Lamar Jackson, An Obvious Prize, Makes Sense For Indianapolis Colts, And Here Are The Reasons Why

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If you haven’t actually seen what Lamar Jackson is capable of doing then perhaps some statistics about what he’s done…

Are you paying attention, Colts?

Over the past five years he has basically been neck-and-neck with Patrick Mahomes on multiple levels.

Winning percentage? Mahomes has helped the Kansas City Chiefs to a .797 win percentage which leads the NFL. Jackson, playing for the Baltimore Ravens, is second at .738.

Production? Jackson and Mahomes are the only players in the 103-year history of the NFL to begin their careers throwing at least 100 TD passes while limiting their interceptions to fewer than 40.

Jackson, the so-called running quarterback, has thrown 101 TD passes and 38 interceptions in 70 games. Tom Brady, the most prolific passer of all time, threw 105 TD passes and 56 interceptions in his first 70 games.

Free Agency Ongoing Without Lamar Jackson

So how is it NFL free agency has entered its second day and multiple teams apparently are not yet banging on Jackson’s door in South Florida with intentions of prying him from the Ravens?

How is it, on the other hand, that multiple teams in both word and deed have decided Jackson is not the best course even when their present course seems much less well charted?

It’s complicated.

The Ravens applied the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson on March 7 and the sides have until July 17 to negotiate a long term contract. In the meantime, Jackson costs $32.4 million on the Baltimore salary cap and any team getting him away from Baltimore must give up two first-round picks.

That’s not the biggest problem. Officials from multiple NFL teams speaking anonymously to OutKick said they believe the Ravens will simply match any offer someone else writes.

“You’re basically writing a contract for them and we don’t work for the Baltimore Ravens,” one NFC front office person said.

Jackson on the franchise tag is a situation neither he nor the Ravens cherish, but both have been building toward during two years of not negotiating (at first) and then negotiating without results on a long-term contract.

Majority owner Steve Bisciotti of the Baltimore Ravens walks the sidelines before the game against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium on September 29, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Ravens Ownership Balks At Full Guarantee

Then there’s the other problem: Jackson wants a fully guaranteed or almost fully guaranteed contract on par with Deshaun Watson’s fully guaranteed $230 million contract with the Browns.

And Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti is not a fan of that deal and obviously doesn’t want to be seconding that approach.

“…It doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to play that game, you know? We shall see,” Bisciotti said at the NFL Meetings last year.

More issues for Jackson?

Firstly, he has no agent. That means he has no advocate reaching out to the teams to try to make a case for him.

Secondly, he has missed 11 games the past two seasons. And one team pointed to this as a “significant” problem, saying players with durability issues typically come with less guarantee they’ll be in the lineup. So it makes little sense to give them full contract guarantees.

And finally, there’s the fact some teams don’t want to change their entire offense for one player.

And still … Lamar Jackson is dang good, folks.

So will any team step forward?

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – AUGUST 17: Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay on the field before the preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 17, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

Jackson Makes Most Sense For Colts

Two teams make sense for Lamar, although only one can do it in the near future.

The San Francisco 49ers make some sense because, despite their obvious commitment to Trey Lance and love for Brock Purdy, neither is Lamar Jackson.

The 49ers gave up multiple first-round picks for the right to pick Lance. And Jackson is light years better at this point and more proven.

But the 49ers have no first-round pick so there are compensation and timing issues involved.

The team that makes the most (only?) sense to want Jackson is the Indianapolis Colts.

They need a starter. And short of drafting one with their No. 4 overall selection, the Colts are in QB purgatory again with a bridge guy such as Nick Foles, who is on the roster, or unproven Sam Ehlinger.

Jackson’s style makes sense for their personnel and new coach Shane Steichen, who helped turn Jalen Hurts into one of the better dual-threat quarterbacks in the NFL.

The Colts have approximately $12 million in cap space. But they could raise that amount to around $41 million, according to, by doing simple contract restructures of Shaquille Leonard, DeForest Buckner and Braden Smith.

That would be more than enough cap space to fit Jackson under the cap, draft and address the rest of their necessary 2023 roster moves.

The questions are: can the Colts pay the enormous sum of guaranteed money required to make this work, do it in a manner that would dissuade the Ravens from matching, and give up the premium picks to make it all work?

“Look, flying to the moon seemed impossible once,” one NFC South team official said. “But we did it. It’s not impossible if you want it bad enough.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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