The Philadelphia Eagles are on a short list of possible trade destinations for Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, according to a report from Five Reasons Sports that cites an anonymous source. The Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions are the other two teams Jackson is rumored to have in mind if the Ravens don’t pony up the $230 million in guaranteed money that he’s seeking.
This raises two questions. First, how reliable is the report? Second, would it make any sense for the Eagles? That might depend on how things go this season for Jalen Hurts.
The situation in Baltimore seems tense, with Jackson foregoing traditional representation and serving as his own agent according to the Associated Press.
Jackson wants a payday in line with that of DeShaun Watson, who received $230 million in fully guaranteed money from the Browns according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Watson turned down a $290 million offer from the Ravens because it only had about $133 million guaranteed. That’s according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.
So it’s possible to see a scenario where this leads to a holdout or trade demands, although it’s hard to see the Ravens trading the 2019 MVP when they can lock him in with the franchise tag and continue negotiating. If it does come to that, then Jackson would have a lot of leverage in where he ends up, as any trade partner would need to be sure that Jackson would sign a long-term extension after the deal.
Report on Jackson Trade Destinations Appears Thinly Sourced
With all due respect to Hussam Patel of Five Reasons Sports, who originally floated this report, his source does not seem to be reliable. Patel himself writes that the same person, defined as “a source close to Jackson,” told Patel that Jackson would be signing an extension on September 5, which obviously did not happen.
That’s explained away based on the Ravens adding an incentive for a Super Bowl, but it’s hard to understand why Jackson would be on board with a contract prior to the addition of incentive-based compensation, unless the new offer also removed guaranteed money. There’s no mention of the latter.
Patel goes on to cite that source on Jackson having a list of teams that he’d be interested in going to via trade, with the list including the Eagles, Dolphins, and Lions. Two of those three make a lot of sense.
If Jalen Hurts doesn’t work out in Philadelphia, the Eagles will be in the market for a quarterback in the offseason and they have all the other pieces in place. It’s a well-run organization with a track record of success. Jackson grew up near Miami, so the Dolphins’ inclusion would make sense from that standpoint.
But it’s hard to see why Jackson would want to go to Detroit, and it’s not like there’s a long list of star players desiring trades to the Lions over the years. It’s also odd that Jackson would already be working on a list this far in advance. So many changes over the course of an NFL season, so a list now would likely need a lot of reworking by February.
So the source seems questionable and the list doesn’t make complete sense. Patel also does not have a track record of breaking news, nor does Five Reasons Sports have a track record of breaking NFL scoops – or a track record of much of anything as what appears to be a small startup that’s about four years old.
That said, the CEO of Five Reasons Sports is a veteran reporter from South Florida in Ethan Skolnick, so that does lend the outlet a bit of credibility that makes this worth considering.
Eagles May Not Have Interest in Jackson Anyway
It’s also somewhat of a leap to assume the Eagles would be interested in Jackson. Since the start of the 2021 season, Jackson has completed 284 of 441 passes (64%) for 3,413 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions, while rushing for 903 yards and 3 touchdowns on 148 attempts with 2 fumbles lost. His Ravens are 8-6 in those games, with Jackson generating 4,316 yards of offense and 25 touchdowns against 16 turnovers.
Over that same time span, Hurts has completed 283 of 464 passes (61%) for 3,387 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions, while rushing for 874 yards and 11 touchdowns on 156 attempts with 1 fumble lost. The Eagles are 9-7 in those games, and Hurts has generated 4,261 yards of offense and 27 touchdowns against 10 turnovers.
At the moment, it’s fair to say that Jackson is thought of around the league as a much better player. However, the way the statistics are trending over the last year or so, that may not even be the case by the end of the season.
Hurts is under contract through the 2023 season, at a cap hit of $1.9 million. Jackson will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $230 million guaranteed over six years, plus some incentive-based compensation. He’ll likely end up garnering near $50 million a year.
Even if the Eagles choose to extend Hurts, they’ll likely be able to get him on a deal that would be quite a bit cheaper than one for Jackson. For example, Dak Prescott’s deal averages about $40 million, Kirk Cousins garners about $35 million per year on average, and Matt Ryan is pulling down $30 million per year according to Spotrac.
Assuming the Eagles would have to trade at least their two first-round picks next year for Jackson, is that really worthwhile? It sure seems like Hurts, an extra $10-20 million a year to spend, and two first-round picks give you a better chance to build a contending team than Lamar Jackson absent the rest.
That extra cap room could be the difference between keeping both A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith for the next few years, or having to jettison one to save money.
Regardless, if the Eagles are not sold on Jalen Hurts at the end of the year and Lamar Jackson still has not been extended, then of course it makes sense for Howie Roseman to kick the tires on the situation and inquire. But as it stands right now, this report seems pretty unlikely to come to fruition.