Ravens Can Replace Lamar Jackson With Former Top-10 Pick

Lamar Jackson

Getty Lamar Jackson can be replaced by a former top-10 pick.

Lamar Jackson still doesn’t have a new contract, but he’s not the only starting quarterback stalling over his next deal. That’s good news for the Baltimore Ravens, who could turn to 2023 NFL free agency and replace Jackson with New York Giants’ QB1 Daniel Jones.

It’s a possibility raised by Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports, who looked at “logical fits” for Jones, if the latter doesn’t re-sign with Big Blue. Benjamin wrote “the Ravens make sense as a run-heavy system in the event Lamar Jackson is dealt.”

Tagging and trading Jackson remains a possibility for the Ravens, while Jones is at odds with the Giants over the terms on offer. Jones, the sixth player drafted in 2019, would give the Ravens similar dual-threat skills to those owned by Jackson, but he’s also posted just one winning season and can’t match No. 8’s overall production.

NFC Starter Has Options After Breakout Season

Injuries, turnovers and playing on some weak teams all served to stymie Jones’ first three seasons in the pros, but things changed dramatically in 2022. The arrival of head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka liberated Jones to post career-highs with 317 completions and 3,205 yards through the air.

Jones also rushed for a career-best 708 yards and seven touchdowns. He enjoyed a two-touchdown day on the ground, including this designed bootleg, against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 17:

His mobility would appeal to the Ravens, who have long relied on Jackson’s mobility as a key facet of their offense. Jones would also be a seamless replacement thanks to how much success he enjoyed on RPOs last season, throwing for 240 yards and rushing for 70 more, per Pro Football Reference.

The Giants wisely crafted an offense perfectly suited to what Jones does well. They also protected him by having running back Saquon Barkley be the workhorse.

Barkley’s also a free agent, and the Giants will struggle to retain both players. Especially since Jones has already chanced his agents and may want “as much as $45 million per year,” according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

The Ravens wouldn’t necessarily jump at giving Jones that sort of money, although it would still be cheaper than rubber-stamping a lengthy and fully guaranteed contract for Jackson.

Ravens Have Alternatives to Lamar Jackson

What Benjamin’s suggestion about Jones does show is how the Ravens have alternatives to Jackson. This year’s free-agent crop has more than a few intriguing names general manager Eric DeCosta might consider worthy stop-gap quarterbacks.

They include Geno Smith, who like Jones, enjoyed is coming off a banner year. Then there’s Jimmy Garoppolo, who has the pedigree of having led the San Francisco 49ers to a pair of NFC Championship Games and an appearance in Super Bowl LIV.

All three represent cost-effective alternatives, but none of Jones, Smith, nor Jimmy G can match Jackson’s awesome natural athleticism. He’s set the benchmark for what dual-threat quarterbacks can produce:

There’s a reason he was named NFL MVP in 2019. It’s the same reason Jackson wants a “five-year, fully-guaranteed contract,” per Florio.

Jackson’s a generational talent who knows his worth and has already seen the Cleveland Browns hand Deshaun Watson $230 million fully guaranteed. Florio thinks the Ravens will avoid that sum by applying the non-exclusive franchise tag to Jackson. It would preserve the possibility of getting two first-round picks if another team makes an offer DeCosta is unwilling to match.

If Jackson digs his heels in over the guaranteed money, the Ravens know they have multiple opportunities to go in a different direction.

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