Lamar Jackson may have very well played his last down as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.
Although the Baltimore Ravens used the non-exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Lamar Jackson, there is a strong possibility he is playing for somebody else in 2023.
I didn’t think it was possible, but the drama surrounding Jackson’s contract situation with the Ravens has been more agonizing than Aaron Rodgers’ pending divorce with the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay wants to move on from Rodgers, while he wants to keep playing, preferably with the New York Jets. It is all about Brian Gutekunst and Joe Douglas figuring out the right trade.
As for Jackson, his relationship with the Ravens is getting more and more fractured by the day. While there is a chance it can be repaired, it feels closer to slim to none. Baltimore is a well-run organization, but they can be control freaks. Jackson is self-represented, but has seemingly grown tired of the Ravens’ controlling tactics in these absolutely exhausting negotiating processes.
Let’s figure out what team Jackson will suit up for in Week 1 of the upcoming 2023 NFL season.
Lamar Jackson’s team for the 2023 NFL season: Who will he be playing for?
Look. The simplest and most logical outcome would be for Jackson to walk back to the Baltimore team facility with his tail tucked between his legs, play out the franchise tag and live to fight another day. Unfortunately, things have gotten a bit too acrimonious for me to think Baltimore will want to withstand another year or so of perpetual ice cream headaches, so he will be traded soon.
Where it stands now, I have one team at the top of my potential trade partners for Jackson, as well as one dark horse destination. The team that makes the most sense to trade for Jackson has to be the Indianapolis Colts. Also, it would not shock me if the Detroit Lions pulled a fast one on us and completely flipped the NFL on its head, man. Let’s discuss the odds of Jackson going to either spot.
When it comes to the Colts, they feel the most desperate. They may play in the same conference as Baltimore, and used to play in the same metropolis as them back in the day. For Mayflower reasons, we may not get the cleanest of negotiations between general managers Chris Ballard and Eric DeCosta. However, Jim Irsay wants a new franchise quarterback more than anything else. He may have to put some of his thoughts on guaranteed contracts aside to make it happen, though.
The Colts have been a chaotic mess ever since they broke Andrew Luck. They have been ripping through retreads faster than the late Larry King did wives. It has been slightly comical to watch from afar, but their fans have been through enough. Jackson is in the midst of his prime. What if I told you that if he started for the 2023 Colts he would be good enough to start for them in 2024?
Trading for Jackson may cost Indianapolis its No. 4 overall pick this year and next year’s first, but that is the price you have to pay for a franchise quarterback, and frankly, relevancy. Indianapolis would go from a laughingstock to having the best quarterback in the AFC South. They should be able to contend for a division crown right away. Plus, he would be a great fit with Shane Steichen.
Keep in mind that Steichen was the Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator under former Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni. The Eagles were expected to be hot garbage when Sirianni took the job. Well, they have made the playoffs the last two years and played in the Super Bowl. Steichen played a huge part in Jalen Hurts’ growth and development. Jackson is the better talent.
Simply put, Jackson fits in nicely to what the Colts want to do offensively. They don’t have great receivers, but that shouldn’t matter with a decent offensive line and Jonathan Taylor in the backfield. Since the Colts need a quarterback, they need to trade up from No. 4 or will have to settle for whoever is still left between Kentucky’s Will Levis or Florida’s Anthony Richardson.
While Indianapolis is the ideal landing spot for Jackson, Detroit is not a bad option for him either, man. A trade with the Lions would have to include Jared Goff going to Baltimore, as well as the No. 6 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft Detroit got from the Los Angeles Rams in the Matthew Stafford trade. Jackson helps the Lions win division titles, while Goff serves as their bridge to the next guy.
Goff would play very well in Todd Monken’s offense, while Baltimore could sit back and not have to overdraft Levis or Richardson. Heck, they could take the best defensive player available at No. 6 and double-down on their identity that made them an AFC North powerhouse in the first place. Because Baltimore and Detroit play in opposite conferences, they do make for ideal trade partners.
Overall, I do have reservations about Jackson being a better culture fit than Goff. After being told by Sean McVay that he is just not good enough for him, Goff has fit in very nicely playing for Dan Campbell in Detroit, man. He has flourished in Ben Johnson’s offensive system, as well as having Mark Brunell as his quarterbacks coach. Frankly, I think the Lions really like what they have in Goff.
Ultimately, a third or maybe even a fourth trade destination could emerge for Jackson. Plenty of teams out there are in dire need of a franchise quarterback. However, it takes two teams to make a trade. From an impulsive standpoint, I would totally expect Irsay to be the one to get the Ravens on the phone and for them to make a trade with his bad franchise for a new quarterback.
Look for Jackson to play for either the Colts or Ravens next year, maybe even a team like the Lions.