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When the Lamar Jackson and Aaron Rodgers Deals Could Get Done

After the draft could determine the future for the Ravens’ quarterback, while the Jets and Packers appear to be close to working out a trade before the end of the month.

There’s a conclusion we can all draw simply from the calendar—if a Lamar Jackson offer sheet was out there to be signed predraft, it’d have been negotiated and signed by now. Teams have too much tied up into their quarterback plans, and there’s too much invested in the position across the league, for anyone to arbitrarily wait until April.

But after the draft? Things could change.

We mentioned in this week’s mailbag the possibility that there’s a team or teams lurking with high-first-round picks that may not love this year’s class of draft-eligible quarterbacks, that may not want to give up a high-first-rounder to get Jackson, that could see a far more enticing window to try and poach Jackson postdraft.

At that point, another team would be giving up its 2024 and ’25 first-rounders to get Jackson, and, theoretically, such a team would probably think, with Jackson at quarterback, those first-rounders would land somewhere in the 20s, well below where their pick this year might be. It’s also fair to think that teams with younger coaches might be more open to changing their offense to accommodate Jackson, and there are a handful of those in the top 10.

April's NFL draft could be a determining factor when deals for an Aaron Rodgers trade to the Jets and a Lamar Jackson contract with the Ravens or another team.

Draft day (April 27) could become a big date on the calendar for Rodgers and Jackson.

Now, the flip side is that the concept comes with a lot of risk. If you’re a team without a great answer at quarterback and you pass on one early in the draft, waiting for Jackson is risky, in that the Ravens can match any offer. Also, while Baltimore has only $6.127 million in cap space, Jackson already counts $32.4 million against its cap, meaning another team loading up Year 1 in an offer probably couldn’t put enough in there to make it impossible for the Ravens to meet the money.

The other option, of course, would be for a team to work out a deal with Jackson, then work out a trade with Baltimore. Or for the Ravens and Jackson to make amends.

That, by the way, isn’t totally out of the picture. Things got ugly last week, for sure, with Jackson tweeting his trade request just as coach John Harbaugh was sitting down for his media session—I believe Harbaugh took his seat at 7:45 a.m. local time, with Jackson’s tweet thread time-stamped at 7:48 a.m. But I don’t think the team took any of it personally, and I think it still sees a deal to be done.

While it’s not on the table right now, last year the Ravens made a multiyear offer that had $133 million fully guaranteed at signing, a $175 million injury guarantee that would vest as a full guarantee early in the deal and another $25 million due in the fourth year that would become fully guaranteed in the third year. They’ve also been open to a shorter-term fully guaranteed deal, à la Kirk Cousins’s first Vikings deal (obviously, with bigger numbers). I also think, contrary to popular belief, Jackson has been open to different ideas.

So, to me, a new Ravens deal would come down to each side compromising a little, probably more than they already have.

Otherwise, draft day (April 27) will become the one on the calendar to watch.

You could say the same thing about the Packers, Jets and Aaron Rodgers.

My sense, at this point, is that the sides are in a good place, but not in a rush.

The draft, then, will become one tension point, just in that getting a current-year pick or two as part of a trade package would be important to the Packers. Another would be April 17, the day both teams start their offseason programs (OTAs, which are really the start of actual football practice, begin May 22 for both teams), which matters, because I’d expect Rodgers to be far more a part of that than he has been in recent years in Green Bay.

Either way, I think there’s been enough progress to think a deal is a relative certainty before the draft, and there’s a good chance, too, that Rodgers is officially a Jet before Robert Saleh addresses his team for the first time this offseason two weeks from today.

And, again, I think we’re probably talking, at this point, about what’s going to Green Bay along with a 2023 second-round pick and what conditions (if any) are on those future considerations. There are ways, of course, to protect everyone in this case, and the GMs involved, Joe Douglas and Brian Gutekunst, have a good relationship and are smart enough to do that creatively in the coming days.

So could it get done today? Yes. It might also happen the day before the draft. But, again, it’s coming.