Lamar Jackson is the most important player for the Baltimore Ravens, but is he too important to turn down “multiple first-round picks,” including a top-10 selection in the 2023 NFL draft?
That’s what the Ravens could fetch from the Atlanta Falcons in a trade scenario outlined by Marcus Mosher of Pro Football Focus. He chose Jackson’s destination based on the Ravens wanting to deal him outside the AFC if they can’t agree a new contract: “The Falcons make a ton of sense considering they own the No. 8 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and need a quarterback. The Ravens would be able to acquire multiple first-round picks to rebuild their offense.”
While the trade would make the Falcons “favorites to win the NFC South,” the Ravens would get enough draft capital to rebuild key areas of the roster and quickly move on from Jackson. It’s an intriguing idea, but one that hinges on the Ravens choosing to franchise tag Jackson if talks over a new deal stall.
Ravens Must Control Any Lamar Jackson Trade Market
Jackson will be a free agent if there’s no new contract and the Ravens don’t tag him. General manager Eric DeCosta would be reluctant to use the tag, given the cost involved, with Ari Meirov of The 33rd Team outlining fees of $32,416,000 and $29,504,000 for the franchise and transition tags respectively:
Using the more expensive, non-exclusive tag would guarantee the Ravens two first-round picks if another team made Jackson an offer DeCosta then declined to match. The problem with this approach is the Ravens would have less control over which team Jackson decided to join, meaning he could end up playing for an AFC rival.
That’s a likely scenario, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who revealed AFC East foes the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets are “good fits who might have interest.”
The Dolphins are a popular pick as an “ideal landing spot” for Jackson, based on wide receiver Tyreek Hill and head coach Mike McDaniel. A contrasting view is offered by former Ravens defensive end Chris Canty, who thinks Jackson playing for the Falcons “just feels right.”
Atlanta would be a better destination for the Ravens, provided DeCosta applies the non-exclusive tag and informs teams he’s ready to listen to offers. Then the Ravens would be able to command exactly what they’d get for Jackson.
Recent history suggests they’d receive a trade haul too good to resist.
Lamar Jackson Trade Haul Would Be Tough to Reject
Not everybody is a fan of the idea of tagging and trading Jackson. Part of the problem is an uninspiring list of alternatives available on the veteran market, per Jonas Shaffer of The Baltimore Banner: “Other than perhaps the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, the NFL’s top passers aren’t for sale. The lower-tier quarterbacks who could be available in free agency or a trade — Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr, Ryan Tannehill — have obvious limitations.”
Shaffer also noted how teams have struggled after dumping quality starters in recent seasons: “The Detroit Lions fell from 16th to 29th in offensive efficiency, according to Football Outsiders, after trading away Matthew Stafford following the 2020 season. The Houston Texans ranked 13th in 2020, Deshaun Watson’s final active season with the team, and finished in the bottom three each of the next two seasons. The Patriots dropped 12 spots after Tom Brady left following the 2019 season.”
That’s the case against, but recent trades also show how much teams can get for quality signal-callers. The Seattle Seahawks received two first-round picks, two second-rounders and a fifth-round choice, along with defensive tackle Shelby Harris, tight end Noah Fant and quarterback Drew Lock in exchange for Russell Wilson.
All the Seahawks did was go from last in the NFC West into the playoffs after the trade. Seattle is also well set to ensure their turnaround lasts more than a single season thanks to all that draft capital. It’s a similar story for the Houston Texans, who own multiple first-round picks the next two years after sending DeShaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns for five picks last offseason.
Having an extra pick in Round 1 would let the Ravens draft Jackson’s immediate successor. There’s some dispute over who is the consensus top QB in this class, with Trevor Sikkema of Pro Football Focus sending Alabama’s Bryce Young to the Texans first overall, but leaving Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud on the board until the ninth pick.
The Ravens could take the Falcons’ original pick and pinch Stroud, who PFF College’s Mike Renner credits with the accuracy and anticipation to thrive in the NFL” in this scenario:
Alternatively, both The 33rd Team and Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports have Anthony Richardson still on the board when the Panthers pick. Taking the Falcons’ selection would put the Ravens ahead of Carolina and still leave DeCosta with the 22nd pick to add more talent at either wide receiver, pass-rusher, cornerback or running back.
The Ravens have just five picks this year and no second-rounder after the in-season trade with the Chicago Bears for linebacker Roquan Smith. Making the right deal for Jackson would help the Ravens get that pick back and boost their overall number of choices at both ends of the draft.
It might be too tempting to turn down if contract talks with Jackson continue to bear no fruit.