Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson will be the biggest storyline of the 2023 NFL offseason with uncertainty surrounding his contract negotiations and future with the team. While it once seemed like a foregone conclusion. he would stay in Baltimore that’s no longer a guarantee.
The relationship between the two sides has taken a hit. Jackson is operating without an agent to handle contract negotiations, a source of frustration for the franchise. A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Jackson has refused to negotiate during the season and seemingly planned to play out the next two years on the franchise tag.
However, things took a turn during the 2022 season. When Jackson suffered a PCL injury in Week 13, Baltimore originally announced he would miss approximately a month. Six weeks later, he didn’t travel with the team before their loss in the AFC Wild Card Game to the Cincinnati Bengals.
While teammates confirmed that Jackson was still limping at the team facility, making it unsafe for him to play, his absence from the sideline on Sunday Night Football and the disconnect with the organization are all signs pointing towards a possible separation.
Yahoo Sports NFL insider Charles Robinson shared on the ‘You Pod to Win the Game’ that he believes there is now a real chance Jackson is traded. Multiple NFL executives share the belief, telling Mike Sando of The Athletic that a divorce feels increasingly likely.
Keeping that in mind, let’s evaluate the best landing spots for a Lamar Jackson trade and what the Ravens might land in return.
Carolina Panthers land their franchise quarterback
Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has been obsessed with landing a franchise quarterback for years now. He signed off on offering the Houston Texans three first-round picks for Deshaun Watson in 2021 before Watson came off the market due to sexual assault allegations. One year later, Carolina made another run at Watson including a face-to-face meeting.
Jackson is a better player with no off-field issues and he’s the level of superstar the Panthers can market as they build their franchise around him. He’s worth even more than Carolina first offered for Watson and you can bet Tepper would be comfortable doing whatever it takes to land him.
- Carolina Panthers acquire: Lamar Jackson
- Baltimore Ravens acquire: 9th overall pick, 40th pick, 61st pick, 2024 1st & 2nd, 2025 1st
If a deal like this happened, the Panthers make it after establishing a verbal agreement with Jackson on a multi-year extension. Add in a new head coach like Ben Johnson, one of the best play-callers in the NFL, you have a team that will run the NFC South for years to come.
As for the Ravens, it provides general manager Eric DeCosta with a fresh start. Armed with three top-45 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft and six first-round selections over the next three years, he can build a new core around a quarterback on a rookie-level contract.
Lamar Jackson traded to Atlanta Falcons
Speaking of desperate teams, the Atlanta Falcons must provide their fans with something to get excited about. Terry Fontenot has done an excellent job assembling a great supporting cast for a franchise quarterback. Unfortunately, that will only translate to a handful of wins each season if you are living in quarterback purgatory.
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Jackson changes everything. Atlanta ran the football 55.3% of the time this past season, the second-highest rush rate in the NFL. Plug in the most athletic quarterback in NFL history into that offense, with Drake London and Kyle Pitts as the offensive weapons, you have an immediate NFC South champion and a threat to win the conference.
- Atlanta Falcons trade: 8th overall pick, 45th pick, 2024 & 2025 1st, 2nd, Desmond Ridder
- Baltimore Ravens trade: Lamar Jackson
Desmond Ridder provides Baltimore with a short-term solution for the 2023 season and there still might be enough upside for him to be a multi-year starter. If the Ravens hold off on drafting a quarterback, they can use their acquired draft capital to build a much better cast of offensive weapons than they could ever assemble with Jackson.
Detroit Lions make an all-in move
Finally, we reach the Detroit Lions. If you put Jackson on the Falcons or Panthers, they win their division and realistically win a playoff game or two. Adding the former NFL MVP to Detroit’s roster would make it a legitimate threat to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
We’ll start with this deal from the Ravens’ perspective. Jared Goff proved during the 2022 season that with the right pieces around him, he plays like a top-12 quarterback. While that’s a fall from what Jackson has done, Baltimore would be a Wild Card team with Goff under center as long as he has an elite defense and strong weapons around him. The draft capital from Detroit achieves that.
- Detroit Lions receive: Lamar Jackson
- Baltimore Ravens Jared Goff, 6th overall pick, 18th pick, 49th pick, 2024 1st & 2nd
As for the Lions, they already had one of the best NFL offenses in 2022 with Goff running the show. Now, put Jackson behind one of the best offensive lines in football with Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds, D’Andre Swift and D.J. Chark Jr. Detroit becomes kings of the NFC North with the firepower and coaching to go on a deep playoff run.