A look at the teams that might make a move for the former MVP
Lamar Jackson is prepared to leave the Ravens, it is established. Jackson said on Monday that he asked the Ravens for a trade in the first week of March, weeks after Baltimore placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on the star quarterback, allowing the former MVP to talk to other clubs in free agency.
Despite the fact that a new contract had not been actually finalized, both parties had long maintained publicly that they favored a long-term cooperation. John Harbaugh, the head coach of the Ravens, even made the claim on Monday that Jackson will still be the starter in 2023. Moreover, theoretically, Baltimore still holds Jackson’s rights until this season; it has the option to match any outside offer the QB might receive while under the tag or to acquire two first-round draft picks in order to free Jackson to sign with another team.
But now that the Pro Bowler has made his desire to play elsewhere known, it might only be a matter of time before the Ravens consider trade offers. By trading for him in a standard trade, Baltimore might be able to get more than two first-round picks as compensation for letting him leave via free agency.
Which teams are most likely to be interested in Jackson given that? As for our opinion:
11. New York Jets
It would have been better if they hadn’t previously (informally) wed Aaron Rodgers. Strictly speaking, they could withdraw from the Aaron Rodgers race, and they could be wiser for it if they choose to back a previous MVP who is 26 instead of one who is approaching 40. Joe Douglas, the general manager, even has a long history with the Ravens, which might be used to Jackson’s advantage in future trade talks. Nevertheless, they are all but eliminated from contention now that the New York Knicks have a playoff-ready squad and Rodgers has officially stated his interest in moving there.
10. Carolina Panthers
They courted Derek Carr before moving up for the No. 1 pick in the draft, indicating that they are at least somewhat willing to pursue the veteran approach. It would be a wise bet in a winnable division to pair Jackson with renowned QB whisperer Frank Reich and a talented supporting cast on both sides of the ball. At No. 1, where they will have their pick of the best prospects, they are undoubtedly sold on taking the rookie path.
9. Houston Texans
They’re natural contenders to follow the Panthers’ lead and spend their top selection in the draft (No. 2) to address the quarterback position, especially after adding so many one-year Band-Aids in free agency once more. No matter which talent Carolina selects at No. 1, it’s likely that new head coach DeMeco Ryans will be handed an intriguing rookie signal-caller. Ryans would not rule out the option after learning of Jackson’s trade request, but with an additional first-round pick at their disposal, perhaps they would be interested in adding more of a sure thing.
8. Minnesota Vikings
Under Kevin O’Connell in 2022, Kirk Cousins displayed greater resiliency than normal. Yet, he is entering a contract year and has established, through his background and reputation as a play-action pocket passer, that he belongs firmly in the middle echelon of quarterbacks in the NFL. Young GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah feels like the kind of executive to investigate an unconventional change to a playmaker like Jackson, especially if Minnesota isn’t well-positioned to draft a top prospect, amid a makeover of older, pricey veterans. Adofo-Mensah has openly speculated on the future of Kirk Cousins, but the Vikings have a premier weapon in Justin Jefferson to go along with such a talented quarterback.
7. Detroit Lions
They think highly enough of Jared Goff to keep him on as a seasoned mentor and stand-in, and they’re in a good position to add his replacement at the top of the 2023 draft. Nevertheless, with extra selections from their previous Matthew Stafford trade, which undoubtedly resulted in the arrival of Goff, they are also able to consider making a significant veteran splash. Consider Jackson’s inherent enthusiasm combined with Dan Campbell’s energy on a roster that is on the rise in a potentially competitive NFC North.
6. Atlanta Falcons
Falcons won’t be chasing Jackson, according to recent reports from ESPN and NFL Media, although logically speaking, they ought to and might reconsider. They only added Taylor Heinicke as a QB in free agency, they still have a decent amount of cap room, and they may be selecting too late in the first round (at No. 8 overall) to select one of this year’s top prospects. Coach Arthur Smith is entering his third season in charge of the staff without any obvious QB future, a year after courting Deshaun Watson.
5. Washington Commanders
Few teams are quicker to investigate the veteran QB market, and while signing Jacoby Brissett to compete with 2022 rookie Sam Howell on a moderate contract, they still glaringly lack an explosive talent to start at quarterback. With a mobile QB in Cam Newton, coach Ron Rivera reached the pinnacle of his career in Carolina. They would provide Jackson with Terry McLaurin, at least one high-end weapon, and close proximity to his current Baltimore neighborhood. They’re also not particularly well-suited to select a quarterback early.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jackson would still have top weapons like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, not to mention that playing in his sunny home state, while Tom Brady is retired “for good,” the Buccaneers aren’t totally turning to rebuild mode after three consecutive postseason runs. They do have a financial hardship, but it hasn’t stopped them in the past. And they shouldn’t be discouraged from making a much bigger swing at the position because to the inexpensive investments in Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask.
3. Tennessee Titans
Despite having a contract, Ryan Tannehill is very expendable following a dismal season marred by injuries and in which General Manager Jon Robinson was banished. Franchise stalwarts like Derrick Henry are expected to be traded, so a complete rebuild seems inevitable. Nevertheless, because Mike Vrabel is constantly in the postseason mix, a veteran swing could still be in the cards. The 49ers front team, which included new general manager Ran Carthon, took a chance on Trey Lance’s athleticism in the 2021 selection, possibly positioning them as a good stylistic fit for Jackson’s run-heavy strategy.
2. New England Patriots
After the failures of 2022, Bill Belichick overhauled the offensive framework, reconnecting with coordinator Bill O’Brien and remaining silent regarding incumbent QB Mac Jones’ long-term job security. Belichick has publicly praised Jackson as MVP-level material. After three disappointing seasons after Tom Brady, Belichick is undoubtedly ready to make a win-now pivot at the age of 70. The final piece of the puzzle might be a blockbuster QB addition after doubling down on a run-heavy, short-area approach by signing players like James Robinson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Mike Gesicki in free agency.
1. Indianapolis Colts
Everyone understands they need to end the experienced QB carousel, especially team ownership. But at only 26 years old, Jackson would be a spectacular long-term investment. Instead of investing more money in the supporting cast, GM Chris Ballard and incoming coach Shane Steichen may choose to use their position in the selection (No. 4 overall) to sign a young gun to a rookie contract. Nevertheless, given that the Panthers moved up to No. 1, they might be compelled to go with a more unpolished, developmental option if skilled passers like C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young have already been selected. Jackson’s shown NFL talent is all the more intriguing in light of this.