NFL Free Agency Primer: Lamar Jackson

The regular season has come to a close, and most teams have already begun the complicated process of preparing for the 2023 season. In the coming months, we'll be covering the impending free agents most capable of shifting the balance of power in the NFL.

The Player: Lamar Jackson

No player on the market could radically transform an NFL franchise's fortunes like Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. The 2019 MVP and two-time Pro Bowler is one of the league's most electric players: he's averaged 203.9 passing yards and 69.3 rushing yards per game since 2019 while compiling a 39-15 record as a starter over that period. Unfortunately, injuries have become an issue in recent seasons: including the postseason, he has missed 11 games since 2021. He's also been less than stellar in the playoffs (1-3 record, 68.3 passer rating).

The Fit:

Any team that wants to contend but isn't confident they have one of the 10 best quarterbacks in the league on their roster should take a long look at Jackson. The New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons lost a bidding war for Deshaun Watson last offseason; Jackson would be a safer and more promising option. The New York Jets, Washington Commanders, Las Vegas Raiders, and Indianapolis Colts are all searching for quarterbacks but lack top draft picks. The New York Giants weren't afraid to emphasize quarterback Daniel Jones' abilities as a runner; if they don't see him as a long-term answer at the position, Jackson could be a scheme fit and a major upgrade.

The Cost:

The Ravens will likely franchise tag Jackson this offseason, potentially guaranteeing him $45 million for one year. Any team interested in acquiring him will have to offer a trade package similar to what the Texans received for Deshaun Watson and the Seahawks received for Russell Wilson: that starts with multiple first-round picks. They'll also have to provide Jackson with a lucrative extension, one that perhaps makes him the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers currently holds the distinction at a little under $50.3 million per year. Jackson will also likely attempt to exceed Deshaun Watson's record $230 million guaranteed over the length of the deal.

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