National Football League
Lamar Jackson's landing spots: Which teams could sign the QB?
National Football League

Lamar Jackson's landing spots: Which teams could sign the QB?

Updated Apr. 11, 2023 11:53 a.m. ET

Lamar Jackson isn't a free agent. Not technically. But with the Baltimore Ravens placing the non-exclusive franchise tag on their quarterback Tuesday, Jackson can begin negotiations with all 32 NFL teams on March 13 when the tampering period opens.

Here's how the non-exclusive franchise tag works. If Jackson gets no interest (or no contracts he wants to sign), he will play for the Ravens on a one-year deal worth $32.41 million. NFL teams can make contract offers for Jackson, who can decide to sign those offer sheets. If he signs one, the Ravens can decide if they'll match it. If they match it, he stays with Baltimore on the exact deal offered by the other team. If the Ravens don't match the offer sheet, Jackson joins the offering team in exchange for two first-round picks to Baltimore. Teams also have the option to complete a sign-and-trade deal with the Ravens for a different package of compensation.

Jackson dealt with injuries over the last two seasons, which hindered his production. But that doesn't mean teams won't pursue him. On the contrary, the 2019 NFL MVP should have a robust market where multiple teams will vie for his services. 

So, let's rank some of Jackson's options, from least likely to most likely.


(After the news of Jackson's tag broke, the Atlanta Falcons made it clear they won't pursue the quarterback, per ESPN's Dianna Russini. For that reason, I have omitted them from this list.)

13. Las Vegas Raiders

They're a logical team, because they need a quarterback. But the Davis family has a history of struggling with cash flow, as noted by The Athletic's Tashan Reed. If a team were to offer Jackson a big highly-guaranteed deal, the guaranteed money would go into escrow. That requires an immense amount of liquidity. I'm not sure they'll enter the Jackson sweepstakes.

12. New York Jets

They are currently meeting with Aaron Rodgers in California, according to multiple reports. They hired Rodgers' former QB coach, Nathaniel Hackett, to serve as the offensive coordinator. New York seems to be on the verge of adding Rodgers. A big deal for Jackson would be a shock. But if Rodgers falls through, it's definitely possible.

11. Tennessee Titans

The Titans pick at 11th in the upcoming draft. 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. And Jackson has proven he can do just that.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers

Kenny Pickett threw seven touchdowns and nine interceptions in 13 appearances last season. I'm all for giving rookies time to develop. But it's extremely hard to imagine him developing into a quarterback of Jackson's caliber. Pittsburgh picks at 17th this year. The only problem? The Steelers are currently over the salary cap. That might complicate things.

9. Indianapolis Colts

Matt Ryan, Matt Shmyan. The biggest holdup for Indy would be giving up the fourth overall pick this year and a first-rounder next year. The fourth-overall pick is a lot of draft capital. Perhaps a deal could be swung.

8. Green Bay Packers

Their first-round pick is 15th overall, which isn't bad in terms of compensation. And while the team is excited about Jordan Love, he's far from a proven entity. The Packers also have $16 million in cap space, the 10th most among NFL teams. If they deal Rodgers, they'll have more room to work with.

7. San Francisco 49ers

My goodness, can you imagine a team with Jackson, Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle and Deebo Samuel? The 49ers don't have a first-round pick this year, so they would be one of the teams that need to complete a sign-and-trade deal with Baltimore.

6. Detroit Lions

It would only cost the Lions $10 million to cut Jared Goff. It would save them almost $21 million, which would essentially double the team's salary gap. They were a freakishly good offense last year. Imagine what they could do with Jackson this year (along with a lot of help on defense).

5. Houston Texans

The Texans need a quarterback. But would they prefer to draft a develop one with the second overall pick? Because it might be a bit too rich to give up that and another first-rounder for Lamar. But again, the draft is more of a crapshoot than anyone else is willing to admit. And the Bears are asking for a haul to get into the No. 1 overall spot. Maybe the Texans bite the bullet and spend on Lamar.

4. Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins have Tua Tagovailoa, but it's hard to imagine them feeling comfortable with him, given his concussion history and erratic play. With the amount of talent they have on the team, they are in win-now mode. They need a quarterback that can get the most out of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. (The only hiccup is that the Dolphins don't have a first-round pick after forfeiting it for a tampering scandal involving Tom Brady. Miami would need to get creative.)

3. Carolina Panthers

The Panthers don't have much in the way of salary-cap space, but they seemed to be in the hunt for Derek Carr. So apparently, they thought they could make space. At this point, they do not have a starting-caliber quarterback on their roster. They might make an aggressive bid at Jackson and figure out the financials later.

2. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are betting Jackson is going to test free agency and find out the market isn't as green as he thought. Maybe the quarterback will struggle to generate a deal to his liking. Maybe the Ravens are ready to match whatever deal he gets. They must have a sense of what the market looks like for their quarterback. I'm sure they're prepared to stay competitive.

1. Washington Commanders

Their quarterback is Sam Howell. Sam Howell! Of course, they're going to consider Lamar. Their salary cap number ($15 million) is healthy enough. And their draft compensation (16th overall and next year's first) isn't cost prohibitive.

Prior to joining FOX Sports as the AFC East reporter, Henry McKenna spent seven years covering the Patriots for USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Boston Globe Media. Follow him on Twitter at @McKennAnalysis. 

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