Why didn’t the Falcons actually pursue Lamar Jackson this offseason?

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As the Falcons celebrate their best win of season this holiday season, the Ravens have their sights set much higher.

Arthur Smith is coaching for his job as the quarterback carousel in Atlanta continues to go around. Desmond Ridder was benched for the second time this season, giving Taylor Heinicke another shot to lead a team to the postseason.

Heinicke did all he could on Sunday against the Colts, tossing for 229 yards on 69.7% passing as the Falcons offense put together its best performance of the season, totaling 406 yards with its stars heavily involved.

On the other hand, John Harbaugh has his team looking like Super Bowl contenders behind an impressive Monday Night performance from Lamar Jackson, who tossed for 252 yards and two scores for a 105.9 passer rating.

Jackson’s performance has sparked MVP conversations, which seem a bit inflated but result in another discussion regarding the teams that didn’t pursue Lamar Jackson this past offseason.

If you remember, the Ravens placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson entering the 2023 campaign. It enabled other clubs to negotiate a contract directly with Jackson, and if he accepted a deal that Baltimore wouldn’t match, they would receive two first-round picks in exchange for Jackson.

It seems like a trivial price to pay for an MVP winner, right? Well, it’s not that simple, and I’m here to tell you that anyone who bashes the Falcons or any other club that didn’t pursue Lamar Jackson is a grifter or idiotic.

The Ravens would have the opportunity to match any offer the Falcons or any club put on the table in front of Jackson. There’s no way Arthur Blank was going to offer Jackson something that Steve Bisciotti wasn’t willing to pony up.

There was no reality that Lamar Jackson was coming to Atlanta. He was never leaving Baltimore, and the Ravens eventually gave him a five-year, $260 million deal that had $185 million guaranteed, of which $135 million was fully guaranteed at signing.

The Falcons very easily could’ve built a deal similar to that or even better potentially, but the Ravens would have just inked the deal themselves and thanked Terry Fontenot for doing all of the leg work.

Fontenot likely understood the situation and what kind of contract it would’ve taken for Eric DeCosta to balk at matching it. It would’ve been a contract that looked absolutely ridiculous in the headlines and one that would’ve financially handicapped the Falcons for years to come.

The hypothetical deal that Atlanta would’ve been comfortable giving would be one that Baltimore would also be comfortable giving. Do you see? There was never a realistic path for the Falcons to land Lamar Jackson.

Now, Arthur Smith coming out and saying they aren’t interested and are behind Desmond Ridder is another thing entirely, a fireable offense. The Falcons seemingly decided that pursuing Jackson wasn’t likely to end up with him in Atlanta and that publicly backing Ridder was the best course of action.

After all, they’d learned what pubically pushing for a quarterback could end up doing to the franchise the offseason before. The Falcons went after Deshaun Watson and ended up with egg on their face. I suppose they were trying to avoid a similar situation with Jackson because they felt it wasn’t a realistic venture.

I can’t argue with their reasoning, but maybe they should’ve thrown their weight behind someone better than a third-round pick. Arthur Smith and the Falcons look like fools, though it wasn’t because they didn’t pursue Lamar Jackson. It’s because they backed Desmond Ridder.

Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

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