The Draft Network poses this Falcons trade for Lamar Jackson

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In the Draft Network’s post-combine mock draft, they don’t have the Falcons selecting at all in the first round. They have Atlanta giving up the 8th overall pick and a lot more to poach Lamar Jackson away from the Ravens.

BAL receives: Pick No. 8, Pick No. 45, 2024 1st round pick, 2024 2nd round pick
ATL receives: Lamar Jackson

There was not a shred of good news about the Lamar Jackson situation—or the Ravens’ franchise in general—at the NFL Combine. So, in this NFL mock draft, let’s consider what a Jackson trade might look like. Getting two firsts and two seconds is a more than reasonable ask, and I can see other picks getting thrown in as well. The Falcons land a star QB to help them rise to the top of the NFC South, and the Ravens get a chance to reset after not coming to terms with Jackson.

Baltimore has a handful of CBs set to reach free agency and they need to find a young complement to Marlon Humphrey. Christian Gonzalez is my CB1 and I think will be the overall CB1 on draft day. His speed and length will be valuable assets for a Ravens team that will need to rely on running the ball and playing defense to survive in the AFC North.

As I wrote about yesterday, the Lamar Jackson situation is coming to a critical juncture. By 4:00 PM, the Ravens will have to tag him, which they will do, but the question remains which type of tag they will use on him.

In this hypothetical, it assumes the Ravens are placing the exclusive rights franchise tag on Jackson. That means other organizations are not free to negotiate with the Ravens quarterback, but it doesn’t 100% guarantee that he will be in Baltimore next season. If the Ravens feel a long-term extension is unlikely, they could still place the exclusive right franchise tag on Jackson and then trade him before the start of the season, which would ensure much much capital in a trade. With the non-exclusive rights franchise, they can only receive two first-round picks if they don’t match the offer sheet he signs.

I remain skeptical that the Ravens will actually let a 26-year-old former MVP walk out the door, and I’m even more skeptical that this kind of move will benefit the Falcons in the long run. Jackson is box office, but he’s looking for a fully guaranteed contract that will pay him north of $50 million per year. That will hamstring the Falcons financially, and they will have an even more difficult time building around him after parting ways with two first-round picks and two second-round picks.

Jackson is a superstar that will help the Falcons potentially win the NFC South. It will also help put butts in seats every Sunday. However, winning a Super Bowl with him in Atlanta could be impossible, given all they would have to give up to get him in a Falcons uniform. If I’m Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith, and I’m not a believer in Desmond Ridder as the long-term answer, I would much rather give up that capital to move up in the draft and select the desired quarterback prospect. On a rookie contract, it will be much easier for the Falcons to build around someone like Bryce Young, Will Levis, Anthony Richardson, or C.J. Stroud.

Photo: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

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