While the NFL Draft isn't until next month, there's still plenty to pay attention to as it relates to players actively in the league. The franchise tag deadline was March 7 at 4 p.m. ET, and teams around the league must decide on key players.
One of those players is Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. His contract and status with the team have been debated for quite some time.
Well, we've reached a resolution.
Uh, kind of.
On franchise tag deadline day, the Ravens did tag Jackson.
However, for those unaware, you can place three types of "tags" on a player.
- Transition tag: This is a one-year tender offer that's the average of the top 10 salaries at the position. This allows the team submitting the tag the right of first refusal to match any offer players receive from other teams. If the tagging team doesn't match, they won't receive any compensation.
- Exclusive franchise tag: This is the more common one when we refer to the franchise tag. This tag gives the team exclusive rights to negotiate with the player. It pays them per the average of the top five salaries at the position, or 120% of their previous salary (the player receives the larger number).
- Non-exclusive franchise tag: Unlike the exclusive tag, other teams can negotiate with the player. If a team offers a contract and the tagging team doesn't match, they'll receive two first-round picks. The salary is the average of the top five salaries at the position over the last five years.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Jackson received the last one — the non-exclusive franchise tag — which is fairly unusual for a player of his stature.
Ravens sent notice to the NFLPA that they placed the $32.41 million non-exclusive franchise tag on QB Lamar Jackson. He now is allowed to negotiate with other teams, but the Ravens have the right to match any offer sheet he signs signs or take two first-round picks in return for? https://t.co/4WkCDNNPcP
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 7, 2023
We'll look at the implications of that and try to predict which, if any, teams will negotiate with the scrambling signal-caller.
Will Jackson Be With The Ravens in 2023?
This is the ultimate question. The fact that they did the non-exclusive tag could be a ploy to show Jackson that he won't get the contract he's looking for on the open market. He's likely seeking a fully-guaranteed deal but even more than what Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has.
The Ravens also protect themselves in that if he goes elsewhere, they will recoup two first-round picks.
Yes, Jackson is worth more than two first-round picks, but think about it: If they did the exclusive tag, there's a strong chance that Jackson would sit out. There are some questions as to whether he could've actually played toward the end of last year.
So, based on this tag, there's a legitimate chance that the Ravens will be looking for a new quarterback.
Teams That Could Sign Jackson
Following this news, it was safe to assume that the Atlanta Falcons would be in on Jackson — but that doesn't appear to be the case.
According to Josh Kendall, a Falcons beat writer for The Athletic, the Falcons will "not be involved" in Jackson's "contract situation."
The Atlanta Falcons will not be involved in the Lamar Jackson contract situation, according to a source. It was fun while it lasted.
— Josh Kendall (@JoshTheAthletic) March 7, 2023
So, with the Falcons seemingly out of the picture, where could Jackson land if he doesn't stay with Baltimore?
Las Vegas Raiders
According to Over The Cap, the Raiders have close to $40 million in cap space and hold the No. 7 overall pick. Adding Jackson would make the AFC West even more competitive and would give head coach Josh McDaniels a weapon unlike any other.
The team recently franchise-tagged running back Josh Jacobs, who led the league in rushing last season, so this could be an incredibly productive tandem.
For the Ravens, this would put them in a position to get a quarterback by moving up or potentially even getting one at No. 7 overall.
Sitting at No. 9 overall, the Panthers would likely need to trade a lot of future assets to jump into the top three to get a quarterback this year.
Instead, they could opt to go after Jackson. They have some salary cap issues; but for a player like Jackson, let's just say this is what salary cap personnel and the general manager get paid to figure out.
New York Jets
After talking to Aaron Rodgers on Monday, the Jets could now explore the possibility of getting Jackson. He'd be a long-term fit for the team and would immediately allow them to compete with the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East.
After releasing quarterback Carson Wentz, the quarterback room in Washington is bleak, to say the least.
The Commanders have stated they want in on the veteran quarterback market. While this may not be exactly what they had in mind, this is a franchise-altering move for a percentage of what you'd need to traditionally trade for a player like Jackson.
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