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Another NFL team bows out of Lamar Jackson race as former MVP’s market narrows more

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has been seen as a generational talent since his college days at Louisville.

In his first season as a full-time starter back in 2019, Jackson tallied 43 total touchdowns compared to six interceptions en route to winning the NFL MVP. He’s the only quarterback in modern NFL history to put up two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons on the ground.

So, what the heck is happening with Jackson? He’s still technically a free agent after Baltimore placed the franchise tag on the quarterback. Since then, the 26-year-old quarterback has requested a trade.

Meanwhile, yet another team has bowed out of the sweepstakes for the quarterback.

“Everyone knows Lamar’s skill set. Lamar’s a stud. I’m sure they’ll work it out there. But Lamar’s a great player,” San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said earlier in the week. “We’ve got three quarterbacks we’re pretty good with right now, and we’re pretty set with how we’ve built our roster salary cap-wise.”

That’s pretty much San Francisco’s way of announcing that it has no interest in acquiring Jackson right now.

Sure, there’s a lot of layers to this. With Baltimore having placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Lamar Jackson, other teams can sign the quarterback to an offer sheet. If the offer is not matched, said team yields two first-round picks to the Ravens while paying Jackson top-of-the-market money (roughly $50 million annually).

No one said acquiring a top-five quarterback was going to come cheap. It never really does. Despite this, San Francisco now joins a number of teams who have made it clear that they are not going to chase after Lamar Jackson.

  • San Francisco 49ers
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Washington Commanders
  • New England Patriots

In addition to these four teams, others have made moves that indicate they are going in another direction. The Las Vegas Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo. The New Orleans Saints brought in former Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.

Meanwhile, the Carolina Panthers acquired the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to use on a quarterback. Simply put, Jackson’s market is slipping.

Related: Lamar Jackson and the top NFL QBs of 2023

Why wouldn’t the San Francisco 49ers have interest in Lamar Jackson?

lamar jackson, san francisco 49ers
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

First off, San Francisco does not have a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. It traded that away in the move up for fellow quarterback Trey Lance back in 2021.

Under NFL rules, general manager John Lynch and Co. can’t even sign Jackson to an offer sheet until after the 2023 NFL Draft. This means that the 49ers would have to work out a trade with Baltimore for Jackson. That would only come after the NFL Draft or if Jackson opts to sign his tender with the Ravens.

With all of that said, closing the door on the possibility of bringing in a generational quarterback doesn’t seem to make sense for a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Lamar Jackson stats (2018-22): 63.7% completion, 12,209 passing yards, 4,437 rushing yards, 125 total TD, 38 INT

As of right now, San Francisco has Lance prepared to compete with former New York Jets first-round bust Sam Darnold for snaps during the offseason program. The final pick in last year’s NFL Draft, Brock Purdy just underwent shoulder surgery that could keep him out past Week 1.

While Purdy put up an historic performance after replacing Garoppolo late last season, he’s still unproven. Lance has thrown all of 132 passes since his sophomore season as North Dakota State back in 2019. Darnold? He’s tossed 61 touchdowns compared to 55 interceptions in five NFL seasons.

Lamar Jackson wouldn’t come cheap. San Francisco would have to work some salary cap gymnastics with stars such as wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and Nick Bosa slated for huge contract extensions. The 49ers would also likely have to move on from a couple core players to meet Jackson’s asking price.

These are the complications when it comes to a potential trade. But with the 49ers coming off two consecutive NFC Championship Game appearances and their Super Bowl window wide open, why close the door on this possibility?

It’s just the latest example of Lamar Jackson seeing what his true worth is around the NFL. And in reality, it’s all sorts of confusing.

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