Free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. signing with the Baltimore Ravens on a 1-year deal has changed the trajectory of the team’s wide receiver room.
It turns out, the move could also affect another team: the Indianapolis Colts, including their chances in the sweepstakes to acquire Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport said on “The 33rd Team” on April 6 that he thinks Jackson will most likely sign a new contract with the Ravens. While that still has not happened, Jackson has had a substantial influence on Beckham Jr. signing to become Baltimore’s new top receiving target.
“This is really what Lamar Jackson has been looking for in his recruitment of Odell Beckham Jr. and the two are friends, by the way,” Rapoport said during an NFL Network broadcast on April 10. “But there was a clear understanding that when they talk about the quarterback that’s going to be throwing passes to Odell, that it’s probably going to be Lamar.”
Jackson, who requested a trade from the Ravens in March, could have joined Indianapolis or another team via a signed offer sheet or a franchise tag-and-trade scenario, according to Rapoport.
Instead, it now appears Beckham Jr.’s new deal is directly impacting Jackson’s future, as the road to signing Jackson has become even more difficult for the Colts.
After Beckham Jr. put pen to paper, he and Jackson celebrated the deal in Miami, according to Rapoport.
‘Zero Indication’ Another Team Signs Lamar Jackson
Since the 2019 NFL MVP has been placed on a non-exclusive franchise tag, teams have been able to propose a trade for him or sign him to an offer sheet. Rapoport said he does not expect that to happen at this point.
“Now, I guess a crazy thing that could happen is some team could sign him to an offer sheet — we’ve had zero indication that could be the case,” Rapoport said.
The Ravens entered the offseason hoping to retain Jackson as a first-and-foremost priority. While things seemed rocky for Baltimore (especially as Indianapolis-Jackson trade rumors gained traction), Rapoport said everything is pointing towards Jackson remaining a Raven for at least one more year.
“All signs point to (Jackson) being the Ravens quarterback next year in some form or fashion, either under the tag or a new contract,” Rapoport said.
As Rapoport noted, Jackson could return to Baltimore under the franchise tag for a near-$32.5 million cap hit. Another option is an extension (which must be reached by July 17), which remains a possibility due to Jackson’s previous demands for fully guaranteed money.
Ian Rapoport Adds Insight on Colts’ Pre-Draft Trade Scenarios
The Colts, who currently hold the No. 4 pick in the NFL draft, debated trading up earlier this offseason. But the team hesitated after inquiring about a potential trade for No. 1, as Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported that the Colts were not ready to settle on a surefire starting rookie quarterback.
Because of that, the Carolina Panthers traded from No. 9 to No. 1 with the Chicago Bears last month. That gave Rapoport some more clarity on the Colts’ quarterback situation, which he spoke about with Joey Mulinaro on “The 33rd Team.”
“(Colts general manager Chris Ballard) didn’t seem very much in the mix for the No. 1 pick trade, to be honest,” Rapoport said. “I know maybe he had a conversation, but he didn’t seem like one of the teams that were really battling for it.”
Rapoport believes Ballard “probably isn’t head over heels” with one of the top prospects in Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud. Rather, Rapoport said he thinks Ballard has an interest in a prospect who is not a top-two consensus projection, such as Kentucky’s Will Levis or Florida’s Anthony Richardson.
“Maybe he’s like, ‘Hey, this is the guy that I like, Levis or Richardson, and he’s going to get to me so I’m not worried about it,’” Rapoport said of Ballard.
Ballard has been patient in searching for the team’s next quarterback this offseason. The team recently conducted workouts for each of the projected top four quarterbacks in the draft.
Although Colts owner Jim Irsay will not necessarily have the main say about the team’s decision at quarterback, he has repeatedly expressed interest in drafting and developing a rookie signal caller. The team has started different veteran quarterbacks each of the last four seasons since Andrew Luck’s retirement.