Arthur Smith explains decision to ride with Desmond Ridder, not Lamar Jackson

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons
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A year ago, the Falcons made a play for quarterback Deshaun Watson. This year, they’re not giving much of a thought to quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Instead, second-year signal caller Desmond Ridder continues to be QB1 as the 2023 season approaches.

“He won a lot of games in college and helped Luke Fickell at Cincinnati really change the whole culture of that program,” coach Arthur Smith told Rich Eisen, via “And I certainly think that experience, you start that many games coming in helps, we certainly saw that early on as we threw everything we could at him. And he was impressive, and we felt that he was ready to take over at that time of the season, and I thought he did a nice job. Cool, collected under pressure.

“At the end of the day, you’ve got to be able to operate on critical third downs, fourth downs, two-minute situations, and I thought he’d done that pretty well. And certainly there’s a lot of things we all can continue to improve, but we’ve got a lot of faith in him.”

As discussed earlier this week on PFT Live, the Falcons seem to be smitten with Ridder’s intangibles — and also to be hopeful that the tangibles will follow.

It’s also increasingly clear that they’re not interested in Jackson.

“Look at the people that are willing to make trades, and they happen quick now, and I think any time any player, it’s our job to understand the markets that’s going on, and who’s available, who’s not, do they fit, and there’s a lot of things that go into it,” Smith said. “With those transactions, where you’re willing to spend in the salary cap, and there’s great debates, certainly makes your shows more interesting, and that’s great for the league, but at the end of the day you’ve got to do what you think is best for your team and what you’re building and how it fits into that puzzle.

“And like I said there’s a lot of great players and they become available it seems now more than ever. I mean look at the deals that were done a year ago and you’ve got a quarterback that’s on a huge deal a year ago that’s available now. And that was unheard of 20 years ago.”

Indeed it was. Great quarterbacks didn’t become available. And if they would have become available, they would have been snatched right up.

The issue with Jackson is both the financial investment and the trade expectations. The belief in league circles that the Ravens would match an offer sheet that Jackson signed with another team means that the Ravens don’t want two first-round picks for Jackson. So what more would they want, beyond two ones?

That doesn’t mean the Ravens haven’t thought about it.

“I mean everything that becomes available around the league, if it can improve our roster we discuss,” Smith said. “And that’s at every position, whether it’s the fifth corner, the backup gunner on punt, we’re always going to look to add, and that’s at every position. So those discussions happen all day every day, those are standard operating procedures, and I imagine most teams do the same thing.

“And I understand some players get more attention than the others, absolutely, you’ve got to understand what is going on, what are the trends, and see what’s available, so those are everyday conversations.”

But it’s not every day that an MVP is available to be acquired. The Jets currently are waiting to commit to paying Aaron Rodgers $60 million for one year, and to give multiple draft picks in exchange for a player who may not be in the league come 2024. For Jackson, it was and is and likely will continue to be crickets.

A year ago, the Falcons were ready to go all in for Deshaun, despite his off-field issues and a pair of ACL tears and zero MVP trophies. Now, they’re all in with the 74th overall pick in the 2021 draft.

That’s they’re business. But it’s easy to understand why some are asking whether teams that continue to ignore Lamar Jackson truly want to win as many games as they can — or whether at some level a deeper point is being made about the total investment owners are willing to make in franchise quarterbacks.

38 responses to “Arthur Smith explains decision to ride with Desmond Ridder, not Lamar Jackson

  1. I think what keeps being forgotten in all this is Arthur Blank has known Deshaun since he was a child and has never lost contact. He was the one reportedly pushing for that trade because he knows him personally and loves him as a person and a player.

  2. A non-move that will plague this franchise for at least 5 years. Don’t get me wrong, I like Desmond Ridder and his potential. But there is a franchise QB, just sitting there, that could revitalize the culture and bring back the exciting Mike Vick days of the dirty birds. Not to mention this move would almost certainly boost the young asset Kyle Pitts. It makes me laugh teams will give up a HAUL for Russel Wilson and then bawk at the chance to trade and sign, one of, if not the most, electric player in the entire league. Bad business decision, imo. Enjoy being below average for the next 5 years Atlanta.

  3. Jackson is a few years removed from MVP status, injured 2 years in a row, didn’t even make trip to support his team in the playoffs and apparently wants crazy money with guarantees in his new contract. Falcons weren’t ready to go all in on Watson or they would have offered a fully guaranteed contract and offered more money than the Browns to get him.

  4. Sticking with Ridder this year is 110% the correct decision. We don’t know if he will be good, great, average or horrible. Give him a full year and a supporting cast to see what you have. If he can even be above average, the value here is enormous. And if he turns out to be good/great, the Falcons are poised for sustained success.

  5. A huge picture that’s developing here is Lamar’s MVP year was obviously smoke & mirrors. Lamar’s turned himself radioactive with his comments & actions contrary to what his stats stay he’s a head case expecting too much for his limited ability.

  6. This just goes to show that protecting the league from guaranteed
    contracts is more important than assembling a winning team.

  7. This just means Blank will never live to see Atlanta win a SuperBowl.

  8. “But it’s not every day that an MVP is available to be acquired.”

    I’d like to hear one of the people who ceaselessly brings up Jackson’s 2019 award concede that at some point the MVP honor loses relevance compared to the player’s performance since. Just to hear them admit that the award has a shelf life. I mean, if it didn’t, why isn’t anyone talking about signing MVPs Cam Newton and Matt Ryan?

  9. They can do whatever they want to do, but to sell it as that they’re doing it because they’re about winning is silly. But NFL fans are generally dumb, so you can tell them just about anything, and they’ll go along as long as they’re entertained.

  10. This seems a bit like someone with a brand-new Camry being asked why they’re not wanting to buy the rare but broken-down Lamborghini that’s up for auction. Sure it’s nice, but would I be better off if I bought it?

  11. There are valid concerns that would cause a team to not want to give Lamar the contract he wants. Those red flags aren’t going away. And giving up multiple first round draft picks doesn’t make a rebuilding team feel better.

    Sign a low end elite QB to the largest fully guaranteed contract ever, give up first round picks, and he still might not make it through a full season? You’ll limit the rebuild.

    Oh yeah, we still don’t know if he can evolve into a traditional offense as he gets older. Yes he can pass, but can he pass without the threat of a run? We don’t know.

  12. First, nobody deserves anything. Second, if any team that has questionable QB play thought Jackson was a top 5 passer he would have GMs knocking down his door. Two first round picks is pricey but teams routinely pay more to move up in the draft for young passers. Jackson has severely misjudged his market. With the market the way it is he may get high 40s yearly average but not all guaranteed.

  13. Two things come into play here #1) look at Lamar’s stats over the last 3yrs he’d been in a serious decline from those 2019 and 2020 seasons and compare them to Ridder’s stats, I know it’s only 4 games but the kid got tons better in those 4 games. #2) Then there’s the money Lamar wants, $40mil year or more compared to Ridder at about $4.3mil for the remainder of his rookie contract so they’d have over $120mil in Lamar for 3yrs for a player who has already bounced off of his ceiling in year 2 vs $4.3mil in Ridder for 3yrs, a player who looks like he has huge potential left in him and it’s a NO-BRAINER, you roll with the rookie and build a team around him. If you deal for Lamar and you’ll have to cut/trade some of your best players just to pay Lamar.
    There’s a way to make it to Super Bowls that no one is writing about and it is with a QB on a rookie contract under center. Here’s the QBs on rookie contracts that I remember made it to a Super Bowl since 2001, Brady, Big Ben X2, Eli, Flacco, Kaep, Wilson X2, Cam, Goff, Mahomes X2, Burrow and Hurts. That’s 14 times a QB on their rookie contract has made it to a Super Bowl, there might be a couple more I missed.

  14. When an NFL team makes a major commitment to a franchise quarterback, inevitably they view the relationship as a partnership of sorts on some level, though not as equals. When one enters into a high investment partnership, one must be able to trust and respect the person and their potential for high level future performances. Regarding Lamar Jackson, it is easy to see why there would be reasonable grounds for concern over both the ability to trust the person and the potential for high level future performances. As has been previously discussed ad nauseam, given LJ’s tendency to get injured, his limited skills as a passing quarterback, and his bizarre off field decision making over the last 18 months, it would seem perfectly rational for an organization to be skeptical that they would get an acceptable return on their investment over the course of the contract.

  15. Since Lamar’s MVP season he has completed 63.7% of his passes, and over a 17 game season, would average 3435 yards, 26 TDs, 13 INTs and a 92.5 rating. Who, in their right mind, would pay $45 Million a year for that?

  16. dirtdawg53 says:

    Since Lamar’s MVP season he has completed 63.7% of his passes, and over a 17 game season, would average 3435 yards, 26 TDs, 13 INTs and a 92.5 rating. Who, in their right mind, would pay $45 Million a year for that?

    –Running QB on the decline who can’t stay healthy and quit on his team. Nobody wants to guarantee that.

  17. If you pay the money you need for Lamar, those draft picks are a necessity to build the team around him.
    And then you need to discuss system match. Do you go RPO based or force him into more pro style sets and reads?

    A. You don’t pay the price he wants.
    B. Those picks if used right can build a team fast.

  18. They are going to give Ridder his fair shot which is the right thing to do. If he flops, and maybe he does, then they know they should move on. He deserves his chance to fail or succeed though.

  19. You keep posting that no other teams want to offer a contract to Jackson, because the Ravens will match the offer. I think the Ravens management were hoping a team would make an offer, so the Ravens could take the two number one picks and run.

    As to why teams don’t want to offer Jackson a huge contract, look at the recent QB contracts: Wilson – a failure thus far; Watson – a failure thus far; Murray = a failure thus far. At least Allen can get you past the first round of the playoffs.

  20. I like Lamar as a player but im team NFL owners on this….he wants more than he is worth IMO

  21. As for the QBs that made it to the Super Bowl on a rookie contract in the AFC they account for 17 Super Bowl starting QBs since 2001.

  22. Blank is the same guy that gave Vick 22 million dollars after pushing him onto the field in a wheelchair (literally, look it up). Puzzling.

  23. Face it…nobody is going to spend that much to get him… nobody is gonna pay him what he wants….and nobody is going to scrap their entire offense for him.

    It’s not collusion.

    It just is what it is.

  24. Trade up to 3 and take Richardson. Lamar wants too much money. Ridder cannot play.

  25. Look if you TOLD me I HAD to offer ONE NFL QB a guaranteed contract it would be Jackson (.700 win percentage and 1-3 in the playoffs) over Watson (.516 win percentage and 1-2 in the playoffs) in a heartbeat. At least I can go to bed at night knowing I’m not going to get a call in the morning that my QB won’t be at practice because he’s been arrested.

    That said NEITHER one is worth it (as Cleveland is going to find out over the next several years) and Jackson just is NOT a guy who is going to get you to a SB never mind win it for you.

    And I think the Ravens are hopping someone will offer Jackson a contract that he signs. They’ll gladly take two #1s and move on with Huntley.

  26. Lamar is a running back who throws sometimes. Stick with Ridder for a lot less headaches and less money!

  27. Richardson is being told to wait a year to enter the draft. I can tell you with 100% certainty the Broncos scouts have told him this. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the league feels about him.

    If I am him, I’m viewing my career in line with a HB timeline. It’s becoming clear that the career span of a predominantly running QB is closer to that of a HB, not 20 years as we are accustomed to.

    A carry metric needs to be calculated for these QB sooner than later.

  28. This isn’t unanimous within their organization and certainly not with their fans. He’s the coach and his credibility is poor after how he tried to tarnish the humble give his shirt off his back Mariota. Lamar would like to sit with Blank and there are members of that organization who would like to make a trade.

  29. freedomforamerica99 says:
    April 1, 2023 at 7:36 pm
    As for the QBs that made it to the Super Bowl on a rookie contract in the AFC they account for 17 Super Bowl starting QBs since 2001


    Tom brady made 8 of those superbowls and for 7 of them after his 3 year rookie rookie contract expired. So that definitely not true.

  30. If Jackson isn’t traded/signed by someone this season, there’s probably a fairly good chance that he will be available again next offseason. The Falcon are a team currently in a rebuild and simply can not afford to give up multiple high draft picks for a QB. What they are doing is smart. They’re going to use their draft picks to improve the team with cheap, young players while also figuring out what they have in Ridder. If Ridder doesn’t work out they can make a run at LJ next season and possibly land him without having to give up any picks.

  31. The light bulb finally came on, money and draft picks for what, no guarantee to win but guarantee to pay out.

  32. Ridder is certainly worth a try. If he doesn’t work out all the wasted was a 3rd round pick finding out and no QB money to find out. On his rookie salary you can build a team around him like the eagles did with Hurts

    If the Falcons were to trade multiple draft picks for Mar and then “meet his value” they won’t be about to build as good of a team around him. Obviously Mar not working is very costly on multiple fronts.

    Beyond that Mar if Mar isn’t signing a long term contract with Baltimore he be available again next off season.

  33. No need to explain why you haven’t added him. Lame’s work product over the last two years does all the talking needed.

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