Laveranues Coles believes the New York Jets will go after Baltimore Ravens’ franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson this offseason. Jackson’s a free agent, and former Jets wide receiver Coles has added his voice to the growing number of people who believe the QB-needy strugglers will make the 2019 NFL MVP an offer he can’t refuse.
Coles’ fellow ex-Jets wideout Wayne Chrebet also thinks the 7-10 AFC East club will “go after” Jackson. Chrebet’s words endorse recent reports Jets’ owner Woody Johnson will spend big to solve his team’s problem at football’s most important position, where 2021’s second-overall pick Zach Wilson was benched.
Jackson Could Have Strong Suitor
Coles, who played seven seasons during two spells with the Jets and also went to the 2003 Pro Bowl after moving to Washington, explained to The 33rd Team why his first team will move for Jackson: “That’s why they’re raising ticket prices. Because they need to go get Lamar.”
Clearing a path for Jackson could be on the agenda, but Johnson has previously shown he’s not afraid to make a splash in the market, according to Chrebet: “They’ll spend the money, and if there’s a little chance you can get someone like Lamar Jackson, and he’s someone who is available, they’ll go after him. They went after Tyreek (Hill, in free agency).”
A move for Tyreek Hill didn’t come to fruition, but Johnson sounds determined to go one better this year. The 75-year-old told Brian Costello of the New York Post he would “absolutely” stump up the cash for a top free-agent signal-caller, adding “We’ve got a cap so there’s an amount you can spend. But yeah, yeah. That’s kind of the missing piece.”
Signing a marquee quarterback is a move the Jets must make now to capitalize on their playoff window, according to SNY’s Connor Hughes. He told Inside The Pylon, “the Jets will do everything they can to position themselves to make a very, very, very compelling offer for Lamar Jackson.”
The level of offer described by Hughes would surely test the Ravens’ resolve to keep Jackson. Their resolve may be weakening amid the QB’s latest injury struggles and his desire to earn record-levels of guaranteed money in his next contract.
Bumper Offer Would Be Tough to Ignore
A franchise quarterback is only as good as the moniker as long as he’s on the field making plays and engineering victories. Unfortunately, staying on the field has been a problem for Jackson in recent years.
He missed five games with an ankle injury last season, leading to the Ravens going 0-5 and missing the playoffs. The 2022 Ravens have gone one better, despite Jackson missing another five games with a strained PCL, an ailment “expected” to keep the 26-year-old out of the Wild Card playoff matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, January 15, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Jackson confirmed his knee “remains unstable” via a message on Twitter:
If the Ravens lose another season to Jackson’s injury woes it will make it tougher to pay him the kind of bumper contract he wants. Using the franchise tag is an option at a potential cost of $32,445,000, per Over The Cap, but it’s far from the kind of long-term arrangement team and player would desire.
The sticking point appears to be how much money the Ravens are willing to guarantee in any deal. Deshaun Watson got an NFL-record $230 million rubber-stamped by the Cleveland Browns last offseason, and Jackson rebuffed a sum of “roughly between $160-$180 million” back in September, according to Schefter’s colleague Dianna Russini.
Some caution from the Ravens is understandable before they pay historic money to a starter who has proved brittle in key moments. Green-lighting that kind of outlay will be tougher after general manager Eric DeCosta gave inside linebacker Roquan Smith a record five-year deal worth $100 million with “$60M in total guarantees,” per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Not entering a bidding war for Jackson would leave the Ravens with $40,821,209 worth of salary cap space to help replace him. It may be a scenario too intriguing to ignore if the Jets enter the picture with a mega-bucks offer.