The Jets appear to be all in on Aaron Rodgers, viewing him as the missing piece, a franchise-altering superstar with the poise and experience to at last push New York and its long-suffering fanbase over the top. But if that pursuit fails, the Jets could be a late entrant to the Lamar Jackson Sweepstakes, assuming they have the assets to pull off a trade of that magnitude.
Any team staking its future to Jackson understands the risks—the 26-year-old hasn’t been a picture of health by any means, playing a rugged, at times reckless style that lends itself to injury. Of course, athletes of Jackson’s elite caliber don’t exactly grow on trees, an unprecedented dual threat with unrivaled playmaking ability. The question is how much would the Jets be willing to pay for a coveted talent who, by all accounts, will not come cheap?
“I think they will go after Rodgers, if he does play. And if they don’t get him, I think they will at least put their sniffers out and seriously consider Lamar Jackson,” NBC Sports insider Peter King opined to Rich Eisen. “He’s probably going to be given the franchise tag, and the less restrictive one. So to see if there are any offers out there, that the Ravens then would be able to get two first-round picks as compensation, let’s see what happens. To me, finding out whether some team out there is willing to pay Lamar Jackson a gillion dollars, guaranteed, I think that is the story of the offseason.”
While interviewing candidates for their offensive coordinator vacancy, the Ravens couldn’t guarantee that Jackson would be the team’s quarterback next season, suggesting contract talks have stalled between the two sides. The former MVP recently walked away from a six-year, $290-million extension, though only $133 million of that was guaranteed. Complicating matters, Jackson isn’t currently represented by an agent, preferring to negotiate on his own behalf.
“Obviously, anybody would want Lamar Jackson to be the quarterback of the team. But how much guaranteed money are you willing to give a player who in the last two years has missed 34 percent of the snaps because of injury?” asked King, citing a knee injury that cost Jackson the final six games of 2022. “I think the Jets are going to have a very tough decision on their hands.”
The Ravens have until March 7th to use their franchise tag on Jackson, which would pay him upwards of $32 million. Teams have been known to franchise players for the sole purpose of trading them, a method the Packers employed last offseason when they dealt Davante Adams in a tag-and-trade with Las Vegas.