ESPN: Teams Interested In Pursuing Lamar Jackson, But Via Trade With Ravens, Not Offer Sheet

The fact that several NFL teams leaked to the media after the Baltimore Ravens placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Lamar Jackson that they would not be pursuing him raised a fair few eyebrows. Any team is of course free to pursue or not pursue any player they wish, provided that it is allowed in the CBA. But to some it felt like some coordination behind it.

After all, how could it be that no team in the league has any interest in inquiring about a former league MVP franchise quarterback? It beggars belief that seemingly the most quarterback-needy teams in the league couldn’t be bothered to make a phone call.

Well, they can start picking up the phone now. But some believe it might be the Ravens teams are calling more than Jackson himself. Because while the non-exclusive franchise tag affords team the ability to negotiate directly with players, it is believed that in this case a team-to-team trade may be preferable and more realistic, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN, in an Insider article:

Based on the conversations I’ve had, there are teams interested in pursuing a potential Jackson trade if he decides he wants out of Baltimore, but I don’t know that you’ll see anyone submit a formal offer sheet that puts two first-round draft picks at risk if the Ravens don’t match. I think teams would rather talk to the Ravens about a more traditional trade, though of course they’d also at some point have to talk to Jackson because he’d have to sign the franchise tender before he could be traded

This might require some parsing because it’s not the two first-round picks that teams would balk at—surely they would have to pay even more to get the Ravens to give him up. The concern is, first, the five-day period Baltimore would have to decide whether or not to match an offer, during which time the inquiring team’s money would be held up.

Second, if the Ravens do match the offer, then you’re merely doing their legwork for them. And personally, it’s kind of hard for me to imagine them not matching any offer that doesn’t blow up the quarterback pay scale and isn’t fully guaranteed. I wouldn’t even be shocked at a five-year, $250 million deal with $200 million guaranteed.

If you’re working with the Ravens, then you know where you stand and what you’re working on. Of course you have to work with Jackson, too, because if he’s not willing to sign the deal you offer, then it pretty much defeats the purpose.

But the point is, according to Graziano, there are teams out there who are interested, under the right circumstances. It’s just that there are certain advantages to seeking a trade rather than an offer sheet that puts two first-round picks at risk and which might end up being matched.

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