His situation with the Baltimore Ravens is mysterious and weird, and the Detroit Lions’ flagship radio station has started to speculate about Lamar Jackson.
Entering his fifth NFL season, the Baltimore Ravens want to give Lamar Jackson a big contract. But he won’t engage them, and at this point he has not been at OTAs for the first time in his career. He has denied any chatter he wants out of Baltimore, as one would automatically do in that circumstance.
Jackson notably operates without an agent, with his mother in a leading role as an advisor by all indications. Any agent worth their salt would have by now and certainly right now failing that, given the risk of injury Jackson’s style of play brings, urged their client to take the Ravens’ money on a long market-value contract. But the market has also going up for quarterbacks next in line for new deals.
The issue is not the team dragging its feet, beyond owner Steve Bisciotti lamenting the $230 million fully guaranteed deal the division rival Browns gave Deshaun Watson.
Ravens’ mandatory minicamp is next week, and head coach John Harbaugh did not stray from what he has previously said about Jackson this offseason (via SI.com Raven Country).
"I expect him to be here at mandatory minicamp,” Harbaugh said. “I know he’s working hard. Lamar Jackson is a hard worker, so I’m not worried about how hard he’s working. I fully expect him to come back in great shape – that’s what he talks about – and I’m sure he’s throwing,"
Could the Detroit Lions pursue Lamar Jackson?
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk laid out three potential explanations for the situation from Jackson’s perspective.
1-He wants out of Baltimore.
2-He wants the Ravens to offer him a market-setting contract without the burden of negotiation.
3-He doesn’t know what he wants.
All three seem possible, with Florio tabbing No. 3 as the least likely of his list.
On 97.1 The Ticket Friday morning, via SI.com, host Jim Costa broached the possibility of the Lions pursuing Jackson if it got to that point.
"Am I crazy to bring this up? I think he plays this year in Baltimore, he’s on his fifth-year option, the offense is tailored, he will play in Baltimore this year,””He’s not at OTA’s, there’s no deal that’s been reached. It’s weird, it’s been called mysterious. If he plays this year in Baltimore, and the Lions go out and win seven games, eight games, you find a foundation, would you be interested in Lamar? Absolutely.”"
It’s rare a quarterback the caliber of Jackson hits free agency, and the Ravens would obviously have the franchise tag in their pocket as an option to keep him next March. The Lions can move off of Jared Goff easily after this season, so that’s no impediment to pursuing another veteran.
The kind of contract Jackson surely wants (and can get) might be an impediment though, along with if he’d even give the Lions a thought upon considering his options on the open market. Florio offered the Miami Dolphins as a possibility on “The Rich Eisen Show” this week.
The way Jackson has operated his contract situation to this point opens up possibilities. Coming to terms with the Ravens on a long-term deal would of course render all speculation instantly moot. But it is fun to speculate, and there is some root to it until Jackson’s situation in Baltimore is resolved.
Never say never in the NFL, but I’d put the chances Jackson is the Lions’ quarterback in 2023 (and beyond) at about five percent.
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