Last offseason, the Falcons and other quarterback-needy teams were embroiled in rumors surrounding Deshaun Watson. Eventually, the Browns closed the deal with a record-breaking, fully guaranteed contract. This cycle will revolve around Lamar Jackson, so get used to reading about Atlanta as a potential destination.
The Falcons could turn to Desmond Ridder in 2023, but it’s not often that a 26-year-old MVP becomes available. If the Falcons were interested in a player with the serious baggage of Watson, the franchise will surely be interested in Jackson, who is by all accounts, a terrific person.
BALTIMORE RAVENS SEND: LAMAR JACKSON
ATLANTA FALCONS SEND: 2023 FIRST (EIGHTH OVERALL), 2023 SECOND (44TH OVERALL), 2023 THIRD (75TH OVERALL), 2024 FIRST, 2025 FIRST
If you’re counting at home, that would be three first-round picks, a second, and a third for Jackson. When the Texans traded Watson to the Browns, Cleveland sent Houston first-round picks in 2022, 2023, and 2024, including third and fourth-round picks — a very similar haul.
However, there is a scenario where the Ravens use the exclusive rights franchise tag, which would give Baltimore the ability to match another team’s offer or receive two first-round picks in exchange for Jackson — a situation that takes all of the negotiating power away from the Ravens.
Either way, on top of the draft capital, any team that lands Jackson will have to commit franchise-altering money in a new deal. It’s been reported by ESPN’s Chris Mortenson that Lamar Jackson declined a six-year offer with $133 million fully guaranteed, which would be more than Russell Wilson and Kyle Murray but well short of the $230 million guaranteed in Watson’s deal. From that same report, Jackson could’ve earned over $290 million with an average annual value exceeding Wilson’s $48.5 million AAV.
It seemed impossible the Ravens would let Lamar Jackson go a short time ago, but as this situation lingers, it seems more likely to end in a divorce. If I had to, I would wager that the Heisman winner will play for Baltimore in 2023. Teams, especially those as well run as the Ravens, don’t just let generational quarterbacks out of the door before their 27th birthday.
However, if Jackson is unwilling to budge on his demands, a scenario could unfold where the Ravens part ways with him. I’m not sure which owner would acquiesce to Jackson’s request for a fully guaranteed contract, but I imagine some owner’s desperation for relevancy will win over.
Photographer: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire