Lamar Jackson and the Ravens remain at contractual impasse. The door has been wide open for another team to make a move to try to acquire him from the Ravens.
No one seems to be interested in doing it.
What was apparent before the annual league meetings has become more and more clear. Team after team has made it clear, publicly or privately, that there’s no interest in trying to sign or trade for the 2019 league MVP.
Before Monday, the process was complicated, and risky. The process under the non-exclusive franchise tag starts with signing Jackson to an offer sheet, and then waiting to see whether the Ravens match. If they do, good luck un-ringing that bell.
For teams like the Vikings (who inexplicably continue to appear on the short list of betting favorites to land Jackson), the offer-sheet route would as a practical matter require the Vikings to trade Kirk Cousins, sign Jackson to an offer sheet, and wait to see whether the Ravens match it. If the Ravens match, Nick Mullens would become QB1 for the Vikings.
If the Ravens are willing to trade Jackson, it makes more sense for the Vikings to ponder the possibility. Still, the Vikings would have to trade Cousins (to the Ravens or someone else), absorb a $38 million dead-cap charge, and then give up whatever is required to acquire Jackson, both as to trade compensation and Jackson’s contract.
There’s still no reason to think the Vikings are interested in trying to pull off a Cousins-Jackson presto-chango. The only team that seems to be credibly linked to Jackson is the Colts, but they’re clearly not willing to give him the kind of contract he wants, and also to sacrifice the draft capital necessary to get the Ravens to give him up.
It’s not known what the Ravens would even want. The Browns, in addition to giving Deshaun Watson a fully-guaranteed, $230 million, five-year deal, coughed up three first-round picks and more to get him. With the Ravens having the ability to match an offer sheet that would produce, if not matched, a pair of first-round picks, they possibly would want more than two ones to get it done.
For now, it seems as if it will all come back to whether Jackson and the Ravens can work out a long-term deal and, if not, whether the Ravens will sufficiently sweeten the $32.4 million franchise tender to get him to be willing to play.
If they can’t or won’t, it’s entirely possible Jackson won’t play in 2023.