Why the Atlanta Falcons (and other teams) shouldn't try to sign MVP QB Lamar Jackson

Denver Broncos v Baltimore Ravens
Denver Broncos v Baltimore Ravens / G Fiume/GettyImages

Lamar Jackson received the non-exclusive franchise tag from the Baltimore Ravens, signalling to other teams around the NFL, including the Atlanta Falcons, that they would be open to letting him negotiate with other teams. However, none of the other teams in the NFL should even think about going after him.

Jackson is a phenomenal player who deserves a contract in the top two or three of his position. There's no questioning that. He won the most valuable player award in 2019 with his play. He has one All-Pro nod and two Pro Bowl nominations as well. He's able to win with his legs and his arm and is one of the best players in the league regardless of position when he's healthy.

So why shouldn't NFL teams go after one of the best players in the last two decades? This may sound crazy to some, but it all comes down to what makes the world work: money.

Currently, under his franchise tag tender, Lamar Jackson is counting roughly $32.4 million towards the cap. The Ravens also have roughly $7.4 million in cap space according to OverTheCap. So any offer that would price the Ravens out of the market to match his new contract and force the trade of two first round picks for the franchise quarterback would need to be over $40 million in year one cap hit. There's only one team in the NFL who could do that: the Chicago Bears.

The Falcons are roughly $34.1 million under the cap according to OverTheCap, but that doesn't include the cap hits for Kaden Elliss or Jessie Bates or the extension for Chris Lindstrom or the restructuring of Jonnu Smith's contract. Atlanta's cap space is closer to a $20-25 million range depending on structures for the new deals signed. Atlanta won't be able to structure a contract that the Ravens won't be able to match.

So in this situation, any negotiations a team does would just be wasting time. The Ravens want to keep their franchise quarterback. They don't want to have to pay a premium just to do so, but they also are showing negotiation fatigue. At this point, anyone who speaks with Jackson is just doing Baltimore's work for them.

Just like anyone who does all the work in the group project but doesn't get any of the credit, NFL general managers don't want to do the Ravens work for them. Let them deal with the negotiations. Don't do their work for them. They're going to just match the deal anyway.