There’s Something About Jackson: Is Lamar Jackson now the most sought after Quarterback in the NFL?

By Ha Kung Wong

Twitter: @FBGarbageTime

Remember that classic 1998 comedy “There’s Something About Mary” where Cameron Diaz plays inexplicably the most sought-after woman on the planet being chased down by four different guys (Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon, Lee Evans and Chris Elliott) in a way that’s comedic by 1990’s standards, but wholly inappropriate and creepy by 2020’s standards? Yeah, it’s a little cringe today, but trust me, it was cool back in 1998. In the movie these various creepy guys do everything from pretending to be disabled (super cringe), taking actions that subject them restraining orders (super super cringe) and just outright lying — a lot — in order to win over Mary. I know, it sounds like a HR warning video, but I promise it really isn’t as bad as it sounds. Plus, a certain NFL quarterback makes a guest appearance at the end, which may be worth the watch alone. But I digress.

Um…if you didn’t already know who that QB was, this movie is 25 years old so that’s on you.

My point is that on March 27, Lamar Jackson announced on social media that he had requested a trade from the Baltimore Ravens on March 2. The news came as a surprise to many fans and analysts, as Jackson had been a key player for the Ravens since he was drafted in 2018. And suddenly, Lamar Jackson became Mary and at least a third of the NFL became those creepy guys doing cringy things to win Mary over. So as rumors and speculation swirl around Jackson’s future, it is worth examining why he’s Mary and which teams might be interested in signing him in 2023.

Since being drafted 32nd overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, Lamar Jackson has established himself as one of the league’s most dynamic quarterbacks. In his rookie year, he played sparingly behind Joe Flacco but still managed to make an impact with his running ability. In 2019, he took over as the Ravens’ starting quarterback and put together a historic season. He threw for over 3,100 yards and 36 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns. He led the Ravens to a 14-2 record and was named the league’s MVP. Jackson followed up his MVP season with another strong campaign in 2020, throwing for over 2,700 yards and 26 touchdowns while rushing for 1,005 yards and seven touchdowns. However, his postseason struggles have been a point of concern for some fans and analysts.

Lamar Jackson Passing Stats
Year Tm G Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate QBR Awards
2018 BAL 16 58.2 1201 6 3 84.5 42.6
2019*+ BAL 15 66.1 3127 36 6 113.3 83.0 AP MVP-1, AP OPoY-2, AP1, PB
2020 BAL 15 64.4 2757 26 9 99.3 67.3
2021* BAL 12 64.4 2882 16 13 87.0 50.7 PB
2022 BAL 12 62.3 2242 17 7 91.1 59.1
Care 70 63.7 12209 101 38 96.7

Provided by View Original Table

Lamar Jackson Rushing Stats
Game Rush Rush Rush
Year Tm G Rush Yds TD
2018 BAL 16 147 695 5
2019*+ BAL 15 176 1206 7
2020 BAL 15 159 1005 7
2021* BAL 12 133 767 2
2022 BAL 12 112 764 3
Care 70 727 4437 24

Despite Jackson’s individual success, the Ravens have yet to advance past the divisional round of the playoffs during his tenure. This could be a contributing factor to Jackson’s desire for a trade. Additionally, there have been rumors of tension between Jackson and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. Whatever the reason for Jackson’s trade request, it is clear that he has been a tremendous player for the Ravens.

So which teams might be interested in signing Lamar Jackson in 2023? Several teams could use an upgrade at the quarterback position, including the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Houston Texans and Washington Commanders.

The Atlanta Falcons have been searching for a long-term solution at quarterback since the departure of Matt Ryan. There’s been several reports that the Falcons do not intend to pursue Jackson, but they only added Taylor Heinicke at quarterback in free agency, have a decent amount of cap space remaining and most likely would have to trade up from number 8 overall to draft one of this year’s top quarterback prospects. They did try to sign Deshaun Watson last year and this is head coach Arthur Smith’s third season without a solid franchise quarterback. Jackson’s dual-threat ability would give the Falcons’ offense a new dimension and make them a more dangerous team.

The Detroit Lions are somewhere between “exciting potential” and “rebuilding” and it’s still unclear if Jared Goff is the franchise quarterback to build around. Jackson would be a perfect fit for new head coach Dan Campbell‘s aggressive style of play. The Lions have the 6th overall and 18th overall picks in this year’s draft, which they could use either to draft their future quarterback or trade for Jackson.

The Minnesota Vikings have a talented roster, particularly with Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook, but have struggled to consistently make the playoffs. Kirk Cousins proved to be better under Kevin O’Connell in 2022, but he’s entering a contract year. Jackson could be the missing piece that helps them get over the hump.  The Vikings have the 24th overall pick in the draft, which is too late for a quarterback, but good enough to get a trade done.

The Indianapolis Colts have a strong defense and a solid running game behind Jonathan Taylor, although he took a few steps back last season, but lack a star at quarterback.  The Colts have tried the older veteran route with Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan, and none of that worked.  Jackson’s dynamic playmaking ability would make them a more exciting team to watch and give them a chance to compete with the top teams in the AFC, but it’s likely the Colts will look to draft a quarterback this year with the 4th overall pick.

The New England Patriots have struggled to replace Tom Brady since his departure leaving head coach Bill Belichick with 3 somewhat mediocre seasons. Mac Jones looked like he would be answer in his rookie year, but took a big step back in 2022, perhaps in part due to injury. Belichick has publicly praised Jackson as an MVP-level quarterback and Jackson’s unique skill set would give Belichick a new challenge and could help revitalize the team’s offense. The Patriots added some targets with JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mike Gesicki, so the Patriots might not be a bad place for Jackson to land.  That being said Patriots owner Robert Kraft did double down on Mac Jones recently, so its unclear if the Patriots will be in the running for Jackson.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a loaded roster with the likes of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans but are likely still looking for a long-term solution at quarterback with Tom Brady’s second (and final) retirement. They have former drafted quarterback Kyle Trask and recently signed Baker Mayfield, but Jackson would give them a dynamic player to build around for the future.  The question is whether Tampa can afford to sign Jackson with limited cap space.

The Houston Texans are in the midst of a major rebuild and could use a franchise quarterback to build around. Although the Texans are likely to draft a quarterback this year with the number 2 overall pick, the Texans do also have the 12th pick of the draft which they could parlay into a trade for Jackson.  Jackson could be a solid fit for first year head coach DeMeco Ryan’s offense and could help the Texans turn things around.

The Washington Commanders have a solid defense and some talented skill players, such as Terry McLaurin, but lack a solid starter at quarterback. They added Jacoby Brissett to compete with 2022 rookie Sam Howell, and the coaching staff and fanbase remain bullish on Howell, but the 16th overall pick is unlikely to get them a shot at a top quarterback prospect in the draft and there’s no doubt that signing Jackson would be a huge step up. Jackson’s ability to make plays with his arm and his legs would make them a more dangerous team and give them a chance to compete in the NFC East, and clearly matches head coach Ron Rivera‘s most successful seasons with Cam Newton in Carolina.  Unfortunately for Commanders’ fans, Rivera did recently commented that he was committed to Howell and hadn’t investigated signing Jackson.

Ultimately, the decision to sign Lamar Jackson will depend on a team’s specific needs and priorities. In our opinion, the Falcons, Colts, Buccaneers and Commanders currently have the most need for an upgrade at quarterback entering next season while also not having enough draft capital to get an impact quarterback in the draft.  And of those teams, the Buccaneers and Commanders may put Jackson in the best position to succeed based on existing personnel and staff.  And of course, Ravens coach John Harbaugh is still in on getting Jackson to stay.  Regardless of where Jackson ends up, though, there is no denying that just like those creepy guys in “There’s Something about Mary” having their eyes on Mary, all eyes in the NFL will be on Jackson.  And you can count me in as one of them.  One of the eyes looking at Jackson, that is, not a creepy guy.  Just sayin’.