Lamar Jackson is ready to move on from the Ravens. At least that is what Pro Football Talk is reporting. According to the report, an uncertified representative has been contacting teams on Jackson’s behalf in order to attempt to work out a potential offer sheet.
ESPN’s Stephen Holder has reported that Indianapolis has not ruled out a run at the former MVP. So how can the Indianapolis Colts flip the draft upside down and land Jackson and will they actually make it happen?
Likely Cost of Jackson
It has been highly speculated that Jackson is seeking out a deal similar to that of Deshaun Watson’s contract with the Browns. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk stated “the person has said that Jackson does not want a fully-guaranteed contract... Some regard this as a possible exercise in semantics, with Jackson still wanting a very significant amount fully guaranteed... with one or more non-guaranteed years on the back end.”
Thanks to Jackson’s Twitter, we know he turned down a three-year, $133 million fully guaranteed offer, coming in at a little over $44 million average annual value. Watson, on the other hand, was given a fully guaranteed five-year deal worth $230 million, or $46 million annually. Given the off-the-field issues surrounding Watson prior to the extension and the general difference in on-field production, Jackson likely wants to exceed Watson’s average annual value.
133/3years fully guaranteed but I need a agent? ♂️— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) March 14, 2023
So how could the Colts structure Jackson’s deal in order to secure a deal and steer off Baltimore from simply matching the offer? Spotrac calculates the Colts' cap space at around $21 million, leaving only a little wiggle room.
Indy could offer a six-year deal with over $200 million guaranteed. However, in order to make it work in the early years and minimize the cap hits, the Colts would have to dish out a larger signing bonus that is prorated over the length of the deal while keeping the base salary on the lower end for the first year or two.
With a longer deal with over $200 million guaranteed and a massive signing bonus, Jackson would likely accept the offer while keeping the Ravens out of the equation.
Will the Colts Make the Move?
There are 1,000 different factors playing into the Jackson dilemma. But honestly, it should be a no-brainer for Jim Irsay, Chris Ballard, and Shane Steichen. Trading for a 26-year-old MVP-caliber quarterback is no easy feat, but with a cost of only two first-round picks, it’s too hard to pass up on.
Irsay has the money to pony up a nearly-to-fully guaranteed deal and Ballard is absolutely desperate to find a long-term solution at the position. And Steichen will be drooling thinking about Jackson’s fit in his offensive scheme. If the Colts don’t fall in love with either Anthony Richardson or Will Levis over the next five weeks, there could certainly be a play for the Ravens’ QB.
In another fun scenario, Ballard could put all the chips in the pot, take the best player available with the fourth overall pick, and attempt to sign Jackson after the draft. The Colts would give up their 2024 and 2025 first-round picks, but drafting a defensive game-changer or top offensive lineman early in the first and then adding Jackson following the draft could be well worth the risk.