On March 7, the Baltimore Ravens placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on Lamar Jackson. In doing so, they opened up for business. After struggling to come to terms on an extension with their star quarterback over the past two offseasons, they signaled their intention to play chicken with the league's other 31 teams.
Any of those teams can sign Jackson to an offer sheet, which the Ravens would then have five days to match. If they match, they keep their quarterback on the terms of that deal. If they decline, the other team has to send two first-round picks to Baltimore in return, with one coming in 2023 and the other in 2024.
Two first-round picks is the baseline for a deal, but it's not the only possibility. If the Ravens want to negotiate more creative compensation, Jackson would sign his franchise tag and then immediately be traded to his new team for whatever deal Baltimore negotiates.
We saw this happen in the past, as an example, when the Seahawks tagged Frank Clark in 2019 and then dealt him to the Chiefs for a first- and second-round pick as well as a swap of third-rounders. Typically, when teams tag and trade their franchise players, they land something less than two first-round picks. The Ravens could land something more creative. A team such as the Texans might not be willing to send two first-round picks, but such a team could offer the Ravens the No. 2 pick if they're willing to let Jackson sign his tender before a trade.
Speculation has suggested the Ravens will simply match whatever offer Jackson signs, and it might turn out general manager Eric DeCosta and the Baltimore brain trust will keep him. Given that the Ravens haven't yet been able to come to terms with Jackson on an extension, though, opening up the bidding to 31 other teams makes it more likely Jackson will receive the sort of contract Baltimore was already loath to give the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner.
All of this opens up an opportunity to discuss something we don't normally see in the NFL: How much should a team be willing to pay for a 26-year-old quarterback with an MVP on his résumé? Those guys almost never hit the open market, and although Jackson isn't an unrestricted free agent, this is the closest an elite quarterback in his prime has come to that opportunity in many years.
And yet, the immediate interest after Jackson was tagged seemed tepid. A handful of teams suggested through various reports they weren't interested in pursuing a deal. Some of those teams went in other directions, as the Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo, while the Panthers traded up for the No. 1 overall pick, which they are sure to use on a quarterback. Other teams, such as the Falcons, still have major questions about their quarterback situation, both now and into the future.
Let's take a deep dive into the Lamar Jackson trade universe and what happens next. I'll run through each of the 13 teams that should have a conversation about trading for Jackson, why each should or shouldn't make the move, whether Jackson should waive his de facto no-trade clause to make the deal and what the compensation would look like. In some cases, the easiest deal would be to sign Jackson to an offer sheet and give up two first-round picks. In others, teams might have to get creative and involve other picks or players to trade for Jackson.
Note: We originally published this story in the immediate aftermath of the Jackson announcement, but after three weeks of transactions and Jackson's confirmation of his trade request, we've updated it to include new information and removed teams that are now out of the mix: