Lamar Jackson could be on the move.
With the deadline for teams to apply the franchise tag looming at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, March 7, there is a belief among several sources inside the NFL that the Baltimore Ravens could be preparing for life without Jackson.
“The Lamar Jackson conversation between the Ravens and Falcons progressed tremendously in Indianapolis,” a league source told Heavy.
The Ravens’ 3 Remaining Options With Lamar Jackson
The Atlanta Falcons have been linked to Jackson across multiple reports in recent days, especially when it comes to the Falcons as a possible suitor for the 26-year-old former MVP quarterback, if the Ravens decide to use the non-exclusive franchise tag.
Baltimore has three options when it comes to retaining Jackson in 2023; applying the non-exclusive franchise tag that carries a $32.42 million that allows teams to negotiate with Jackson at the cost of sending the Ravens two first-round picks if he signs a deal that GM Eric Decosta declines to match, use the exclusive franchise tag that costs $45.6 million, or trade Jackson.
There have been conflicting reports over the past year about whether Jackson is demanding a fully guaranteed contract, that mirrors the five-year pact worth $230 million the Cleveland Browns signed Deshaun Watson in March 2022. Cleveland inked Watson amid the quarterback’s numerous sexual assault allegations that resulted in an 11-game suspension.
Jackson won the 2019 MVP award, but is coming off an injury-shortened 2022 campaign that saw him pass for 2,242 yards with 17 touchdowns to 7 interceptions in 12 games, after suffering a sprained PCL that ended his season.
How Would Lamar Jackson Impact Atlanta Falcons?
The Falcons positioned themselves to be involved in the quarterback market this offseason, after releasing Marcus Mariota, and might very well be shopping at the top of it.
After the New Orleans Saints signed Derek Carr on March 6 to a four-year deal worth up to $150 million, and Tom Brady retired, it is assured that all four teams in the NFC South will open Week 1 of the 2023 season with a different quarterback than the one who began the 2022 campaign.
So, how might Jackson impact the Falcons?
“He’d impact the Falcons’ offense as much as he did Baltimore’s,” a veteran AFC scout told Heavy. “If there ever was a ‘force multiplier’ it’s Lamar! In that division, adding Jackson alone might be enough to get them in the playoffs.”
Atlanta held up the basement in the NFC South, finishing 7-10 in 2022, but Jackson might be exactly the quarterback to maximize a young core of offensive weapons.
The Falcons boast tight end Kyle Pitts, who became the first tight end to make the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 20 years, in 2022, and second-year wide receiver Drake London, who burst onto the scene catching 72 passes for 866 yards and 4 touchdowns.
“Lamar and I are talking,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta told reporters during the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine. “We met recently. It’s an ongoing discussion. Both (sides) understand the urgency of the situation.
“It’s been a good dialogue, a good discussion. I’m optimistic as I’ve continued to be optimistic, and we’ll see where it goes.”
From the sounds of it, the Ravens, Falcons and Jackson have been talking, too. This situation could be the next quarterback domino to fall in a frenetic offseason at the position.