Lamar Jackson is likely to have been left hurt by the Baltimore Ravens trading one of his favorite wide receivers during the first round of the 2022 NFL draft. At least that’s the view of Jackson’s former backup, who thinks the trade will hurt Jackson for more than football reasons.
Robert Griffin III spent three seasons on the roster with Jackson, and he knows how close the Raven’s starter is with his now former teammate. Griffin’s concerns appear to have been echoed by Jackson, who didn’t hold back with his reactions to the draft-day trade.
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RGIII Discusses Jackson’s Bond With Teammate
Jackson saw a friend leave the team when the Ravens sent wideout Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown to the Arizona Cardinals for a first-round pick, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Even though the deal earned the Ravens another prime selection, the 23rd-overall, Griffin outlined why Jackson may have been left hurt by the outcome:
It makes sense for Jackson to be at least slightly miffed. He and Brown formed a natural rapport on and the field.
Their connection on it helped yield Brown’s first 1,000-yard season in the pros in 2021. He caught 91 passes for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns. Some of those yards were accrued without Jackson, who missed five games through injury last season.
Jackson needs a bounce-back year, but this is hardly the ideal preparation. Especially when the player still hasn’t agreed a long-term contract extension with the Ravens.
Jackson’s Future Still Uncertain
Any sign of unhappiness from Jackson should worry the Ravens when he’s set to play on the fifth-year option of his original rookie deal. Any extension is still pending, but nothing has yet been agreed, so the issue is looming over both player and team.
Trading away Brown is unlikely to give Jackson cause to bolt. Not when general manager Eric DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh told their quarterback about the deal in advance, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.
Brown also confirmed during an appearance on I Am Athlete Tonight on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio, via reporter Dov Kleiman, he’d told Jackson about his desire to find a new team and asked for a trade:
Jackson may make his peace with this trade, but he’ll likely have a tougher time accepting the Ravens not replacing Brown. It’s not happened so far during a draft where DeCosta has otherwise scored high marks for taking tough players.
The Ravens were awarded an A grade from NFL.com Draft Analyst Chad Reuter for their selections of edge-rusher David Ojabo and nose tackle Travis Jones in Rounds 2 and 3. They were good picks, but Jackson could be forgiven for thinking where’s the help at receiver?
Answers should be provided on the draft’s final day, particularly during the fourth round, where ESPN’s Jamison Hensley noted the Ravens have a significant haul of picks:
There will still be receiving help on the board. Prospects like Memphis wideout Calvin Austin III and Kalil Shakir of Boise State have been highlighted by USA Today’s Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz among the best remaining available players.
Jackson will need at least one gifted pass-catcher added to a receiving corps thinner without Brown. Tight end Mark Andrews is still a major threat, while Rashod Bateman flashed potential as a rookie last season. There isn’t much to count on beyond those two, though.
Jackson’s development and future will depend on the quality of talent within his supporting cast. Like Griffin, Jackson took the NFL by storm as a Heisman Trophy winner with dual-threat skills.
Since then, the 2019 league MVP has proven his skills as a passer and a quarterback fully capable of delivering a championship. It’s why the Ravens want to strike a new deal and also why DeCosta and Harbaugh must put the right weapons around the face of the franchise.