Colts General Manager Does Not Rule Out Trading For Lamar Jackson

Ravens QB Lamar Jackson

Getty Chris Ballard told reporters that the team will "do the work" to explore adding Ravens QB Lamar Jackson.

The Indianapolis Colts have cycled through one veteran quarterback after the other in search of their next face of the franchise or at least a competent field general capable of taking their talented roster on a title run following the abrupt retirement of former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck prior to the 2019 season.

However, all of the recycled veteran stopgaps pale in comparison to Baltimore Ravens star signal-caller Lamar Jackson who is essentially a free agent after the team placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on him on March 7.

This allows the Colts and any other interested team to reach out to the self-represented 26-year-old and attempt to negotiate terms on an offer sheet that the Ravens can either match or opt not to and received a pair of first-round picks in exchange.

After Jackson went public with his request for a trade from the team, Colts general manager Chris Ballard was asked by reporters at the annual league meetings if his team would do their due diligence on exploring the option of signing him to an offer sheet.

“Anytime a special player is available – which he is — you gotta do the work,” he said on Monday, March 27, 2023. “I’m not gonna get into deep discussions on where it’s at, what we’re doing, or what we might do, but he’s a really special player. You never know how any of this will work out.”

Indianapolis has been named as a potential landing spot for Jackson for a couple of months including by the Heavy’s Matt Lombardo in a recent article listing the best fits for the two-time Pro Bowler.

“Pairing new head coach Shane Steichen with Jackson, following Steichen’s influence over the past two seasons helping develop Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts into an MVP front-runner in 2022 could vault the Colts into the forefront of the conversation in the AFC,” Lombardo wrote.

Ballard’s team has gone up against the Jackson-led Ravens twice since he entered the league and are 0-2 with the last outing being one of the quarterback’s best of his career when he orchestrated an incredible comeback to force and ultimately win in overtime 31-25 in Week 5 of the 2021 season on Monday Night Football.

Award-Winning Rapper Tells Owner Jackson Wants to Join Patriots

The league sent out a memo to all teams on Thursday, March 23, 2023, issuing a warning to refrain from engaging in any possible contract negotiation talks with an uncertified representative by the name of Ken Francis on Jackson’s behalf.

After revealing that he was no more than just a business partner in a separate venture, Jackson quickly clapped back and vehemently refuted the claim that Francis was in any way involved in his other business dealings.

However, one name they left off of the memo but has reportedly been advocating or at least expressing Jackson’s interest to find a new home is award-winning rapper, Meek Mill, who recently told New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft that the All-Pro quarterback wants to migrate to the AFC East per the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin.

The 81-year-old billionaire and the 35-year-old two-time Grammy Award nominee are close friends but Kraft responded by differing all roster decisions to head coach and general manager Bill Belichick.

Jackson Trade Request Continues Concerning Trend for Ravens

This latest development on the contract negotiation front marks the fourth straight year that the team has had a highly drafted or prominent offensive player want out of town because they felt underutilized, underappreciated, or wanted a fresh start elsewhere.

In the 2020 offseason following the 2019 season, former first-round tight end Hayden Hurst who the team selected ahead of Jackson in the 2018 NFL Draft at No. 25 overall out of South Carolina requested a trade. He had fallen behind on the depth chart behind starter Mark Andrews who was fresh off his first Pro Bowl season and was dealt to the Atlanta Falcons along with a 2020 fourth-round pick in exchange for a 2020 second and fifth-round pick.

The team used the second-rounder from that deal to select running back J.K. Dobbins who has been highly productive and explosive when healthy. However, it left a glaring hole at the second pass-catching tight end spot that they were finally able to fill this past season with standout rookie Isaiah Likely.

In the 2021 offseason, former third-rounder turned Pro Bowl offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr requested a trade after he got his first crack at being a starting left tackle during the second of the 2020 season after All-Pro Ronnie Stanley was lost for the year to injury. Instead of going back to the right side where he had begun his career, Brown Jr. wanted to go to a team where he could fulfill his and his father’s dream of him being a starting left tackle in the league permanently.

The Ravens obliged his request and were able to send him to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for a draft haul that included the first-rounder they used to select outside linebacker Odafe Oweh and the third-rounder used to take starting left guard candidate Ben Cleveland. However, in the ensuing season, Stanley only appeared in one game, and their offensive tackle depth, or rather lack thereof, cost them dearly in the second half of the year after the team got off to a hot 8-3 start.

In the 2022 offseason despite coming off his most productive season as a pro, former first-round wide receiver Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown requested a trade after a couple of years of being unhappy with his role on the offense. He became the first Ravens wideout to reach 1,000-plus receiving yards when he finished the 2021 season with a career-high 1,008 yards and 91 receptions that included 6 touchdowns according to Pro Football Reference.

After the team opted not to address the position in the draft after trading him to the Arizona Cardinals on its first night, their gamble of putting all their eggs in the Rashod Bateman basket backfired too when the 2021 first-rounder suffered a season-ending foot injury. The position group continued to get more banged up and be less and less productive down the stretch. The team is now in yet another offseason where they desperately need upgrades and reinforcements at the position.

Veteran safety Chuck Clark also requested a trade last offseason but that was in response to the Ravens bringing in two notable additions at his position via free agency and the draft. He was able to keep his starting job for one more year but was officially traded to the New York Jets at the start of the new league year on March 15, 2023.

The three aforementioned examples of highly drafted and prominent players getting dealt elsewhere only to have it backfire on the Ravens in the ensuing season is a concerning trend that they can’t afford to continue with Jackson. He plays the most important position in all of sports and has been the main catalyst for the vast majority of their success since entering the league as the last pick in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at No. 32 overall out of Lousiville.

Any contingency plan short of getting Patrick Mahomes or a select few other elite-level quarterbacks that aren’t attainable would more than likely result in the Ravens taking a major stepback not just in their division but from the realm of legitimate contenders altogether.

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