Should the Ravens draft Lamar Jackson's successor and then make plans to part ways with the former NFL MVP?
That was an idea initially proposed by the NFL Network's Bucky Brooks, who suggested the Ravens trade up to draft Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields if he falls to the mid-first round.
Baltimore then could trade Jackson as opposed to negotiating a new contact that will inevitably cost about $40 million per season. The Ravens could use those funds to build a deeper roster and add draft picks, Brooks contends.
Parting ways with Jackson is obviously a risky move because:
- Jackson, who was selected by the Ravens with the 32nd overall pick in the 2018 draft, has gone 30-7 as the starter in the regular season.
- He has thrown for 7,085 yards with 68 touchdowns and 18 interceptions over his young career.
- Jackson is also the only quarterback in NFL history to run for over 1,000 yards in two seasons and has 2,906 yards rushing and 19 scores overall.
- Jackson also won the first playoff game of his career this past season over the Tennessee Titans.
- History has shown that NFL teams without established franchise quarterbacks tend to struggle. For example, last season's Super Bowl featured two of the league's top playmakers — Tampa Bay's Tom Brady and Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes.
- Since 2018, Jackson has consistently ranked in the top 10 of depth-adjusted accuracy and situational accuracy — throwing relative to the first down line — despite having amongst the worst receivers in the NFL, according to QB Data Mine.
- Baltimore would be adopting a collegiate model that has turnover at quarterback every three or four years — a strategy that would be hard-pressed to work in the NFL.
- The Ravens would be facing a public-relations nightmare with their fans, a situation that would become even dire if the team struggles.
- Jackson's skillset would extremely difficult to duplicate with any quarterback in this year's draft.
This idea of parting ways with was probably met with some humor by the Ravens front office, which is fully committed to him over the long term. General manager Eric DeCosta expects to reach a new contract before he can test the free-agent market in 2023.
However, a new contract for Jackson will have some long-term implications to the overall roster.
"It will change the way that we do contracts, potentially," DeCosta said. "We will have to be probably a little bit more careful about which players we sign and which players we don’t sign. We may lose some good, young players. That’s unfortunately just the salary cap age that we’re in, and it happens to every single team.
"So, we’ll be aggressive, if possible. I think the Draft will continue and will always remain the lifeblood of this organization when it comes to building this team and building the roster, and Draft picks will be more important than ever.”
Still, it's a risk the Ravens are willing to take and that appears to be the best strategy moving forward.