Lamar Jackson may have played his last game with the Baltimore Ravens. If he has, should the Indianapolis Colts go after the quarterback?
For the longest, Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens seemed like the perfect match. He was the perfect quarterback to make the team competitive again, the Ravens allowed him to be himself as an individual and as a quarterback, and the city of Baltimore reciprocated the love that Jackson had for it. However, things don’t seem as picture-perfect as of late. Jackson and the team couldn’t agree to a contract extension last offseason, and then, Lamar injured his knee and was forced to miss Baltimore’s final six games of this season, including the team’s recent playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Now, there’s constant discussion about whether or not Lamar Jackson wants to remain a Baltimore Raven and if the team even wants to pay him. Jackson has said that he wants to stay in Baltimore and the Ravens have said that Lamar is their quarterback, so this all could just be drama created by the media. However, Jackson is currently set to be a free agent this offseason, and until that changes, it’s possible that he could soon be joining another team.
If Jackson actually becomes available, he would have a large market of suitors and that market should definitely include the Indianapolis Colts and any other team that’s in need of a quarterback. How could a team like the Colts acquire Lamar Jackson?
Colts should definitely go after Lamar Jackson
The simplest way Indianapolis, or any team, could acquire Jackson is that he actually becomes a free agent this offseason, and the team signs him to a lucrative contract. While he doesn’t currently have any ties to Baltimore beyond this season, it’s extremely unlikely that the Ravens let Jackson become a free agent. If they do, that would be one of the most colossal failures in sports history. Baltimore will either sign Jackson to a long-term extension or they will franchise tag him.
Depending on which franchise tag the Ravens use, Jackson may still be available for other teams. As NFL insider, Ian Rapoport laid out during an appearance in ‘The Pat McAfee Show’, there are two different franchise tags. There’s the exclusive franchise tag which costs a team more but guarantees a player remains on the roster, and then there is the non-exclusive franchise tag which saves the team some money but also makes the player available for two first-round draft picks. If teams knew they could get Lamar Jackson for two first-round picks, those picks would be on their way to Baltimore faster than Lamar Jackson can escape a collapsing pocket.
That’s the mindset that the Colts should have if Jackson receives a non-exclusive franchise tag. There’s not really a suitable argument for why Indy shouldn’t go after Jackson. Sure, the Colts are in a position to select a top rookie quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft. However, sending away two first-round picks to get a player that has a case to be the best quarterback in the NFL is a much better model for success than banking on a quarterback that has never taken a snap in the NFL.
Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, and Will Levis may be great, and there are also benefits to having a talented quarterback on their rookie contract. However, there’s no telling how any prospect pans out in the NFL; the Colts would know exactly what they’re getting in Jackson.
Ultimately, it’s like a 99.9% chance that Baltimore and Lamar Jackson resolve whatever issues they have, if there are any. However, if the unthinkable happens, that 0.1%, and Jackson actually becomes available, Chris Ballard must prove that the Colts are willing to do whatever it takes to get an elite quarterback.