Are Lamar Jackson Trade Rumors About to Pop Off?

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Are Lamar Jackson Trade Rumors About to Pop Off?

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Despite the heroics of backup quarterback Tyler Huntley, the Ravens season ended last night in Cincinnati. Huntley played well enough to give the Ravens a shot with Lamar Jackson watching from home, but not enough to get the job done.

Head coach John Harbaugh said he was proud of coming up just short of an upset win over the Bengals, given the circumstances. Running back J.K. Dobbins wasn’t as interested as his head coach in moral victories and flat-out said Baltimore would have won with Jackson under center.

Harbaugh and the Ravens won’t have long to sulk over another season of what could have been. They’ve got to figure out what they’re going to do with star quarterback Lamar Jackson.

The Ravens reportedly offered Jackson a six-year deal that would have included $133 million guaranteed. Jackson, who represents himself, turned that deal down. Instead, the start quarterback is believed to be seeking a contract extension that includes guaranteed money equal to what Cleveland’s Deshaun Watson received last offseason.

With Baltimore’s offseason officially underway, the two are expected to resume negotiations, with both believing they have the upper hand after last night’s loss.

Jackson can argue that his teammate J.K. Dobbins is correct, and the Ravens would have won last night if he had been healthy. After all, the Ravens are 45-16 with Jackson under center and 8-14 when he’s sidelined.

Of course, the Ravens can argue that the fact that Jackson wasn’t available for last night’s game is precisely why they’re not comfortable guaranteeing the majority of Jackson’s money in an extension. They would have a point. Jackson would as well, however. And this is where things get sticky, and the belief that Jackson’s time in Baltimore may be over arises.

This weekend, Audacy NFL reporter Jason La Canfora floated the idea of the Ravens tagging and trading Jackson. La Canfora’s insider credibility has been questioned in the past, but he’s always been pretty plugged in with the Ravens.

Benjamin Allbright (of the Broncos’ flagship radio station in Colorado) took that idea further on Twitter. Allbright seconded La Canfora’s original report and said that he expects the Falcons to “be at the front of the line” for such a trade.

Letting Jackson walk for nothing seems like an unlikely scenario for the Ravens. That wouldn’t make any sense. However, it also seems like the two sides have an unresolvable philosophical disagreement on guaranteed money.

So, maybe the idea of a tag and trade isn’t that wild. But to whom? The franchise tag for a quarterback is projected to be $45.2 million this offseason. That number makes it all the more reasonable that Baltimore would trade Jackson on the franchise tag since that number would cripple their projected cap space. Over the Cap has the Ravens projected to have $50.46 million in cap space.

Whoever trades for Jackson will need the cap space to extend Jackson *and* be willing to entertain his idea of how much cash he should be guaranteed. But, of course, they’ll also need to provide the Ravens with a trade package in return for Jackson. Not impossible, but tricky.

Let’s examine some teams that might be on the phone with the Ravens if this plays out that way.

Atlanta Falcons

Whether or not Allbright was assuming or reporting that the Falcons would be a front-runner in this scenario, it tracks.

Atlanta is projected to have $58.6 million in cap space this offseason. Plus, the No. 8 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft would be an excellent conversation starter in trade talks. The Falcons have nine picks in the upcoming draft including two fourth round picks. Maybe the eight overall pick, a fourth-round pick, and future pick interests the Ravens enough to get it done.

Cleveland sent the thirteenth overall pick, two future firsts, a future third and fourth-rounder, and a 2022 fourth-rounder to Houston last offseason for Deshaun Watson. Denver sent Drew Lock, Noah Fant, Shelby Harris, two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and their 2022 fourth and fifth-round picks to Seattle for Russell Wilson. Both teams then extended their respective quarterbacks.

So, maybe it costs the Falcons more. Maybe the No. 8 overall pick is packaged with one of their 2023 fourth-round picks, two future first-round picks, and then some.

Is the juice worth the squeeze? Maybe. It’s not unheard of these days.

New York Jets

The Jets are in a similar situation. They’re projected to have roughly $58.2 million in cap space this offseason and are in need of a quarterback.

New York says they’re committed to Zach Wilson, but his play doesn’t warrant it. Besides, we’ve heard teams back their guy only as long as a better option wasn’t available plenty of times. The Jets own the No. 13 pick in the NFL Draft and five more picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.

The Jets are also closer to competing than the Falcons are. Can you imagine the Jets with Lamar Jackson, Breece Hall, and Garrett Wilson?

Las Vegas Raiders

The Derek Carr era is over, and the Raiders are searching for a quarterback. If the Wild Card weekend taught us anything, it’s that elite surrounding weapons could improve a quarterback’s performance. One thing Lamar Jackson never had in Baltimore was a bona fide No. 1 receiver. Hello, Davante Adams.

The Raiders will trade Derek Carr or cut him by February 15, at which point they’ll free up an additional $29.25 million in cap space to give them $63.8 million in cap space this offseason.

That tracks so far. Vegas owns the No. 7 pick in the draft and eight additional selections, including two fifth-round picks and two seventh-round picks.

Baltimore was a playoff team, so a quarterback with which they can remain competitive might be something they’re interested in as a bridge. In other words, maybe Carr also goes the other way in the deal. At No. 7, the Ravens could add a big-time wide receiver prospect for Carr. Couple that with their dominant defense, and they could remain competitive in the AFC North.

They could pass on Carr, demand a similar haul of picks as the Seahawks and Texans last season, and start fresh. Either way, Vegas seems like a potential trade partner that could work.

Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis has done the stop-gap thing under center for years now. With a new head coach in tow, it’s about time they invest in the future at quarterback. Of course, the fact that the Colts pick fourth in the draft makes them an outside candidate for this though exercise, you never know.

Do the Colts love Will Levis? Maybe. Will Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud be there at No. 4? Not likely. Indianapolis is projected to have the 11th most cap space this year at $29.4 million, and they have the No. 4 pick and eight additional draft picks.

Lamar Jackson and Jonathan Taylor? Indianapolis’ rushing attack would be as dangerous as any in football. Again, an outside shot, but crazier things have happened.



Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.