Five possible Lamar Jackson destinations this NFL offseason originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The NFL’s best free agent is one step closer to finalizing his plans for next season.
Despite leading the Baltimore Ravens to a 10-7 record and the No. 6 seed in the AFC, quarterback Lamar Jackson has spent much of the past year in limbo. The 2019 NFL MVP finished the fifth and final year of his rookie contract with the team that drafted him No. 32 overall in 2018.
After another offseason stretch that ended unsuccessfully without a deal between the two sides, the Ravens announced that they were applying the non-exclusive tag to Jackson right before the 4 p.m. Tuesday deadline. That isn't the end of the story, however, in Baltimore.
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While the open market no longer remains an option, the former league MVP is free to continue discussions with other teams. If Jackson accepts an offer sheet from any team, the Ravens have the opportunity to match the offer and keep him or collect two first-round picks as compensation.
Here are five NFL teams that Jackson would make sense for in 2023:
Michael Vick fans would be fond of this idea. The Falcons could’ve won the NFC South this season despite shuffling between Marcus Mariota and rookie Desmond Ridder.
Mariota is the vet and the jury is out on Ridder, but adding Jackson is a no-brainer, especially because the Falcons have good money entering the offseason.
Fifth-round rookie Tyler Allgeier racked up 1,035 rushing yards and Cordarelle Patterson enjoyed a solid season switching from wideout to running back. Drake London had an encouraging rookie campaign while Kyle Pitts, a 1,000-yard-receiving tight end as a rookie, would return from injured reserve.
They’ll need more weapons and defensive solidity to be viewed as legitimate contenders, but with Tom Brady out of Tampa Bay, Atlanta can reclaim the throne in the division. It also might be the acquisition that puts offensive-minded head coach Arthur Smith on the map.
Matt Lombardo of Heavy Sports reported that talks between the Falcons and Jackson "progressed tremendously" recently so keep a close eye on the Peach State.
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For this to work, the Dolphins would have to move around some money as they’re tight on cap space. But if Lamar Jackson is in the cards, there’s no doubt they could look to make a move.
Jackson, who is from Pompano Beach right next to Miami, would definitely be enticed by the prospect of teaming with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle under exciting young, offensive-minded head coach Mike McDaniel.
As good as Tua Tagovailoa was in his third year, his concussion history and injury history in general are risky. Jackson is just two years older and would immediately make Miami a contender next season, backed by a solid defense when all the pieces are intact.
Owner Stephen Ross is known for courting some of the league’s biggest stars (i.e. Tom Brady), so you have to think the Dolphins are serious threats to land the hometown kid.
If he isn’t returning home, staying near Baltimore would very much be plausible.
Head coach Ron Rivera is one of the best man managers in the league, and Jackson would be surrounded by a young offensive core. Terry McLaurin is the star, while Jahan Dotson had a propitious rookie campaign and Curtis Samuel provided a solid veteran presence. Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson could be in line for bigger seasons next year, too.
Taylor Heinicke is not a long-term option and the much like Ridder, the jury is still out on Sam Howell, but Washington did well to fight for a playoff spot until the very end in a division where three teams qualified for the postseason. Jackson’s addition would definitely boost them to the top as the Commanders had one of the league’s elite defenses.
By bringing in a new team owner and adding the face of the franchise in Jackson, Washington would definitely return as one of the NFL’s most commanding teams.
New York Jets
The Jets have made it clear -- Zach Wilson is not the long-term answer. However, they're coming off one of their best seasons in recent years and seem to have momentum heading into the season with several promising stars including Quinnen Williams and Sauce Gardner.
The franchise currently holds the longest playoff drought in the NFL and seems to think fixing the quarterback issue is the solution to their problems.
The Jets are one of the rumored landing spots for Aaron Rodgers, but head coach Robert Saleh would perfectly be pleased with the addition of Jackson.
The Titans make the cut only because they can give Jackson a significant cut: They have the most cap space going into the 2023 offseason, according to Spotrac.
Derrick Henry is the star pairing here, but Ryan Tannehill, who can hit unrestricted free agency in 2024, and Malik Willis are not reliable long-term options under center.
The jury is still out on Willis, but Jackson is a clear and obvious upgrade that bolsters Tennessee in the AFC and its division, which was won by a 9-8 Jacksonville Jaguars squad on the final week of the regular season – against Josh Dobbs and the Titans.
Head coach Mike Vrabel and Co. can use that cash to bolster other departments, as well, primarily at the skill positions to give Jackson real options. Robert Woods can’t be the leading receiver next season. It’s not an exciting destination, but it does make sense.
Houston Texans – Brandin Cooks and promising rookie RB Dameon Pierce are the headliners, and Houston could solve its recent problems by adding a franchise signal caller. The Texans do have the No. 2 pick in the upcoming draft so taking a rookie quarterback is certainly in the cards, but you can't exclude them from any list for potential quarterback destinations.