While the teams who call the AFC North home are actively keeping an eye on the free agent market as the 2023 NFL Draft approaches, the situation in Baltimore with Lamar Jackson has everyone in the league wondering what will happen to the former NFL MVP.
Will he stay in Baltimore and get a deal done?
Will he hold out of he can’t get traded?
Who would be willing to pony up the draft capital, and sign Jackson to a long term contract after doing so?
A recent ESPN article by Jamison Hensley suggested the teams who could be in the running for Jackson. It’s worth noting all of these teams might say one thing, but are actively trying to sign the former Louisville product at the same time. Nonetheless, it’s worth taking a look into for AFC North teams who wouldn’t mind seeing Jackson go elsewhere.
The Falcons say Desmond Ridder is their quarterback in 2023, but Jackson would be a massive upgrade at the most important position in professional sports. Here is what coach Arthur Smith said about the potential:
“Here is our stance on all these hypothetical questions around the league: Anytime you’re looking to improve your football team, that’s part of your job is to be aware of what’s going on and look at everything. Some of the rumors are true, some are not. We take everything into consideration.”
Seems like the Falcons might be in play.
The Panthers now possess the top overall pick in the draft, and many wonder if they’d rather go with a proven commodity than taking one of the young quarterbacks in the draft.
General manager Scott Fitterer said last week, “[Jackson’s] a great option, a really expensive option. But we’re focused on more of the draft picks at this point.”
The Panthers with Frank Reich at coach are likely going to go with the draft, but never say never.
The Lions have a quarterback in Jared Goff, and head coach Dan Campbell doesn’t seem as if the team is interested in acquiring Jackson, even though they have the draft capital to do so.
“Lamar is a heck of a talent,” coach Dan Campbell said. “But, man, we got a quarterback. And thank God we got one. So, we’re good.”
The Lions could be in the mix, but I wouldn’t count on it.
The team who most consider the front-runner in the Lamar Jackson sweepstakes would be the Indianapolis Colts. When asked about the team’s intentions, GM Chris Ballard said the team is interested in Jackson.
“Anytime a special player is available, which he is, you’ve got to do the work. But you never know how any of this will work out.” Colts owner Jim Irsay later said that teams are “always looking for great dynamic players” but said “it’s important not to compromise your future to do it.”
As stated earlier, the Colts would likely be considered the front-runner if the Ravens are able to trade Jackson.
New England Patriots
For some reason, the Patriots continue to be a team who gets mentioned when the trade rumors swirl for Jackson. How weird has it gotten? Rapper Meek Mill is somehow chiming in on the situation. Like I said, it’s weird.
“You know, Meek Mill is my friend,” Kraft said. “He texted me saying that Lamar Jackson wanted to come here. But that’s [coach] Bill [Belichick]’s decision.”
I wouldn’t suggest the Patriots are major players here.
New York Jets
The New York Jets are supposed to be trading for Aaron Rodgers, but not deal has been made yet. Could the Jets pull the rug out from under Green Bay’s feet and get into the Jackson sweepstakes? It’s doubtful.
GM Joe Douglas said his focus is on acquiring Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers and he wouldn’t pivot to Jackson to put pressure on the Packers, saying, “it would be disingenuous and negotiating in bad faith if we went down that path.”
I would say the Jets are too far down the Aaron Rodgers path to back out at this juncture.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are a really good football team, but they also have major issues at quarterback. Brock Purdy had to undergo elbow surgery, and the team seems less than enthusiastic about the potential in Trey Lance. Could they be in the mix for Jackson?
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan indicated the 49ers will not consider adding Jackson, saying, “We got three quarterbacks that we’re pretty good with right now. We’re pretty set with how we’ve built our roster salary cap-wise.”
Looks like it’s Lance, Purdy and recently acquired Sam Darnold, not necessarily in that order, for the 49ers in 2023.
The Seattle Seahawks just a gave Geno Smith a hefty contract to be the team’s starting quarterback, and that likely signifies they aren’t interested in Jackson. Head coach Pete Carroll said so himself, if you believe what he says.
Carroll said, “I couldn’t imagine him being available, and we couldn’t afford him.”
I wouldn’t think the Seahawks are major players here.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With Tom Brady gone, the thought of Tampa Bay leaning solely on Baker Mayfield and/or Kyle Trask seems risky. However, the Bucs cap situation is less than ideal, and would keep them from being a legitimate option for Jackson.
Head coach Todd Bowles said any offer that the team could make “would be an insult to a great player like that.” “We know it’s time for us to get under the cap, and he makes a lot of money,” Bowles said. “But he is a heck of a player, and I hate playing against him.”
While it would make sense in a lot of ways, I don’t think Tampa Bay can pull it off.
A dark horse in the race for Lamar Jackson might just be the Commanders. Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett make up the team’s quarterback depth chart. Not ideal under any circumstances. Could Washington make a strong play for Jackson?
General manager Martin Mayhew said: “I won’t get into specifics about him. I don’t want to sound critical of anyone. He’s a very talented guy. He’s one of the better quarterbacks in this league. But for us right now, we’re moving forward with Sam and Jacoby.”
Yeah, I’m not buying what Mayhew is selling. If the price is right, I could see the Commanders making a move to get a proven commodity.
Do you think Lamar Jackson gets traded? If so, where do you think he goes? If he doesn’t get traded, does he play for Baltimore this year? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the 2023 NFL offseason.