INDIANAPOLIS – Lamar Jackson said on Monday he made a trade request to the Baltimore Ravens on March 2.
Should the Colts be making a call on the former NFL MVP?
The debate over trading for Jackson—and signing him to a lucrative contract + giving the Ravens two first-round picks—has many around the NFL pondering Jackson going to the quarterback-needy Colts.
Let’s weigh the pros and cons of the Colts trading for Jackson:
-Finally Taking Quarterback Swing: Easily the biggest pro of this move is the Colts would finally be taking a big quarterback swing in a conferenced loaded with answers at the most important position in sports.
Saving the Jackson health/playing style debate for later, this move would give the Colts an actual chance thanks to having such a dynamic talent at QB.
Ever since the Andrew Luck retirement just weeks before the 2019 season, the Colts have tried to patch work the QB position.
This move would give the Colts an answer in the short-term and for the duration of Jackson’s contract, thanks to him being just 26 years of age.
And it would come without having to debate the proven nature of the quarterback, given the elite level Jackson has already played at in the NFL.
-Give Shane Steichen MVP Quarterback: The quarterback-history of Shane Steichen constructing offenses around that position is well-document, and it’s very impressive.
Imagine what a Steichen-built offense would look like with one of the most electric players the NFL has seen in years?
Jackson would be in the same backfield as Jonathan Taylor, striking one of the most impressive QB/RB duos this league has seen in quite some time.
Last year in Philly, the Eagles had the 5th best rushing attack in the NFL with Steichen dialing up plays.
So, giving Steichen this backfield personnel would be extremely enticing.
Unlike in recent years, the Colts would strike some fear in an opposing defense presenting quite the challenge in defending Indianapolis.
-Injury/Playing Style Concern: Arguably the biggest question with Jackson is looking at his recent injury, and acknowledging the inevitable changes in his playing style.
It’s not just that Jackson has missed 11 of 34 games in the last two years, it’s when and where the injuries have occurred.
In each of the last two years, Jackson has suffered a lower body injury (ankle in 2021, knee in 2022). And both of those occurred in December, ending those campaigns at the most critical time of seasons.
So, the general wear tear of an NFL career and season, playing as a dual-threat quarterback, has sidelined Jackson in back-to-back years, with the Ravens in the middle of playoffs/division races.
While Jackson has shown he can throw it pretty well in the NFL, what makes him truly unique comes from what he can do with his legs.
As the years move along, the question is definitely there on if Jackson can maintain is rare style to the quarterback position.
If that track-like running ability of Jackson starts to revert closer to the rest of the pack, is Jackson still worth QB money at or near the top of anyone else in the NFL?
Yes, MVP-type quarterbacks still in their primes don’t become available often, but is Jackson’s prime shorter than other QBs?
Remember, he’s “available” by a team without a high first-round pick for a reason.
-Enough Already In Place?
Again, compensation for Jackson will be a contract that could be hovering around a full amount of guarantees, potentially north of $150 million, plus those two first-round picks.
Debating whether or not Jim Irsay would put up that money in escrow is something that must be discussed, especially given the Owner’s staunch conviction on past precedent among the league’s ownership.
If Irsay is willing to do that though, you are still trading away your next two first-round picks. And with one of those in 2024, that takes you out of Round 1 of a draft with potential franchise-changing talents in Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Marvin Harrison Jr.
That limits the type of team you can build around Jackson, which will be needing to rely more on early hits from rookies, given the Colts hypothetical seriously tightened cap situation, given what you’re playing that quarterback.
Most teams view the time to build around a QB while that player is still on a manageable rookie contract, but that wouldn’t be the case upon acquiring Jackson.
And if Jackson’s recent injury questions arise again, or his playing style starts to dip at all, it would be difficult for the Colts to pivot in a different direction at quarterback.
Would the arrival of Jackson push the Colts into the playoffs in 2023?
In a loaded-AFC, that’s no guarantee.
And team results like that would need to be there, especially when you factor in the contract length for him and the potential for a closing window as Jackson gets closer to the age of 30.
For me, the cons outweigh the pros when it comes to making a trade for Jackson.
Yes, there’s certainly risk in any quarterback move, whether that is this potential trade, or in drafting someone.
But the ramifications of this move would be really difficult to pivot from, with so much having to be thrown into the middle of the table.
Jackson on the Colts would unquestionably heighten the attention around this football team, and provide some energy for the fan base.
However, I don’t view the Colts as a definite contender in 2023 with Jackson under center, and would have some questions about how much longer they’d be getting that MVP-type of play.
Not only has Jackson’s availability gone down in recent years, his accuracy and efficiency have started to dip as the years have moved along
There’s no debating Jackson is a wonderful talent, and still young.
His skills, when healthy and on display, would ignite a fan base starving for something to energize them.
But the where/when his recent injuries have been, plus the price tag it would take to get a player the Ravens have yet to lock-up long-term, is too alarming for me to sign off on such a deal.
The best path, to me, for this team to try and achieve Jim Irsay’s lofty goal of multiple Super Bowls in a decade is still by drafting that answer at quarterback.
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