After a 6-11 season, it’s clear the Las Vegas Raiders have major needs all over the roster. However, quarterback will trump all other needs if the team moves on from Derek Carr this offseason, as his January 12 farewell to fans indicates.
The Raiders will have some veteran options in free agency but Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield don’t provide clear upgrades over Carr. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is on an expiring contract but it’s difficult to imagine he’ll actually hit free agency. Even if his future is not in Baltimore, the team will at least franchise tag him and then try to find a trade partner.
That’s when the Raiders could get involved. If they don’t like their quarterback options in free agency or the draft, Jackson could be a player they take a close look at. He was the NFL’s MVP in 2020 and remains one of the most dynamic players in the league. The Raiders currently have all of their top trade assets and could land more if they are able to trade Carr. According to Sportline’s odds, Las Vegas has the third-highest odds of any team to land Jackson, just behind the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons.
Jackson Wants Fully Guaranteed Deal
Prior to the past year, it looked like Jackson would be with the Baltimore Ravens for a long time. He’s the face of the franchise and has gone 45-16 in 61 career starts. The team has also built its entire offense around him. The Ravens are perennial Super Bowl contenders with him on the roster. However, Jackson represents himself rather than working with an agent on contract negotiations. When he tried to reach a contract extension deal with the Ravens prior to the 2022 season, the talks fell apart.
The problem is that he wants a fully guaranteed contract, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported, and “as close to $230 million as possible” — like the deal reached with Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson in March 2022. NFL teams don’t typically give players massive contracts that are fully guaranteed — Watson is the only exception currently, and the Browns were widely panned for that move.
But a fully guaranteed contract may be worth it for the Raiders if they think Jackson could change the whole dynamic of the team and drive more fans to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
Pros & Cons of Jackson on Raiders
Jackson is the polar opposite of Carr when it comes to playing quarterback. While he’s an above-average passer, what makes him special is his ability to run the ball. During the two seasons in which he started over 12 games, he’s rushed for over 1,000 yards both times. The Raiders’ offensive line isn’t very good and adding an elusive quarterback like Jackson would allow the team to spend more money fixing the defense. Adding a quarterback like Tom Brady would require the team to invest resources into upgrading the offensive line.
Jackson is also a major star and would make the Raiders one of the popular teams to watch heading into 2023. Those things matter to owner Mark Davis. However, adding Jackson isn’t without its concerns.
He wants a fully guaranteed contract but has missed nine regular season games over the last two seasons due to injury. Considering how many hits he takes rushing the ball, injuries are a real concern with him. If he has a career-altering injury on a fully guaranteed contract, that could set a team back years. For the Raiders, it might be worth the risk as they need a quarterback who can help lift them out of mediocrity.