The Baltimore Ravens are expected to place the exclusive franchise tag on former NFL MVP Lamar Jackson to prevent him from hitting free agency.
The exclusive tag means that other teams can’t sign Jackson by yielding two first-round picks to the Ravens in the process. It would also mean a record $45 million cap hit for the 2023 season.
With the former first-round pick and his Ravens reportedly $100 million apart in contract talks, trade conversations are expected leading up to the start of the new league year in March.
It still seems highly unlikely that Jackson will be traded. He’s a franchise quarterback and one of the most-talented players at that position in the game.
With this said, the powers that be in Baltimore could come to the conclusion that Jackson’s asking price in contract talks — said to be near the fully-guaranteed deal Deshaun Watson signed last offseason — could be too much. In turn, the team might decide it’s better to acquire a ton of capital while finding another cheaper option under center.
If Jackson is put on the trade block, there wouldn’t be a limited number of teams interested in his services. However, the asking price would limit said market to teams with actual assets to give up. Below, we look at five ideal Lamar Jackson trade scenarios.
Houston Texans add franchise quarterback
- Texans get: Lamar Jackson
- Ravens get: Davis Mills, 2nd pick, 12th pick, future 1st-round pick
Houston could start out the DeMeco Ryans era with a bang by pulling off a blockbuster trade for Jackson. In this scenario, general manager Nick Caserio uses both of the Texans’ first-round picks and a future first rounder to find a long-term option at quarterback.
The Texans have pieces in place on offense, including stud young running back Dameon Pierce and one of the best left tackles in the game, Laremy Tunsil. It also boasts $37.12 million in cap room to upgrade the roster. Giving Jackson a record-breaking contract wouldn’t prevent that from happening.
From Baltimore’s perspective, it acquires three valuable first-round selections. The team could very well opt to go with whoever is available at No. 2 between Alabama’s Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud of Ohio State in the 2023 NFL Draft.
With pieces in place to contend, having a quarterback under a rookie quarterback would give the Ravens a competitive advantage. We’re seeing that with the division-rival Cincinnati Bengals and Joe Burrow right now.
Seattle Seahawks find Russell Wilson replacement
- Seahawks get: Lamar Jackson
- Ravens get: Tyler Lockett, 5th pick, 20th pick, 2nd-round pick, future 1st-round pick
Geno Smith was brilliant in the first post-Russell Wilson season in Seattle, leading the NFL with a 70% completion mark while tallying 30 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. The question here is whether Smith was a one-year wonder. After all, he was seen as a journeyman leading up to the 2022 season.
- Geno Smith stats (2013-21): 59% completion, 6,917 yards, 34 TD, 37 INT, 75.7 QB rating
Investing well north of $30 million annually on Smith woud be a major gamble for general manager John Schneider and Co. Giving Jackson roughly $15 million more annually wouldn’t be given his track record.
In this scenario, Seattle gives up one of the picks it acquired from the Denver Broncos for Wilson (fifth overall). The team also yields its original first-round selection and two other picks.
Baltimore also receives one of the most-underrated wide receivers in the game in that of Lockett. This position was a major problem for John Harbaugh and Co. last season. As for the quarterback position, making a play for a stopgap option such as Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo would be in the cards.
Lamar Jackson trade to the New Orleans Saints in blockbuster
- Saints get: Lamar Jackson
- Ravens get: Alvin Kamara, Marshon Lattimore, 30th pick, 2nd-round pick, future 1st and 2nd-round picks
With or without Jackson, Baltimore fancies itself as a contender. The team has several core pieces in place to compete with Cincinnati in the AFC North moving forward. That’s why adding win-now players to the mix in a potential Lamar Jackson trade makes sense.
This hypothetical blockbuster includes Baltimore bringing in two former Pro Bowlers. Kamara, 27, remains in his prime and is averaging a whopping 1,481 yards to go with 12 touchdowns throughout his career. A four-time Pro Bowler, Lattimore has been a true shutdown guy. He yielded a mere 67.3 QB rating when targeted a season ago. Replacing impending free agent Marcus Peters with Lattimore would be a boon.
From New Orleans’ perspective, the team is already looking at the quarterback market. It just recently had a meeting with Pro Bowler Derek Carr. In short, the dynamic between Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston is not working out for head coach Dennis Allen.
In salary cap hell, moving off the likes of high-priced players such as Kamara and Lattimore to find that true franchise guy makes sense for general manager Mickey Loomis. Remember, New Orleans was in on Deshaun Watson last offseason before he was moved to the Cleveland Browns. Paying a high price for that guy under center has been in the cards in the Bayou for some time.
Related: Sportsnaut’s 2023 NFL mock draft
New York Giants land franchise guy
- Giants get: Lamar Jackson
- Ravens get: Evan Neal, 25th pick, 2nd-round pick, 3rd-round pick, future 1st and 2nd round picks
Giants general manager Joe Schoen has made it clear that they are looking to retain impending free agent Daniel Jones after a surprisingly successful 2022 season. But at what cost? Jones’ market is said to be roughly $40 million annually. That’s a whole heck of a lot of cash for a quarterback with limited upside.
Fresh off their first playoff appearance since 2016, the Giants might want to get bold at quarterback. Pulling off a Lamar Jackson trade while retaining stud running back Saquon Barkley would make New York’s offensive borderline elite.
In this secenario, Baltimore acquires a stud young offensive tackle in Evan Neal who found himself as the seventh-pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Alabama product started 13 games at right tackle as a rookie and could slot in as Baltimore’s left tackle moving forward. Picking up five draft picks would also give general manager Eric DeCosta a ton of wriggle room to add a starting quarterback to the mix. Perhaps Aaron Rodgers become a real possibility.
Lamar Jackson trade to the Las Vegas Raiders
- Raiders get: Lamar Jackson
- Ravens get: Hunter Renfrow, 7th pick, 2nd-round pick, 3rd-round pick, 2023 1st and 2nd-round picks
It gets complicated here. But this deal would be expanded to include Derek Carr heading to the Ravens. From Las Vegas’ perspective, that trade would have to happen before February 15 due to salary cap purposes. The Jackson trade would then be completed when the new league year starts in March.
But this trade would make sense for both sides. Carr could be that stopgap option Baltimore would seek if the team ended up moving Jackson. Add in Pro Bowl receiver Hunter Renfrow as well as the seventh pick in the 2023 NFL Draft as well as other assets, and this would be a boon for Baltimore.
- Lamar Jackson stats: 64% completion, 12,209 passing yards, 4,437 rushing yards, 125 total TD, 38 INT
Imagine Jackson teaming up with Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams in Josh McDaniels’ offense for the Raiders. That’d make for one of the best trios on offense in the entire league. Adding Jackson to the mix would also likely increase the chances that Jacobs returns in free agency after leading the league in rushing a season ago. It just makes too much sense.