Are the Commanders right to ignore Lamar Jackson possibility?

(Jessica Rapfogel-USA TODAY Sports) Lamar Jackson
(Jessica Rapfogel-USA TODAY Sports) Lamar Jackson /

Are the Washington Commanders right to ignore the possibility of bringing quarterback Lamar Jackson from the Baltimore Ravens?

The Baltimore Ravens slapped the non-exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Lamar Jackson. But it didn’t take long for numerous teams to begin leaking information to various beat reporters that they were out.

Among those were the Washington Commanders, who are not expected to risk it all for Jackson. A move that caused division among a fanbase that’s been crying out for consistent quarterback play for a long, long time.

The Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins, Las Vegas Raiders, and Atlanta Falcons also ruled themselves out of the running in quick succession. A strange turn of events considering Jackson’s elite capabilities and everything he’s accomplished since entering the league.

This reeks of collusion. NFL owners are clearly sending a message that even though the Cleveland Browns gave Deshaun Watson a fully guaranteed deal to sell his switch from the Houston Texans, this is not going to become commonplace.

Commanders need QB options, but won’t go bold for Lamar Jackson

Something Jackson is finding out to his cost. And if all the aforementioned teams go through with their initial intent, it makes things extremely difficult for the former NFL MVP to get what he wants.

Of course, this could change. But from the Commanders’ point of view, are they right to ignore the possibility of Jackson coming into the organization, which would propel them into contenders as soon as the papers are signed?

The benefits of landing Jackson are evident. He is an All-Pro performer entering his prime, so teams should be beating down the door to secure his services at a cost of just two first-round selections in accordance with non-exclusive tag regulations.

There is a small matter of Jackson’s contract. The one-time Louisville standout wants something similar to what the Browns gave Watson, which the Ravens are apparently reluctant to offer and others around the league also appear unwilling to make such a large financial commitment.

The Commanders could move some money around to make this happen. But this would hinder their ability to strengthen other problem positional groups such as the offensive line, which is in desperate need of an upgrade.

In an ideal world, everything would already be in place for Washington to make this sort of bold move. That isn’t the case, so moving forward with Sam Howell or someone else represents a cheaper alternative that can hopefully bear fruit.

Even if there’s no guarantee of that whatsoever.

Ron Rivera is under enormous pressure to get things right in 2023. The addition of Eric Bieniemy to his staff means there are no more excuses and the potential of new ownership before competitive action begins only raises the stakes further heading into Year 4 of his tenure.

Jackson would instantly legitimize what the Commanders are molding and put the entire NFC on notice. Until Howell puts a consistent run of games together and demonstrates growth, he won’t be striking fear into an NFL defense anytime soon.

What happens with Jackson after widespread disinterest is anyone’s guess. But it’s going to set a landmark precedent for good or bad.

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