According to general manager Chris Ballard at this week’s NFL owners meetings in Phoenix, Arizona, the Indianapolis Colts haven’t ruled out trading for Baltimore Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson (via The Athletic’s Zak Keefer):
This was part of a long chat w/Ballard. Colts aren't ruling anything out + Lamar is absolutely worth a conversation. Drafting a QB obviously in play— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) March 27, 2023
"We feel good at 4. I'm not saying we won't move up. Not saying we won't move back. What I'm saying is we're still doing our work" https://t.co/esa0ONzsnf
A sentiment that was also shared by his new head coach Shane Steichen, who’s had a lot of prior success with a mobile quarterback, namely Philadelphia Eagles breakout star Jalen Hurts (via ESPN’s Stephen Holder):
Colts coach Shane Steichen on Lamar Jackson: "We do our due diligence on every position, whether it's the draft or free agency. But I've got no update for you on that one."— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) March 27, 2023
Not a yes or no, but tracks w what I've reported: The Colts haven't ruled out the possibility.
While it would still be shocking to see the Colts ultimately trade for Jackson given A) the draft capital required and B) the mega-contract extension requested, stranger things have happened—especially if the beginning of the draft doesn’t work out in the Colts favor at #4.
That being said, the safe bet is that the Colts will stay at #4 and select one of the top quarterbacks at that spot (*my guess is Florida’s Anthony Richardson). The reason the Colts aren’t shooting down their interest in Jackson right now is because they don’t want to tip their hand—although all signs point to Indianapolis taking a quarterback very early.
It’s also worth noting that ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is close with Colts team owner Jim Irsay as far as a direct reporting line and tweeted this out earlier on Monday afternoon:
A few teams (owners included) have discussed Jackson's case.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) March 27, 2023
One team was hesitant re: number of games/snaps & practices missed last 2 to 3 years vs $$$ invested. Also wonder whether his sleep habits and nutrition contribute to his absences.
Nobody speaks ill of his character.
There’s still a lot to be excited about regarding the former NFL MVP and NFL First-Team All-Pro, who’s arguably the most dynamic quarterback in all of football and still only 26 years old (and is a lot better passer than he often gets credit for).
With his special ability to run and throw, Jackson is dangerous both in the pocket and out in space—especially if deployed in Shane Steichen’s borrowed Philly offensive system.
He’s coming off a season in which he completed 203 of 326 passes (62.3%) for 2,242 passing yards, 17 passing touchdowns, and 7 interceptions, as well as amassed 764 total rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns on the ground during 12 starts.
That being said, whether it’s because of injuries or durability, Jackson has faded a bit down the stretch the past two seasons for Baltimore.
There’s no question he still has a handful of elite football still left, but for a Colts team that’s likely facing a short-term rebuild of at least a year or two, even with Jackson in the fold, does surrendering a king’s ransom of draft picks and salary cap dollars even make sense right now for Indy?
How will Jackson, who relies a lot on his speed and athleticism, age entering his early 30’s?
Those are all questions that any serious suitor, including the Colts, will have to answer.
At the end of the day, it still seems unlikely that Jackson ends up in Indianapolis, my guess is he remains with the Ravens—or maybe gets traded to another QB needy team like the Atlanta Falcons.
However, the fact that the Colts haven’t completely ruled it out means it’s still an option—even if it’s a distant one at this point.