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Everything you need to know about the Lamar Jackson situation and potential landing spots

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson remains without a contract. The former NFL MVP is technically a free agent after Baltimore placed the franchise tag on him earlier in the NFL offseason.

At this point, Jackson has yet to sign the franchise tag tender. There’s absolutely no telling whether he plans on doing that moving forward. What we do know is that Jackson and his organization have been at odds regarding contract extension talks for more than a calendar year.

Things could potentially be hitting a boiling point here after Baltimore placed the aforementioned tag on the agent-less Jackson. As this entire process plays out in real time, let’s check in on what is happening while focusing on some important questions and major updates.

Related: Lamar Jackson and the top 2023 NFL free agents

Latest updates on Lamar Jackson contract situation: QB requests a trade

lamar jackson contract situation
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
  • Jackson took to social media on March 27 with an open letter to fans. In it, the former NFL MVP noted that he had requested a trade earlier in the month because the Ravens have “not been interested in meeting my value.” It remains to be seen whether Baltimore is discussing potential trades with other teams.
  • Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported recently that Jackson is ready to move on from the Ravens. Apparently, a representative of Jackson has contacted more than one team “in an effort to sparks negotiations.”

What Lamar Jackson’s franchise tag means

It’s relatively simple in the grand scheme of things. Baltimore opted to place the non-exclusive tag on Jackson, meaning that he’s eligible to talk with other teams during NFL free agency.

Baltimore has the right of first refusal. In layman’s terms, it can match any offer made to Jackson by another team. If Baltimore opts against matching said offer, it receives two first-round picks from the team who signs Jackson.

  • Lamar Jackson franchise tag value: $32.42 million

Under NFL rules, teams who do not have a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft (Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers as two examples) can’t sign Jackson to an offer sheet. Said compensation heading back to Baltimore in this scenario would be first rounders in 2023 and 2024.

Related: Latest on Lamar Jackson, Aaron Rodgers and the NFL rumor mill

Can the Baltimore Ravens still trade Lamar Jackson?

lamar jackson contract situation
Jessica Rapfogel-USA TODAY Sports

This is where it gets a bit complicated. Technically, yes. Jackson could simply sign his $32.42 million franchise tag tender as a way to help facilitate a trade to another team. He would then be under contract with the Ravens.

The complexities here include Baltimore then signing Jackson to a long-term contract for another team. The Ravens and that unnamed team would then have to come to terms on assets heading back to Maryland.

It’s similar to when the Green Bay Packers placed the franchise tag on star wide receiver Davante Adams last offseason, only to trade him to the Las Vegas Raiders for a first-and-second-round pick. Now that Jackson has officially requested a trade, this possibility has increased more.

Is Lamar Jackson demanding a fully guaranteed contract?

We’ve read reports throughout the process that Jackson is indeed asking for a guaranteed deal similar to what Deshaun Watson received from the Cleveland Browns last offseason.

Jackson’s camp has pushed back against this on a near never-ending loop. With that said, it could be all about semantics. The aforementioned report from Florio notes that he would like a deal worth north of $200 million in fully guaranteed cash with a potential void year that makes it look not fully guaranteed.

In addition to there being a common belief around the NFL that Baltimore will match any offer for Lamar Jackson, this could be one of the reasons there’s been a slow-moving market for the generational quarterback talent. Cleveland received a ton of criticism for handing Watson the largest fully guaranteed deal in NFL history. Owners don’t want this to become a trend.

Related: Lamar Jackson and the best NFL QBs of 2023

Lamar Jackson stats

YearComp %Passing yardsRushing YardsTDINTQB rating
Lamar Jackson career stats

Ranking potential Lamar Jackson destinations

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

It still makes sense for Jackson to return to Baltimore for a sixth season. A majority of quarterback-needy teams didn’t view chasing after him as a realistic possibility before his trade request. Even then, there’s a scenario in play that suggests Jackson could shock the world by moving on to another organization. We rank these possibilities below.

1. Indianapolis Colts

Indy is one team that has been linked to Jackson a ton in recent weeks. It makes sense. General manager Chris Ballard has dealt with veteran stopgap after veteran stopgap since Andrew Luck’s shocking retirement ahead of the 2019 season. Signing Gardner Minshew does nothing to change this.

The Colts could simply sign Jackson to an offer sheet, exhausting their first-round pick in 2022 (fourth overall) and a first rounder in 2023. The hope here is that the picks would be too much for Baltimore to match said offer sheet. As an aside, boisterous Colts owner Jim Irsay has not been quiet about the need to acquire a true franchise quarterback.

2. New England Patriots

This possibility has come up a lot recently. Though, it’s a bit more complicated than Indianapolis. New England has a young quarterback in Mac Jones who led it to a surprise playoff appearance as a rookie in 2021. He’s since fallen out of favor when it comes to legendary head coach Bill Belichick.

The idea would be to actually have Jackson sign his franchise tender with Baltimore and facilitate a trade to the Patriots. In this scenario, the aforementioned Jones heads to the Ravens with a ton of draft capital. That includes the Patriots’ first-round pick in 2023 (14th overall).

3. Minnesota Vikings

NFL: Pro Bowl-AFC at NFC
Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

Is it possible that we could see a blockbuster swap of Lamar Jackson for Kirk Cousins? While this seems highly unlikely, it might be in play. The idea for Baltimore would be to remain in contention by adding a Pro Bowl signal caller to the mix. In return, Minnesota grabs its franchise guy after refusing to commit to Cousins long-term.

As with pretty much every possibility, there’s complexities involved with this one. Trading Cousins this offseason would come with a $48.5 million dead cap hit for the Vikings. They would have to get Cousins on board to sign a contract extension rather than testing free agency next March. But from an on-field standpoint, this makes sense.

4. San Francisco 49ers

Despite earning a second consecutive NFC Championship Game appearance, San Francisco’s quarterback situation is a hot mess. A history-making rookie quarterback last season, Brock Purdy just underwent elbow surgery and might not be ready for Week 1. San Francisco traded up for Trey Lance in the 2021 NFL Draft but has only seen him throw 102 regular season passes in the NFL. There’s an open question whether the 49ers’ brass is sold on Lance.

On the field, Lamar Jackson would make the 49ers’ offense one of the most talented in league history. Imagine him suiting up with the likes of Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. That would be all sorts of crazy.

So, what makes this unlikely? San Francisco doesn’t have a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft stemming from the aforementioned Lance trade. It would need Jackson to sign his tender and facilitate a trade to Northern California.

Baltimore might be enticed by this possibility in that it would then be able to choose between Lance or Purdy in a hypothetical trade. From there, San Francisco would have to yield one of its big-name players. Perhaps, Deebo Samuel once again surfaces in trade talks. Add in a future first-round pick and more assets, and the Ravens might do this.

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