Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and potential Indianapolis Colts trade rumors have picked up steam in recent days, as Jackson announced that he requested a trade on March 2.
Colts wide receivers coach Reggie Wayne, who recently announced he’s returning for his second season in that role, has been closely monitoring the Jackson saga.
He addressed the Jackson to Indianapolis rumors on March 30, acknowledging he is tired of Colts fans tweeting him about Jackson and being jokingly candid about his influence on the front office.
“Will y’all stop @’n me to tell the Colts to get Lamar,” Wayne tweeted. “I have no way of making your wish come true. Hell… I’m still trying to get my kids to listen to me… Let alone [an] organization.”
While Wayne has a backseat in the Jackson situation, Colts general manager Chris Ballard and owner Jim Irsay are taking it on.
On March 27, Ballard said the team values and thinks of Jackson highly but did not reveal if the team would potentially trade for him, while Irsay said he “does not believe in fully-guaranteed contracts” — something Jackson is looking for in a new deal.
Analysts Assess Jackson’s Situation
ESPN’S Jeremy Fowler wrote in a story that given the uncertainty surrounding Jackson, the draft could “serve as an inflection point for other teams” depending on how early quarterbacks fly off the board. He also noted that the long-term deal deadline is July 17 this offseason, giving teams “plenty of time: to evaluate options.
For those reasons, Fowler said he doesn’t expect Jackson to settle on a permanent home in the near future.
“From everything I’ve heard, Jackson is principled on this — it’s not just a matter of securing as many millions as possible, but setting the proper market commensurate with his skill set, thus helping future players in this situation,” Fowler said.
That “market commensurate” is a recurring theme Jackson has tried to pivot towards this offseason given his fully-guaranteed money demands.
And in the same story, ESPN’S Dan Graziano wrote that those contract talks are the main issue behind Jackson’s stalemated situation. Graziano said that after his time at the NFL Owners Meetings, he no longer believes Jackson wants a fully-guaranteed deal.
“I no longer believe Jackson was insisting that his deal be fully guaranteed — just that the guaranteed portion of it be larger than [Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun] Watson’s,” Graziano said. “But I also get the sense from my sources that Jackson is irked by some of the Ravens’ negotiating tactics, including some of the specific language in their offers last year, and that he’s eager to see what other teams have to offer.”
Ultimately, the sense that Graziano gets from the whole situation is that the Ravens are exhausting their options to keep Jackson around.
“Baltimore holds the cards because of the franchise tag and could, in the end, match any offer sheet or refuse to trade him,” Graziano wrote.
The Colts’ Financial Situation if a Jackson Trade Happened
Co-founder of Spotrac Michael Ginnitti tweeted on March 30 that the Colts would need to free up at least $12 million in cap space to take over Jackson’s $32.4 million franchise tag.
The Colts also have the eighth-highest amount of cap space in the NFL, according to Spotrac ($20.9 million).
In order to get there, the team made two moves to put it in a position to potentially trade for Jackson.
The Colts expectedly moved on from 2022 starting quarterback Matt Ryan on March 14, which freed up more than $17 million in cap space. Earlier that day, the team traded cornerback Stephon Gilmore to the Dallas Cowboys, which cleared another $10 million.
Ginnitti followed up his initial tweet with a reply, noting that if Jackson is traded, he would first have to sign his non-exclusive franchise tag. Then, the trade would be processed at a $32.4 million cap hit.
The new team would have until July 15 to finalize a contract extension.