During his half-hour media availability at the NFL ownership meetings in Phoenix on Monday, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick made an interesting statement.
“We’re not afraid to do whatever we need to do that will help the team,” he said. “Whatever that is.”
Could that “whatever” be making a massive investment into a player who surprisingly has become available? Possibly, especially given that said player may or may not have expressed his desire to join Belichick and company in New England.
The player in question, of course, is Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Jackson is one of the league’s best players, but his contract negotiations with the Ravens have not yielded any results so far — leading to him requesting a trade, and the organization answering by applying the franchise tag. Things do not appear to be well between the two parties, giving the Patriots an opportunity to swoop in and pick the QB up.
At the league meetings, Jackson’s status was front and center. And while Belichick would unsurprisingly not comment on him or his status, team owner Robert Kraft did touch the topic: he told reporters after a Q&A session that he had received a text from rapper Meek Mill that Jackson would apparently want to join the Patriots.
Whether that is true or not, Jackson is an intriguing prospect. Is he also one worth pursuing, though? Let’s try to find out.
Why the Patriots should pursue Lamar Jackson
This one is pretty simple: Lamar Jackson is really good at this football thing. A first-round draft pick in 2018, he was named league MVP in just his second season and has been one of the league’s premier playmakers ever since.
The numbers speak for themselves. In a combined 74 regular season and playoff games over his five NFL seasons, Jackson has completed 63.1 percent of his pass attempts for 13,109 yards, 104 touchdowns and 43 interceptions; he also has gained 6.2 yards on his 781 rushing attempts and scored 25 times.
With Jackson in the lineup, the Ravens have gone 45-16 in the regular season as well as 1-3 in the playoffs. Baltimore has had only one losing season since his arrival, back in 2021 when Jackson missed five games; the team still went 7-5 when he was available.
Statistics tell only one part of the story when it comes to Jackson, though.
The film adds more context — and it shows a quarterback who has some serious top-five potential. Jackson, after all, is more than “just” the running quarterback he oftentimes is portrayed as: he is a true dual-threat, capable of putting stress on opposing defenses with both his right arm and his legs.
He combines natural arm talent with strong discipline and anticipation, and is accurate delivering the football at all levels of the field.
Lamar Jackson winning with eye discipline, touch, and ball placement pic.twitter.com/CqTLhUmMR0— Taylor Kyles (@tkyles39) March 28, 2023
Lamar Jackson the passer has had some impressive moments since arriving in the league, but one has to wonder whether or not he has reached his ceiling. The Ravens offense, after all, has been run-centric under offensive coordinator Greg Roman in the quarterback’s four seasons as the undisputed starter.
Roman is as good as anybody at drawing up the run, but his passing concepts left a lot to be desired. Add the fact that the receiver positions were a revolving door outside of tight end Mark Andrews, and it is not hard to see why a) Lamar Jackson might not have reached his peak yet, and b) he is being billed as more of a runner than a passer.
Make no mistake, though, Jackson can run very well. Just ask Bill Belichick.
“He’s very fast, and he’s definitely a hard guy to handle,” Belichick said ahead of his team’s first encounter with Jackson in 2019. “That’s definitely a problem. He’s fast, and that’s really a big problem. A lot of times, he just outruns people.
“He’s got good moves, too — I’m not saying that. But a lot of times, he just outruns people with his speed. Catching him is an issue, especially when he keeps the ball. A lot of times he’s running against a defensive end, and the ends just aren’t fast enough. They have him, but they don’t have him. He’s a problem. He’s definitely a problem.”
Just last season, the Patriots had to see Jackson gain 110 rushing yards and score a touchdown on just eight non-kneel-down runs. They had no answers for him in a 37-26 loss.
Jackson’s production on the ground has partially been the result of Roman’s run-centric scheme and play-calling, but he has also shown that he can succeed outside of structure. That is true both from a passing and a running perspective; Jackson is similar to Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen in that regard: he just has that natural feel for finding open space without panicking.
— Taylor Kyles (@tkyles39) March 28, 2023
Folks tend to see athletic QBs and assume they're impatient in the pocket or thrive on improvisation. I assure you, the out-of-structure playmaking is a bonus with Lamar
That said, it's a really really big bonus pic.twitter.com/HSiAoWqZL6
The Patriots adding a player of that caliber to the mix would instantly give them a significant boost in the arms race the AFC East has begun. Incumbent quarterback Mac Jones may or may not be able to do that as well in 2023, but the jury is still out on him.
Jackson, on the other hand, has shown what he can be: an MVP-level player who has a transformative effect on an offense — both through his elite playmaking abilities, and his potential as a pull factor for free agents or trade candidates.
Why the Patriots should not pursue Lamar Jackson
First things first, the scheme is not why New England might want to steer clear from Jackson. While, yes, the Patriots are running a different offense compared to what Jackson was working with in Baltimore, there is little doubt coordinator Bill O’Brien would be able to adapt to get the most out of him.
The concerns when it comes to pursuing Jackson have more to do with economics: he will not be cheap, in more ways than one.
For starters, the Ravens hold Jackson’s rights at the moment. He made a trade request public and it at least seems possible he has put on a Baltimore uniform for the last time, but the organization still has control over him applying the franchise tag earlier this month; even if he does not sign what is effectively a one-year contract, the team currently holds the cards.
Of course, the Ravens did invite other teams to pursue Jackson. By applying the non-exclusive tag, other clubs can talk to him and sign him to an offer sheet; Baltimore would have five days to match in that scenario or receive two first-round draft picks as compensation should it not.
So, it would cost two first-rounders to bring Jackson in? Not necessarily. The Patriots and Ravens could also work out a trade that would include different compensation; Jackson would then sign the tag and move to the Patriots for whatever is agreed upon — similar to how the Las Vegas Raiders and Green Bay Packers manufactured the Davante Adams trade last offseason.
That being said, the price will still be steep: Jackson, as noted above, is an elite talent and as such the Ravens will not let him leave for cheap. A first-round pick will be the minimum that has to be exchanged, with the total value approaching those two Day 1 selections required by the franchise tag.
The Patriots being willing to part with draft capital is just one part of the equation, though. Jackson would also need a new deal, and it will not be cheap.
The 26-year-old is rumored to be looking for a fully-guaranteed deal that will rival the one Deshaun Watson signed in Cleveland last year — a five-year pact worth $230 million. The Patriots as a team are valued at over $6.4 billion, with owner Robert Kraft worth $10.6 billion. But while the team’s resources are virtually limitless, the NFL salary cap very much is not.
At the moment, the Patriots are just $12.9 million under the cap, according to Miguel Benzan. They might be able to fit Jackson in via the use of a comparatively small salary in combination with his signing bonus, but there is only so low they can go. The signing bonus proration alone would likely force New England to make moves to free up cap space; using Watson as a benchmark, it would be roughly $18 million per year.
Obviously, timing and mode of acquisition are important here. Say Jackson is acquired via trade after having signed his franchise tag tender but not immediately signed to a new deal; his cap hit would be the franchise tag number of $32.4 million. An offer sheet to pry him away that way would likely come in even higher than that to prevent Baltimore from matching.
What would help the Patriots is the fact that the salary cap is somewhat flexible. The team could opt to do a salary-to-signing-bonus conversion with some of its players to limit their 2023 cap hit; Matthew Judon or David Andrews are prime candidates. However, these can get you only so far while pushing money into the future — a future that will see the cap grow, but likely also Jackson’s impact on it.
The easiest way to find the cap space necessary to acquire Jackson would be to make some cuts: Hunter Henry, Trent Brown, Devante Parker, Kendrick Bourne or Deatrich Wise Jr. might all be on the chopping block in that case. Jackson is good enough to compensate for some talent being removed as part of his acquisition, but one has to wonder whether a team like the Patriots — whose roster-building philosophy puts a premium on depth rather than relying too much on individual players — would be willing to thin the herd like that.
The economics are not the only uncertainty. There are also questions about Jackson himself, most prominently about his durability.
While an elite player when healthy, he has not always been that. He has not played a full season since taking over as Baltimore’s starter in 2019, and injuries have started to mount the last two seasons in particular; Jackson missed a total of six games in 2021 (illness, ankle), and five more in 2022 (knee).
Giving him a massive fully-guaranteed contract would be a risk, especially if you financially commit to having him on your roster into his 30s. The Patriots have never shied away from taking risks, but their MO under Bill Belichick has been looking for value: Would Jackson, for as good as he can be, be that if he commands 20 percent of cap space?
And then there’s another factor to consider, as well: Mac Jones.
As noted above, the jury is still out on him but there is optimism he will bounce back in 2023 under an improved coaching setup led by recently-hired coordinator Bill O’Brien. Jones has his limitations, but he has shown that he can be an effective NFL quarterback — and certainly effective enough to lead New England for the foreseeable future.
The Patriots appear to be committed to him, even with Belichick not publicly guaranteeing he will be the starter next year. All of that could very well change in case things go south this upcoming season, but as of March 2023 he looks like New England’s QB1 and a player the team is willing to build around.
What will the Patriots do?
That is the multi-million dollar question, and one that will not be answered until further down the line.
Fact is, Lamar Jackson is an elite talent at the quarterback position and a player capable of elevating the Patriots or most other teams he could realistically join. Adding him to the equation would give New England’s offense a ceiling it might never reach with Mac Jones under center.
That all said, the questions surrounding him are manifold: from his contractual demands, to the investment needed to bring him in in the first place, to the team’s current setup with Jones in the middle. If the Patriots do feel confident answering those questions, they might pursue Jackson; they surely would be able to find a way to fit him onto the team and play productive football even with some tough cuts having to be made.
However, it all goes back to the question of value. And Bill Belichick and company would likely place only so much on a single player: Jackson being worth multiple high draft picks, plus a massive financial commitment, plus several player releases, seems like a stretch based on how New England has operated through the years.
Unless Belichick wants to push all his poker chips into the middle of the table to either go big or go broke with Jackson — something that would go against his track record — the Patriots bringing him in seems like a long-shot.
It was a fun bit of offseason speculation, but reality has now set in: the New England Patriots will not be pursuing quarterback Lamar Jackson, as first reported by Jeff Howe of The Athletic.What is Lamar Jackson's record against the Patriots? ›
Lamar Jackson is 2-1 versus the Patriots in his career.What were the Patriots before New England? ›
Founded in 1959 as the “Boston Patriots,” the team was an original member of the American Football League (AFL). The Patriots joined the NFL during the 1970 AFL/NFL merger. They changed their name to the New England Patriots when they moved to Foxborough, MA. in 1971.
That and a first-rounder in 2024 would be a bargain for Jackson. Tennessee also should have enough cap space to add Jackson. They make plenty of sense, even after committing to Ryan Tannehill, who is just not good enough at this point in his career to carry a team.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Record-setting Tom Brady threw six touchdown passes and the New England Patriots sent the hapless Tennessee Titans plummeting to a new low in their winless season with a 59-0 win on a snowy Sunday.How many times has Lamar Jackson faced Tom Brady? ›
Jackson has only faced Brady's team once during his career, back in 2019 when the Ravens rolled to a 37-20 victory over the Patriots during Brady's last season in New England.What is the oldest NFL team? ›
The Chicago Cardinals founded in 1898 (joined the NFL in 1920), now the Arizona Cardinals) is the oldest NFL franchise. League membership gradually stabilized throughout the 1920s and 1930s as the league adopted progressively more formal organization. The first official championship game was held in 1933.Which state has 3 NFL teams? ›
States With NFL Teams
There are a total of 23 states that presently have NFL teams. California and Florida have the highest number of NFL teams across these states, with a total of three teams. Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas come next, with two teams each.
Patriots supported the cause of liberty and independence for the colonies, which meant active support of the war effort. Most Patriots had religious commitments that prevented them from joining a side, even though it made them unpopular.What teams want Lamar? ›
- Atlanta Falcons.
- Carolina Panthers.
- Detroit Lions.
- Indianapolis Colts.
- New England Patriots.
- New York Jets.
- San Francisco 49ers.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- New York Jets.
- Carolina Panthers.
- Houston Texans.
- Minnesota Vikings.
- Detroit Lions.
- Atlanta Falcons.
- Washington Commanders.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Lamar Jackson is staying with the Baltimore Ravens, at least for now. The Ravens are using the franchise tag on the former MVP quarterback, after the team and Jackson failed to reach a contract extension despite negotiations over the last two years.Who is Patriots #1 receiver? ›
|WR||JuJu Smith-Schuster||Ty Montgomery|
|QB||Mac Jones||Bailey Zappe|
|RB||Pierre Strong Jr.||Pierre Strong Jr.|
Today, the series continues with fourth-year running back Damien Harris.Has an NFL team ever went 16 0? ›
The 2007 New England Patriots were the first NFL team to achieve a perfect 16-0 regular season record, and seemed destined to go down as the greatest team ever until their stunning defeat in Super Bowl XLII.What NFL team has gone undefeated? ›
Apart from the 1972 Dolphins, three NFL teams have completed undefeated and untied regular seasons: the 1934 Chicago Bears, the 1942 Chicago Bears, and the 2007 New England Patriots.Does Brady have a losing record against a team? ›
First, Brady does not have a losing record against any NFL team and had a winning record against 30 teams.
The biggest margin of victory in NFL history for a regular-season game is held by the Rochester Jeffersons, who beat Fort Porter, a non-league team, in 1920, winning 66-0. The largest margin of victory between two NFL teams occurred in 1934, when the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Cincinnati Reds 64-0.What was the coldest Patriots football game? ›
The Patriots defeated the Tennessee Titans in a frigid 2003 divisional playoff game on January 10, 2004. The temperature at kickoff was 4 degrees, with a wind chill feel of -10, making it the coldest game in Patriots history. The Patriots won 17-14 to kick start their second Super Bowl championship playoff run.What was the coldest Patriots game? ›
The Pats' coldest game to date was a 2004 divisional-round home game against Tennessee, which opened at four degrees with a minus-10 wind chill. They closed out a hard-fought 17-14 win that night, a distant memory frozen in NFL history.Has Lamar Jackson beaten Tom Brady? ›
Brady was the first. Jackson's MVP run included a 37-20 victory over the Patriots in the only time he has faced Brady. Jackson scored three touchdowns, running for two, as he outdueled Brady, who threw a TD pass and an interception.What did Tom Brady say to Lamar Jackson? ›
Before the game, Brady sought out Jackson and told him, "You're doing some great stuff. Keep it up, man.Is Tom Brady the all time passing leader? ›
Regular season career passing yards leaders.
|Team(s) by season||New England Patriots (2000–2019) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2020–2022)|
The Green Bay Packers were founded in 1919 when the Indian Packing Company agreed to sponsor a pro football team under the direction of Earl "Curly" Lambeau. The team joined the NFL in 1921 and is the third-oldest franchise in the league.What NFL team has the oldest fans? ›
They have one of the oldest and most established fan bases in the league, despite winning just one Super Bowl in their history.
The oldest logo in the NFL, which is still being used belongs to the Dallas Cowboys. The current Cowboys logo was first used in 1964 and has not been changed since.Who is the #1 NFL team? ›
1. Kansas City Chiefs. The Kansas City Chiefs are a dynasty.
- NRG Stadium. Houston, TX. Opened: 2002. Capacity: 72,220. ...
- NRG Stadium. Houston, TX. Opened: 2002. Capacity: 72,220. ...
- Hometown. Houston, TX. Population: 2,228,250 (2021) ...
- Team Colors. Deep Steel Blue/Battle Red. 3/3.
Biggest Weakness: Cornerbacks
It doesn't require much imagination to see that cornerback group getting exposed in a man-heavy scheme. That could force the Patriots into more zone coverage in 2022.
- Franchise Granted: November 22, 1959 as the Boston Patriots.
- First Season: 1960.
- Changed name to New England Patriots: 1971.
- Stadium: Gillette Stadium.
- Super Bowl Championships: XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX.
- AFC Championships: ...
- AFL Eastern Division Championship: ...
- AFC Eastern Division Championship:
Patriots: colonists who rebelled against British control during the American Revolution. republicanism: the social and political philosophy which rejected the ideas of a monarchy and aristocracy and favored liberty and unalienable individual rights.What is Lamar Jackson's record against the AFC North? ›
Lamar Jackson has a 14-8 record against the AFC North in his career.Who beat the undefeated Patriots? ›
The Giants defeated the Patriots by the score of 17–14 with the now well known "Helmet Catch" often being considered the best Super Bowl catch of all time. Many also consider this game the biggest upset of all time. The game was played on February 3, 2008, at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.What is the Eagles record against the Patriots? ›
The Philadelphia Eagles are 7-6 versus the Patriots all-time.Who has better stats Lamar Jackson or Josh Allen? ›
Josh Allen vs. Lamar Jackson.
|Josh Allen QB - BUF Josh Allen QB - BUF||Lamar Jackson QB - BAL Lamar Jackson QB - BAL|
Jackson has played just five games in his career against the Steelers and is 2-3 in those games. Nevertheless, any time there is a chance that one of the top players in the AFC North could be exiting to another team, it's good news for the Steelers.
Former UofL star Lamar Jackson had a record-breaking afternoon Sunday for the Baltimore Ravens. Jackson surpassed retired NFL player Michael Vick for the most rushing yards by a quarterback in the league's history. Jackson had a 119-yard rushing performance against the Miami Dolphins to get him over the former record.Has Lamar Jackson ever lost to an NFC team? ›
Lamar Jackson has a 15-3 record against the NFC in his career.Has an 8 8 team ever won a Super Bowl? ›
There have been a total of four teams, 1999 Titans, 2000 Ravens, 2007 Giants and the 2008 Cardinals that have reached the Super Bowl following an 8-8 season and two of those teams, the Ravens and Giants have won the Super Bowl.Has any NFL team gone undefeated? ›
The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only team that has ever achieved a perfect, undefeated season. In the last five seasons, the Eagles have experienced highs and lows. In 2017, the Eagles finished the regular season 13-3 and went on to defeat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.Have the Eagles ever beaten Tom Brady? ›
Spending 20 of his 23 seasons with the New England Patriots and his final three with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brady had a career record of 7-2 against the Eagles. He is the only quarterback in NFL history to win and lose a Super Bowl against the same team: the Eagles.Who is the Eagles number 1 rival? ›
Philadelphia Eagles. The rivalry between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles has been one of the higher profile rivalries in the NFL over the past three decades, characterized by bitterly contested games that are typical of the NFC East, with both teams often contesting for the division crown.Who have the Eagles never lost to? ›
As of 2022, the Eagles have never lost a game to the New York Jets (12–0) or the Houston Texans (6–0).Is Lamar Jackson the fastest QB in NFL history? ›
As long as he can keep it up.” Though Jackson's speed received the attention of Madden developers and adjusters before he even suited up in the NFL, it took some time for him to take Vick's place as the fastest quarterback in game history.Why Lamar Jackson is the best QB in the NFL? ›
Jackson has a preternatural blend of arm talent and mobility, which was on display in his 2019 Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player season and has helped him put together a 45-16 record as a starter with 12,209 passing yards, 101 touchdowns and 38 interceptions with a 96.7 passer rating, plus 4,437 rushing yards ( ...Is Lamar Jackson the fastest player in the NFL? ›
Lamar Jackson is the fastest player to reach 10,000+ career passing yards and 3,500+ rush yards. He did so in only 59 games. The next quickest was Michael Vick in 143 games.