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Possibility of a Lamar Jackson trade has ‘never been more likely’

After failing in contract extension talks over the past year-plus, former NFL MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are now up against a deadline.

Baltimore has a decision to make about whether to place the dreaded franchise tag on Jackson ahead of the March 7 deadline.

While it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that general manager Eric DeCosta and Co. will do that, there’s other factors here.

A non-exclusive franchise tag would cost Baltimore $32.45 million against the cap in 2023, enabling another team to steal Jackson for the compensation of two future first-round picks. If Baltimore placed the exclusive tag on its star quarterback, said cost would come in at $45.46 million while eliminating the possibility of him negotiating with other teams.

As contract talks between the two sides continue to be contentious, we’re hearing a new report indicating that a blockbuster Lamar Jackson trade could actually be in the works this offseason.

“It feels like anything is possible,” a team source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Jamison Hensley recently. The two insiders went on to note that the possibility of Baltimore trading Jackson has never been “more likely.”

It really is an interesting dynamic to look at. If Baltimore were to place the non-exclusive tag on Jackson, it wouldn’t be in a strong negotiating position with the quarterback (or other teams in trade talks). That’s especially true with teams such as the Atlanta Falcons reportedly highly interested in the star quarterback. This also opens up another can of worms.

Related: Lamar Jackson and the top 2023 NFL free agents

Lamar Jackson value on NFL trade block

lamar jackson trade, baltimore ravens
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

One could reasonably conclude that Jackson’s value is much more than the two first-round picks that Baltimore would receive if a team signed him under the non-exclusive designation.

Let’s take a gander at blockbuster NFL trades last season that involved star quarterbacks as case studies.

The Denver Broncos yielded two first-round picks, two second-round picks, three players and change to acquire Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks last March. Wilson was 33 years old at the time. Despite his recent injury issues, Jackson is seven years younger and provides much more upside.

Last March also saw the Cleveland Browns give up three first-round picks for embattled quarterback Deshaun Watson before signing the former Houston Texans star to a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract. Obviously, Jackson wouldn’t come with the same off-field baggage as Watson.

Acquiring a player of this ilk who is in his prime would cost much more than two first-round picks. That’s the moral of the story.

Right now, the ball is in Baltimore’s court. What it decides to do with the franchise tag deadline quickly approaching will give us an idea about what the plans are moving forward. For now, a trade of the star quarterback is increasingly likely.