AFC Rival Named ‘Ideal Landing Spot’ for Ravens’ Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson

Getty An AFC rival is the "ideal landing spot" for Lamar Jackson if he leaves the Ravens in 2023.

Lamar Jackson will have no shortage of suitors if he decides to walk away from the Baltimore Ravens and test free agency this offseason. His ideal landing spot would be the Miami Dolphins, according to Oliver Connolly of The Guardian.

Connolly identified the Dolphins as a fit for Jackson based on the 26-year-old having the chance to “be surrounded by more firepower than at any point in his career – and he would be working with an offensive guru who’s at the cutting edge of where the league is going.”

It’s a strong argument, especially since the Dolphins have a notable recent history of making splash moves. The franchise also has no interest in bringing Tom Brady back to the AFC East.

Both of those things could spell trouble for the Ravens as they prepare to try and agrre a new long-term contract with Jackson.

Dolphins May Prefer Lamar Jackson Over Tom Brady

The Dolphins won’t go after Brady if the 45-year-old opts against returning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Instead, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported “the Dolphins are committed to Tua Tagovailoa as their starting quarterback for 2023.”

Connolly is not as convinced the Dolphins will stand by Tua Tagovailoa after the 24-year-old suffered multiple concussions this season. Tagovailoa will miss the Pro Bowl because he remains in concussion protocol over a month after his last injury against the Green Bay Packers, per Schefter’s colleague Marcel-Louis Jacques.

Those injury issues may prompt Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross to look Jackson’s way, according to Connolly. There are ample reasons why Jackson might return any glances from Miami.

First, the “firepower” Connolly referenced includes a pair of elite wide receivers. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are both explosive playmakers who made a habit of stretching the field in 2022, something proved by numbers from Pro Football Focus:

Jackson doesn’t have a wideout with the same game-breaking talents as Hill or Waddle. Nor does he have the luxury of working with a play-caller at the “cutting edge” of today’s offenses.

Dolphins’ head coach Mike McDaniel designs a scheme based upon moving pockets, bootleg runs and quick, first-read throws. All of those things would suit Jackson’s dual-threat skills.

So would McDaniel’s preference for targeting the middle of the field, with Next Gen Stats showing how effective Tagovailoa became in this area:

McDaniel developed and refined his system while on Kyle Shanahan’s staff with the San Francisco 49ers. Former Cleveland Browns executive and New England Patriots assistant Michael Lombardi believes Jackson would be “unbelievable” playing for the Niners.

Joining the Dolphins would be just as good for Jackson, but it’s a nightmare scenario the Ravens should strive to avoid.

Ravens Can’t Let Franchise Player Join AFC Rival

If Jackson isn’t going to remain a Raven, general manager Eric DeCosta must make sure the dynamic QB1 doesn’t suit up for another AFC team. Putting off the Dolphins won’t be easy, though, not after Ross rubber-stamped sending five draft picks, including a first-rounder, to the Kansas City Chiefs for Hill last offseason.

A move on this scale means the Dolphins wouldn’t be afraid to offer the two first-round picks needed to acquire Jackson if DeCosta used the non-exclusive franchise tag. They would have to be first-rounders in 2024 and ’25 because the Dolphins forfeited this year’s opening-round selection after an NFL investigation found they’d tampered with Brady while he was still a member of the Pats.

DeCosta would ideally want immediate, first-round recompense for dealing Jackson. Especially since using the non-exclusive tag will cost $32,445,000, according to Over the Cap. That’s a hefty sum for a Ravens franchise projected by to have $28,963,873 worth of space.

If the tag is used, expect DeCosta to go the exclusive route and prevent a good team fit like the Dolphins from speaking to Jackson.

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