Lamar Jackson is staying put, at least for the moment, but the Baltimore Ravens are still running the rule over quarterbacks available in 2023 NFL free agency. That’s according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who reported the Ravens are “looking for flexibility” at the position, while also naming two targets who have already slipped out of their grasp:
Missing out on Baker Mayfield and Jacoby Brissett may sting a little, but it does at least given an indication of what the Ravens are looking for on the market. The search so far screams of a team trying to find a worthy backup passer, rather than an outright successor for Jackson.
Perhaps the Ravens have already exhausted their options, at least based on the decision to tender restricted free agent Tyler Huntley, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic:
Huntley was Jackson’s No. 2 last season, so his return would give the Ravens some cover at football’s most important position. Ideally, the Ravens will want a deputy signal-caller able to step in for Jackson if needed and still win games.
That contingency would be necessary if Jackson succumbed to injury again, or more to the point, if the player recently adorned with the non-exclusive franchise tag receives an offer the Ravens won’t match this offseason.
Ravens Have Options Among Veteran QBs
Brissett and Mayfield are off the market, but there are still some credible veteran quarterbacks for the Ravens to choose from. Marcus Mariota’s name stands out among the obvious candidates.
Like Jackson, he’s a former Heisman Trophy winner, and Mariota is also a dual-threat QB who can gash defenses with his legs. The 29-year-old proved he’s still a rushing threat at times last seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, including for this touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks from Week 3:
Mariota taking to the field wouldn’t require the Ravens to do much tweaking to an offense already designed around the talents of a mobile quarterback. That’s still an important consideration, even though Todd Monken has replaced Greg Roman as offensive coordinator with a view to shifting the strategy more to the pass than the run.
In that case, Teddy Bridgewater might qualify as a worthy backup for Jackson. Bridewater is efficient with the football and has starting experience from his days with the Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos.
Simply by looking at various free-agent quarterbacks, the Ravens are continuing to keep their options open while Jackson’s future still remains uncertain.
Ravens Still Need to Guard Against Lamar Jackson Exit
The Ravens want Jackson to stay, for this season at least, but the non-exclusive tag means he could still join a new team at any time during the next few months. If it happens, it’s most likely to occur before this year’s draft, since whichever team agrees a deal with Jackson would have to give up two first-round picks to acquire the 26-year-old.
First, Jackson has to receive some viable offers. If there are any, those offers are likely to come from the Indianapolis Colts or Washington Commanders, according to Zrebiec.
He noted how the Colts have cleared the deck, in terms of salary cap space, by releasing Matt Ryan and trading Stephon Gilmore to the Dallas Cowboys. Meanwhile, the Commanders now have Brissett and last year’s fifth-round pick Sam Howell as viable options.
The significant note from Zrebiec’s report concerns how the Ravens have set themselves up to match any offers Jackson receives. Specifically, the team’s decision to include void years in the restructured contracts given to running back Gus Edwards and guard Kevin Zeitler, among other moves, “could easily be taken as a sign that Baltimore is prepared to use every possible measure to protect itself against an outside offer for Jackson.”
In other words, the Ravens have the room to save money this year and in the future, should they suddenly need to accommodate a lucrative new contract for Jackson. Agreeing one of those is still the ideal scenario for all involved.