Why Lamar Jackson-Ravens Drama Could Ultimately Become Patriots Problem

Lamar Jackson would look good in green


Jan 13, 2023

We might already have seen the last of Lamar Jackson in a Ravens uniform.

The Baltimore quarterback has been ruled out for Sunday’s NFL wild-card round playoff matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. Jackson hasn’t played in more than a month, and given the mounting tension between player and franchise, it wouldn’t be surprising to see things blow up this offseason.

He hasn’t played since Dec. 4, nursing a supposedly minor knee injury. Yet, Jackson has missed the last six games and won’t be able to answer the bell Sunday in a playoff game. According to him, he has a Grade 2 PCL strain.

“There is still inflammation surrounding my knee and my knee remains unstable,” Jackson said Thursday night in a tweet. “I wish I could be out there with my guys more than anything, but I can’t give 100% of myself to my guys and fans. I’m still hopeful we have a chance.”

That “chance” is unlikely. The Ravens are more than a touchdown underdogs against a surging Bengals team looking to defend its conference title starting Sunday night.

This could become a much bigger problem, though. Head coach John Harbaugh sounded surprised by Jackson’s update which obviously went through his own account and not the team.

Meanwhile, Jackson’s contract is noteworthy in this all. He’s in the final season of his rookie deal. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent if he doesn’t get a contract extension or the team decides not to place the franchise tag on him.

Jackson reportedly turned down a long-term extension offer in September to bet on himself. A cynic could look at the knee situation and think someone on the verge of hitting the market is doing all he can to preserve his earning power, especially with a knee injury for a player like Jackson who thrives running the ball.

But that probably doesn’t play well with the team, and Harbaugh’s tone and messaging have been curious. It wouldn’t be shocking, just parsing through all the evidence we have now, if a contract dispute came to a head in the offseason, and the Ravens ultimately explore trading the former MVP.

If they do, the New York Jets should be one of the first teams to make a call. The Jets are in the unique position of having a tremendously skilled roster at just about every position other than quarterback. Zach Wilson has talent, but he hasn’t made much of it in two years, and while Mike White has been a nice fill-in, he can’t seem to stay healthy.

It’s no surprise the Jets might be enthralled by the idea of landing Jackson.

“The one wild card that I would not rule out if he is made available because things are getting a little funky down there in Baltimore is Lamar Jackson,” SNY’s Connor Hughes recently said. If he’s made available and the Ravens are willing to listen to offers, the Jets will do everything they can to position themselves to make a very, very, very compelling offer for Lamar Jackson.”

The price tag for such a move would be astronomical. The Cleveland Browns last March traded three consecutive first-round picks to Houston for Deshaun Watson. They then gave Watson a five-year, $230 million fully guaranteed contract — despite all of the baggage he brought with him. Jackson is arguably better than Watson and doesn’t come with anywhere near as many headaches for off-field transgressions.

But it’s obviously something the Jets should do. Maybe they could lessen the draft capital cost by including Wilson in the deal, but even if they had to give up a few years’ worth of first-round picks, it’s worth it. They are a quarterback away from being a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Jackson isn’t without flaws, but he’d instantly become the most talented quarterback in Jets history, and they would be in the mix for a title from Day 1.

It would be the perfect way for the Jets to keep up with the arms race in the AFC East and the conference as a whole. New York currently has the worst quarterback situation in the division and trading for Jackson would send them blowing by both Miami and New England.

Speaking of the Patriots, it would be a pretty significant blow if New York made the move. Only the Jets had a worse record than the Patriots in 2022, and the incompetent offense was arguably the only reason Bill Belichick’s team swept the Jets.

New York trading for Jackson would also further underscore New England’s offensive issues. The Patriots are in the process of rebuilding their own offensive operation, announcing Thursday they are formally searching for an offensive coordinator after Belichick’s failed Matt Patricia experiment. Short of something like trading for DeAndre Hopkins and hitting a home run in the draft, the Jets acquiring a QB like Jackson would likely leave the Patriots with the worst offense in the East.

Maybe things work themselves out in Baltimore, but it does seem to be trending the opposite direction. If that’s the case, teams like the Jets (and by extension, the Patriots) should be on high alert moving forward.

Thumbnail photo via Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak
Previous Article

Bruins Should Be Thrilled After Reaching Midway Point As NHL’s Best

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Denver Nuggets
Next Article

Nuggets C Nikola Jokic Unlikely to Play Friday vs. Clippers

Picked For You