What will the Baltimore Ravens do with Lamar Jackson? The franchise QB of the team for most of his career, Jackson's stay in Baltimore might be ending soon in some shape or form. Many are discussing a potential trade as the only way this ordeal ends. However, there's also the possibility that Lamar Jackson joins the loaded 2023 NFL free agency draft class. It would be an unwise decision (the best play for Baltimore if they decide against Jackson is to tag and trade him), but it's still a possible option.
If the Ravens decide to just let Lamar Jackson go to free agency… which team is the best option for the former MVP quarterback? Let's take a look at a few options and see where they can go from there.
Lamar Jackson wants a fat contract for himself. That much we already know about the negotiations between the Ravens star and the front office. There are reports that Jackson is looking for a contract in the same vein as what Deshaun Watson got from the Cleveland Browns: a fully guaranteed deal north of $230 million. That's a lot of money, which is why Baltimore is hesitant on giving him that deal.
There's one team in the opposite conference that could, theoretically, give, Lamar Jackson what he wants: the Atlanta Falcons. The NFC South team will have a LOT of cap space for the offseason, and are ready to make a splash. Depending on how negotiations go, they might even have some more money to add a couple of better weapons for Lamar.
That's not to say that Atlanta doesn't have weapons for Jackson to play with. The Falcons have been eternally frustrated at the coaching staff for failing to utilize Kyle Pitts well, as well as Drake London to an extent. Despite his flaws, Jackson is a much better passer than Marcus Mariotta. If Arthur Smith is willing to adapt, he can have a potent ground game that opens up the passing attack for Pitts and London to work their magic.
What has been the Ravens' biggest mistake with Lamar Jackson during his five-year run in Baltimore? The most obvious answer is their decision to skimp out on wide receiver talent around Jackson. Yes, he had some pretty good options in Hollywood Brown, Devin Duvernay. There's also Mark Andrews at tight end, who is almost exclusively played like a wide receiver.
However, the Ravens have never had a true WR1-level talent around Jackson. Having star WRs with your star QB is a recipe for success. Josh Allen has Stefon Diggs. Joe Burrow has Ja'Marr Chase. Jalen Hurts has AJ Brown. Patrick Mahomes is an exception this year, but he still had solid pieces around him (and of course, Travis Kelce). Also, he's Mahomes: more often than not, he's the exception to the rule.
With that in mind, the Miami Dolphins are probably one of the best NFL teams that Lamar Jackson can go to in free agency. Their wide receiver duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are excellent options for any QB. It also helps that they have an offensive-minded coach in Mike McDaniel who can adjust the offense if need. Jackson's rushing prowess will open up so many opportunities for the speedy Dolphins WR duo, and vice versa.
There's some logistical hurdles to overcome here: the Dolphins could very well keep Tua Tagovailoa around next year. Even if they decide to ditch Tua, Miami will need to move a couple of contracts to accommodate Jackson's contract demands. However, Tua's spotty injury history makes him a big question mark. If Lamar Jackson enters free agency, the Dolphins should be looking into things, at least.
The New York Jets front office and fanbase believes that their current team is one quarterback away from being a contender in the AFC. It's easy to see why: despite missing the playoffs, New York still had a solid record until before the trade deadline. Unfortunately, the terrible quarterback play from Zach Wilson ultimately doomed the team's playoff dreams.
This team has so much talent around the quarterback position. At wide receiver, you have a rising talent in Garrett Wilson and Elijah Moore, flanked by a veteran WR in Corey Davis . Tyler Conklin is a solid option at tight end, along with the dependable CJ Uzomah. And at running back, Breece Hall was tearing apart defenses before his season ended because of an ACL tear.
Lamar Jackson could very well be the missing piece that the Jets need in the NFL free agency. The New York offense could use another threat on the ground, and Jackson has shown that he can be effective with his arm when he's healthy. Jackson might also fall in love with the big market of the Big Apple, which is always a bonus.
Like Miami, the Jets will need to tinker with contracts in order to be able to sign Lamar Jackson. They're also looking at other potential QBs as an option (Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr). If these deals fall through, though, Jackson would be an excellent option for the Jets.