Lamar Jackson has been one of the biggest stories of the NFL offseason — which makes him one of the biggest topics of conversation during the annual NFL owners meetings this week in Phoenix.
Jackson, already a former league MVP at age 26, is free to negotiate a deal with any team after the Baltimore Ravens placed their non-exclusive franchise tag on him earlier this month.
Of course, the price would be high. Jackson has suggested he already turned down a fully guaranteed, three-year, $133-million deal from the Ravens. Plus, any team that managed to land Jackson would owe Baltimore two first-round draft picks.
But teams were so quick to say “not interested” that NFL Players Assn. executive director Maurice Smith has accused league owners of colluding against Jackson to prevent him (and other elite quarterbacks in the future) from receiving a guaranteed contract.
In what might have been an attempt to regain control of the narrative earlier, Jackson revealed Monday that he asked the Ravens for a trade five days before they put the franchise tag on him.
In other words, he wants out of Baltimore.
Here’s what some of the teams had to say this week in Phoenix after the latest Jackson news dropped:
The Jets have been involved in their own offseason quarterback drama, trying to come to terms with the Green Bay Packers for the acquisition of veteran Aaron Rodgers. While pivoting to Jackson and the Ravens would appear to provide New York an excellent opportunity to at least gain leverage on the Packers, Jets general manager Joe Douglas shot down that idea.
“First of all, Lamar Jackson is a fantastic player,” Douglas said. “But where we stand is, it would be disingenuous and operating, negotiating in bad faith if we went down the path. Right now, we have our plan, we have our process and we’re sticking to that.”
Colts coach Shane Steichen vaguely suggested to reporters his team would do its “due diligence” after news of Jackson’s trade request surfaced. Later on Monday, ESPN’s Stephen Holder said Colts owner Jim Irsay “was emphatic” when he said “the money is not a problem” in regard to possibly signing Jackson; instead, Irsay told Holder the issue would be the compensation owed to the Ravens in such a scenario.
Apparently Jackson wants to play for the Patriots — at least that’s what team owner Robert Kraft told reporters that rapper and close friend Meek Mill texted him a few days ago.
But Kraft said any decision of that sort would be left to coach/general manager Bill Belichick, who unsurprisingly shed no light on the matter when asked by reporters.
Washington coach Ron Rivera said his team is set with Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett as its quarterback and never considered pursuing Jackson.
“You look at the impact of what your roster building is and the assets we’d have to use to get him,” Rivera said. “What would the financial impact be? These are the things we’d have to think about. This is why we did what we’re doing. We are roster building, I think, for the first time.”
Former Rams quarterback Jared Goff had a breakout year for Detroit, so much so that the Lions don’t feel the need to pursue Jackson.
“Look, Lamar is a heck of a talent,” coach Dan Campbell said. “Trying to defend that guy has been something else. We played them two years ago. But, man, we’ve got a quarterback. So, I’m like, ‘We’ve got a quarterback, and thank God we got one.’
“So, we’re good. But, man, he’s a heck of a talent.”
Throughout this whole ordeal, only one team really has expressed interest in having Jackson as their franchise quarterback, and it’s the one that drafted him out of Louisville in 2018. Ravens coach John Harbaugh was talking to reporters when Jackson’s tweets dropped Monday, and he seemed confident everything would work out and Jackson will be calling signals for his team once again this fall.
“I love Lamar,” Harbaugh said. “When we’re all playing football next year and Lamar Jackson is the quarterback, we’re all going to be happy.”
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