With all the looming speculation around Lamar Jackson to come this offseason, the idea that the quarterback could be traded has become a fan favorite.
And after the Baltimore Ravens signed off-ball linebacker Roquan Smith to a five-year, $100 million deal, the idea that Lamar's next contract might come from a new team is the topic of conversation.
Jackson is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. However, the Ravens still have the ability to franchise-tag him. If they do that, there are two ways to go about it:
- Option A.) Sign him to a non-exclusive franchise tag, which is worth between $32 million and $33 million. If the Ravens go this route, he could then go to other teams to get a contract. If he finds a deal with a new team, the Ravens then have a chance to match that offer or let him go with the other team in return for two first-round picks.
- Option B.) Sign him to an exclusive franchise tag, which is worth approximately $45.248 million. Now, that number could change due to new contracts of quarterbacks, but the number would be approximately $40-plus million.
And if there's any reason to believe Lamar wants out, it's his recent social media activity.
Now, before anything is said or done, this is a very interesting situation. It involves a lot, and at the top of the totem pole is the Baltimore Ravens wanting to move on from their former MVP quarterback.
Is it possible? Absolutely.
It's also possible that Jackson is emotional right now over a big playoff loss that was up in the air for a backup quarterback in Tyler Huntley. Along with that, Jackson wants a full-guaranteed contract from whoever is willing to pay it. Ever since Deshaun Watson got paid a $230 million contract with every penny being guaranteed, that's been the contract the agent-less Lamar Jackson has been pushing for.
So, if Jackson becomes available for another team, what does that list look like, and where does each team rank?
9. Tennessee Titans
While this could be seen as a sleeper pick, it'd be a surprising one for sure.
The Titans are 30th in 2023 cap space, according to Spotrac, at a whopping -$24,299,704.
So, at the bare minimum, it'd be tough for the Titans and Lamar Jackson to even start talking about signing a contract. Could they do it? Sure; there are people who spend their lives finding ways to "manipulate" cap and restructure contracts.
However, it's not incredibly likely they find a way to not only get even but also add Jackson to their books.
This past season, Mike Vrabel did it again, as he coached a battered and bruised Titans team to almost win the AFC South. So, clearly, there's talent there, and that talent isn't solely on defense.
Lamar could throw to Treylon Burks and Robert Woods, while also having a Hummer in the backfield in Derrick Henry.
Overall, Tennessee isn't a bad team, nor should it be seen as rebuilding. Retooling, sure, but not rebuilding.
The Titans could, however, get a quarterback like Derek Carr, which might be more realistic than Lamar Jackson.
That said, it's not very likely Jackson makes the switch from the Ravens to the Titans.
8. Carolina Panthers
So, again, we have a team with limited cap space in 2023 in the Carolina Panthers.
In 2023, they're looking at -$3,239,446 in cap space, according to Spotrac. For a quarterback who wants a lot of money guaranteed, Carolina might lose out on that battle.
That said, they have the trade capital, technically.
Their roster isn't awful, but it's not one I see Jackson being overly excited to play on.
D.J. Moore is nice at wide receiver; but outside that, there's not much separation between them and the Ravens besides money, which Baltimore has more of.
Plus, the Carolina Panthers have far more to be worried about than Jackson.
Their roster is lackluster, and they need to hire a new head coach.
That said, they do need a quarterback, and Jackson will technically be available if he doesn't re-sign, so the Panthers are considered for that fact alone.
Still, Jackson likely isn't going to Carolina. Save the time on making a jersey swap to post to Twitter.
7. Las Vegas Raiders
While the Las Vegas Raiders are moving on from Derek Carr and have an opening for quarterback, signing Jackson doesn't seem like the move this team is looking to make.
Could they? Absolutely. But compared to the remaining teams, it seems like an outside shot.
Getting Jackson could rely on what the Raiders get for Carr, but the return isn't likely to be anything major. Carr has been a good quarterback, but he's not one of the league's best.
One thing going for the Raiders is cap space. According to Spotrac, the Raiders have $20,852,002 of cap space in 2023. So, while it's not the astronomical number that the Chicago Bears have, it's a good base.
However, with Josh McDaniels somehow the head coach still, it's not super likely that Jackson sees that as the best spot.
All in all, while this team might have the chips to make a deal for Jackson, it doesn't seem likely. The Raiders' eye could be on an older, much less mobile quarterback to fill their vacancy.
That said, Jackson with wide receiver Davante Adams could be an incredibly fun duo to watch play together.
6. New England Patriots
On the surface, Jackson doesn't stand out as a Patriots quarterback, but it's entirely possible this team takes a shot.
It's not certain that Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots are sold on Mac Jones and/or Bailey Zappe as being their future.
Jackson, however, is a bit more proven as a former league MVP.
And with the Patriots getting an offensive makeover next season, it's definitely possible Jackson teams up with one of the best coaches of all time.
On top of that, the Patriots are fifth next season in most cap space at $44,114,524, according to Spotrac.
And, similarly to the Baltimore Ravens, the Patriots have a really talented defense, which could take some pressure off Lamar Jackson having to do everything.
The biggest hangup is the weapons in New England.
It's debatable to say the Patriots have better talent on offense than the Ravens. However, Belichick is good at bringing in talent.
There aren't that many offensive weapons this free agency, but a guy like wide receiver Deandre Hopkins could find himself going to New England and joining Jackson if that happens.
5. Baltimore Ravens
While it's possible for Jackson to return to Baltimore, the likelihood of it just doesn't add up.
He has been rather open about wanting to be paid, while Baltimore ownership has been openly critical of large guaranteed deals.
Sure, it's easy to ask, "How could the Ravens not bring back Lamar?"
But that answer can be answered with relative ease.
Yes, Jackson has done a lot for the Ravens. But at the same time, there hasn't been a plethora of postseason success with him at the helm.
The idea that the Ravens will be screwed if Lamar leaves is also silly. Having a good offensive line and good running backs doesn't only pertain to a quarterback like Lamar. That's an attractive environment for any quarterback.
Plus, year after year, the team hasn't really focused on making Lamar's job easier.
As for how much they've spent on their offense in total, they rank 27th, according to Spotrac. That includes the eight most expensive tight end in Mark Andrews. However, it gets worse after that.
The Ravens rank 28th in wide receiver spending and 14th on running back spending.
As the cherry on top, the Ravens also just gave a $100 million deal to an off-ball linebacker, while Jackson is still unsigned and watching playoff games from home instead of traveling with the team.
If the decision had to be made today, it doesn't seem likely that the Ravens and Jackson continue working together.
4. Washington Commanders
After bringing in quarterback Carson Wentz, it looked as if the Commanders were committing to an offensive future that wouldn't be too bright.
However, with Wentz missing most of 2022, there's belief he could be gone -- especially with there being a potential of an out on Wentz's contract for Washington this offseason that wouldn't involve any dead cap space.
Regardless of Jackson, it'd take a miracle for the Commanders to not cut Wentz this offseason.
This team doesn't initially seem like an attractive spot for Jackson. However, looking through their roster, the weapon side of things favors Washington.
They have Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Brian Robinson on offense, while also having a talented defense.
The issue is their cap situation.
Not only does the team only have $11,550,250 in 2023 cap space, but they also have to re-sign Daron Payne this offseason. Payne made it known he wants a payday, and that alone could take Washington out of the running.
But if they wanted to franchise-tag Payne, getting Lamar isn't completely out of the question.
3. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks are a sneaky team for this. However, the more I thought about it, the more likely it seemed.
Coach Pete Carroll has said the Seahawks want to roll with Geno Smith at quarterback, but do they really?
This season seemed like probably the best Smith could be, based on the previous years in his career. So banking on that happening again seems like wishful thinking on Seattle's part.
Their roster is good enough to be a competitive team, especially given the division they're currently in. Besides San Francisco, there's not much to be afraid of in the NFC West.
Imagine an offense with D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Noah Fant and Kenneth Walker III -- with Jackson at the helm.
Not only is their offense full of good talent, but their defense is also among the best in the league.
Along with that, the Seahawks rank seventh in 2023 cap space with $38,317,763, according Spotrac.
And, as the ultimate topper, the Seahawks have two first-round picks this season, which they could hypothetically use for Lamar if the Ravens give Jackson the non-exclusive franchise tag.
Is that what they want to use their two picks on? Who really knows? But the possibility is there.
2. New York Jets
This team makes a lot of sense for many reasons.
Since they sit right below the league average for 2023 cap space at $7,945,955, they aren't in the best spot to sign Lamar to a big, guaranteed deal.
That said, their roster is far more polished than the Baltimore Ravens' roster. Jackson could be more interested in taking a little less money -- though still guaranteed -- to have a better chance at winning.
If the New York Jets proved one thing this season, it's that they're a quarterback away from being a genuinely competitive team in the NFL.
Coach Robert Saleh has done a good job of building an impressive team with what he was handed once taking the job. Guys like Garrett Wilson, Breece Hall, Sauce Gardner, etc. were all huge additions for a team that really needed to hit on its draft picks.
However, the biggest miss of a draft pick for the Jets has undeniably been quarterback Zach Wilson.
So, if the Jets could acquire Jackson for two first-round picks, it could send their franchise in the direction they hoped Wilson would send them.
That is, if they can afford to do so.
1. Atlanta Falcons
This is the absolute favorite team for me regarding where Jackson could go. Sure, the Falcons weren't great last year -- or the year before, or the year before. But what they do have is a lot of money, some young weapons on offense, and some of the coolest retro uniforms in the league. But who knows if Jackson cares about that?
The Atlanta Falcons have the second largest cap space in 2023 with $56,374,608 -- ranking only behind the Chicago Bears.
If Jackson were to join the Atlanta Falcons, he'd have Drake London, Kyle Pitts and Tyler Allgeier as some really young weapons who can possibly be even better than what he had in Baltimore. Yes, Mark Andrews is a very good tight end for Baltimore; but outside of Andrews, the talent isn't really there. London and Pitts would be a better duo of weapons than Andrews and Rashod Bateman are in Baltimore. While some could consider the Falcons to be a rebuild, they fit more under the retool category. Rebuilding is pretty much a term only the Texans can use; they're a team with truly no blueprint.
The Atlanta Falcons are the top team in the Lamar Jackson sweepstakes as of now. And unless anything major happens between now and when Jackson makes his decision, it's going to stay that way.
Jackson will play in Hot-lanta.
MORE: Lamar Jackson's Contract Beef with Ravens Mirrors Megatron's Battle with the Lions
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