Ravens’ fans that on March 2, he requested a trade, because Baltimore hasn’t been interested in meeting his value.
in regards to my future plans. As of March 2nd I requested a trade from the Ravens organization for which the Ravens has not been interested in meeting my value, any and everyone that’s has met me or been around me know I love the game of football and my dream is to help a team
— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) March 27, 2023
Jackson made sure to thank the fans for his time in Baltimore, but now the next hurdle is getting Jackson on a new team. Which team could be best set up to bring in the former NFL MVP?
1. Atlanta Falcons
There is a reason that the most smoke around a potential Jackson destination floats over the Atlanta Falcons, and that reason is that it makes a ton of sense schematically. Before taking over as the head coach in Atlanta, Arthur Smith oversaw an offense in Tennessee that turned Ryan Tannehill into an upper-tier quarterback.
That offense relied on RPOs, the threat of the quarterback run, and more elements that catered to Tannehill’s athleticism. That same system made the most out of Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder last season, but imagine what it would look like with Jackson at the helm.
Sitting with the eighth-overall pick, the Falcons could potentially get priced out of the rookie quarterback market. But with the cap space to add Jackson, this might be the move for Atlanta.
2. New York Jets
The New York Jets have not been quiet about their desire to add a veteran quarterback this offseason. The Jets were stable, competent quarterback play away from making the playoffs a year ago, and with the young talent they have on the roster, it seems like a window is open for them to contend.
They just need the quarterback to fill out the roster.
Derek Carr’s decision to sign with the New Orleans Saints takes one option off the table, and while the presence of Nathaniel Hackett in the building makes Aaron Rodgers an option — and recent reporting indicates that the team has spoken with the quarterback — if Jackson is available, he should also be on their radar.
The Jets would need to be creative financially to make such a move, as New York is currently just over the cap heading into the 2023 league year, but for a player of Jackson’s caliber, you find a way to make it work.
And, if their pursuit of Rodgers does not materialize, Jackson is one heck of a fallback option.
Also, do not discount the familiarity between Jets general manager Joe Douglas and the Ravens. Douglas began his NFL career as a scout with the Ravens, spending 15 seasons in Baltimore.
3. Indianapolis Colts
In recent days, the idea of Jackson finding a way to Indianapolis has taken shape.
Now that the quarterback has indicated he would like to be traded, could he find his way to the AFC South?
The Colts currently have the fourth-overall pick in the upcoming draft, and with the potential for a team to trade ahead of them, Indianapolis could be looking at drafting QB4 with that selection.
Or they could add a former MVP.
It is the old Family Guy “mystery box” gag. They could add a quarterback with that pick who could one day become Jackson.
Or they could just that pick to just go and get Jackson.
4. Carolina Panthers
The assumption this offseason is that the Carolina Panthers are going to draft a rookie passer, and with what they have put in place structurally around the quarterback position, that makes a lot of sense. New head coach Frank Reich does have a record of QB development — he was part of the Philadelphia Eagles coaching staff in 2017 that turned Carson Wentz into an MVP candidate before his knee injury — and other coaching additions such as Thomas Brown, Parks Frazier, Duce Staley, and Josh McCown round out a talented offensive staff.
That, coupled with the trade to the top of the board, makes it seem that the Panthers are going the rookie route.
Still, the Panthers did meet with Carr, so they appear open to the idea of a veteran option. There was earlier reporting that the Panthers are more interested in “cheaper” veteran options, given the status of their cap space as free agency beckoned. However, recent moves have put the Panthers in a much better financial position.
Perhaps a position favorable to a Jackson deal.
5. Washington Commanders
The ongoing saga regarding owner Daniel Snyder and the potential sale of the Washington Commanders continues. But regarding the roster, head coach Ron Rivera spent most of his Combine talking about how the Commanders are going to enter 2023 with second-year quarterback Sam Howell as their QB1.
However, Rivera qualified that by stating that he needs to earn that spot during training camp. “We will go into OTAs, minicamp and training camp with Sam Howell more than likely QB1, and we’ll see what happens,” said Rivera last week. “I mean, it’s his opportunity. This is a challenge to him. If he comes out and does the things that he’s capable of, we believe he’s capable of, he can most certainly be our guy.”
Having added Eric Bienemy as their new assistant coach/offensive coordinator, expectations in Washington center on the idea of a much more creative offense, with more shifts, increased use of motion for information and impact, and a much different feel for the offense in 2023.
Adding Jackson would kick those expectations into high gear.
Their financial position would make this a tougher move. The Commanders have just over $2 million in available cap space.
But for Jackson, you find a way to make this work.
They also have some pieces in place on offense, including wide receiver Terry McLaurin. While the team also added Jacoby Brissett in free agency, that should not preclude adding Jackson as the starter.
Oh, and there is the Snyder factor. According to reporting from ESPN last fall, he believed finding a franchise QB would be a “silver bullet” towards saving his position in Washington.
Jackson would qualify.
6. New England Patriots
There are moments in this job where it is hard to separate the analyst from the fan.
One such moment for me was last week in Indianapolis during the NFL Scouting Combine. It was Friday morning, and the media was assembled in Hall J of the Indianapolis Convention Center, where the quarterbacks were set to speak with the media.
As I stood in front of the podium awaiting Bryce Young, I noticed something.
Patriots beat writers.
Did I need to know something?
I immediately went over to my friend Evan Lazar, who does a tremendous job covering the team for Patriots.com, and he assured me that he was working on a story regarding Bill O’Brien’s offense and he wanted to get a quote from Young for the piece. But Evan was not the only member of the Patriots beat in front of Young, and those same media members stayed in place for both C.J. Stroud, and Anthony Richardson.
Year two of the Mac Jones experiment was a setback, and certainly the situation around the young quarterback was not the best environment, given the coaching staff the Patriots put together last offseason. That led to changes this winter — such as the hiring of O’Brien — and the unprecedented announcement of their search for an offensive coordinator in advance of that move.
That has all opened the door to speculation about Jones’s future in New England.
And when you have Bill Belichick singing Jackson’s praises like he did last fall:
Bill Belichick on if Lamar Jackson has answered all the pre-draft concerns people had with him:
“Without a doubt. He’s the type of players that’s an MVP candidate. … Wait until we see what his contract is, that will answer them.”
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 21, 2022
The Patriots are in a strong financial position at the moment, sitting almost $32 million over the cap according to my friend Miguel Benzan, the premier Patriots salary cap analyst in the business. If Jackson is indeed available, something tells me New England will at least kick the tires.