Former Ravens Defensive End Backs Lamar Jackson for NFC Move

Lamar Jackson

Getty A former Ravens' DE is backing Lamar Jackson to move to the NFC this offseason.

Chris Canty doesn’t think Lamar Jackson will still be playing quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens during the 2023 NFL season. Instead, Canty is backing Jackson to leave M&T Bank Stadium to join the Atlanta Falcons.

Speaking on ESPN’s Get Up, Canty said: “The thing I’ll say about Lamar and Atlanta, something about that just feels right.”

Canty, who played three seasons for the Ravens, doubled down on a Jackson to the Falcons scenario one executive from the AFC outlined to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. The move would let the Ravens avoid trying to get Jackson to play on the franchise tag, while also seeing the dual-threat playmaker leave the conference, where he’d be less likely to damage his former team.

Falcons Are Best-Case Exit Scenario for Lamar Jackson, Ravens

Jackson still needs a new long-term contract, but guaranteed money has already become a sticking point between player and team. Specifically, former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark told ESPN’s First Take how Jackson rejected $133 million worth of guaranteed cash: “That was the most Lamar was offered.”

Canty, who also played for the Dallas Cowboys and won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants, was quick to respond to Clark’s report, tweeting: “About $100 million short on guaranteed dollars.”

The kind of figure Canty suggested is more in line with the $230 million in guaranteed cash the Cleveland Browns rubber stamped for Deshaun Watson last offseason. It’s a number the Ravens and general manager Eric DeCosta appear reluctant to pay.

If things stay that way, Jackson could push to test the free-agent market, rather than accept the tag. Fowler described the potential pitfalls, specifically, Jackson joining another AFC franchise: “Teams I’ve talked to see the Jets and Dolphins as good fits who might have interest, but both have one big hang-up: They play in the AFC.”

Fortunately, there’s a solution, according to one unnamed NFL scouting director, who told Fowler why the Falcons make sense: “Good running game, an offense that could be friendly to Lamar while helping him grow as a passer, big receivers with a catch radius, which he needs due to accuracy issues, young regime on an improving team looking for a quarterback solution.”

There’s a lot of merit to this argument. First, projects the Falcons will have $54,854,608 under the salary cap to make a deal happen.

Second, the Falcons operate the kind of run-first offense Jackson knows well. He’d have no trouble forming a rapport with running backs Cordarrelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier.

Finally, the big-bodied receivers the scouting director referenced, include 6’6″ tight end Kyle Pitts and 6’4″ wide receiver Drake London. The latter made 72 catches for 866 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie and already looks like the potential go-to wideout Jackson still lacks in Baltimore.

Jackson could take the Falcons to the next level, while the Ravens wouldn’t have to worry about No. 8 turning a conference rival into a Super Bowl contender. It would be a win-win for all three parties, provided DeCosta and Jackson can’t find a compromise.

Doubts Persist About Eric DeCosta Winning Over Jackson

Canty isn’t convinced DeCosta will do right by Lamar, believing the GM should have already paid his quarterback top dollar. DeCosta “created this situation when he didn’t pay Lamar after that 2020 season when Lamar was eligible for it,” according to Canty:

The reference to 2020 involves Jackson completing three seasons of his original rookie contract. He was in line for a lucrative extension, but the Ravens resisted.

It was a curious approach to take with a proven signal-caller. It’s not as if the Ravens have been spending the money they might’ve given Jackson three years ago on marquee receivers to help further Jackson’s development as a passer.

For his part, DeCosta said the Ravens’ relationship with Jackson remains “fantastic,” per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic:

DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh have made all the right noises about wanting Jackson to stay put. The next step has to be backing those words with actions, preferably moves that will make Jackson feel valued as one of the league’s premier players at his position.

If the Ravens can’t make those things happen, a team as cap-rich as the Falcons won’t hesitate to swoop.

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