With the Baltimore Ravens having officially placed the franchise tag on quarterback Lamar Jackson, we’ve moved into a crucial phase of the process. For the first time in his career, Jackson is able to speak to other teams (or at least he will be on March 13, the start of the tampering window).
Never before has he ever had the opportunity to gauge his outside interest (which has been curiously eager to broadcast its absence), which means the possibility exists more than ever that his future may deviate away from the Ravens organization. That is not the message they have conveyed, shockingly.
“It’s not like we didn’t know we might be in this position. Last year at this time, we talked about it, so we’ve had a full year to really discuss all the different plans. We’ll make the right decision”, he said during the Combine.
“We’ve probably made more trades than just about any other team in the league. Maybe we’re second”, he added. “That being said, I covet great players. I covet quarterbacks. And I love Lamar. So that has not factored in one time with me”.
Of course, it’s rare that a team ever broadcasts its openness, let alone intention, to trade a player on their roster. In fact, it’s typically the exact opposite. We’ve heard any number of teams adamantly express every intention to retain a player only to trade him a short time later.
I have a hard time seeing that happen in the Jackson situation, primarily due to his alleged contract demands, but ultimately there will come a point in time where whatever the best offer will be is out there. And it may not be the Ravens’ offer.
Remember, a team doesn’t have to simply acquire Jackson via an offer sheet and give up two first-round picks. Rather than risk having Baltimore match their offer, they can work out a trade with the Ravens (which would in all likelihood cost more than two first-round picks, admittedly).
If they reach a point at which they feel they’re at a stalemate with Jackson and there is no path forward on a long-term deal, then it would seem to make sense to give legitimate consideration to the possibility of a trade, unless they’re convinced they can win this year and that he would play under the tag.
And would he play under the tag? Under the cheaper, non-exclusive tag? I don’t think that’s anywhere close to a sure thing. Indeed, I might even say it’s more likely not to happen. If he is unwilling, allegedly, to compromise on anything that isn’t a fully guaranteed deal, it’s hard to imagine he’d settle for one year.