Surprise team emerges as betting favor for Lamar Jackson, and it makes sense

Most of the teams have already dropped out of the Lamar Jackson sweepstakes. One team remaining is the preferred bet and makes a lot of sense.

The Baltimore Ravens decided to let the market set the price for Lamar Jackson for him. The early returns to this strategy appear to be strong, considering team after team publicly announced that they would not tour Jackson in the hours following the franchise tag deadline.

One team that has not folded, at least not publicly, is the Detroit Lions. This fact has them calling sportsbooks favorite bets for Jackson’s touchdown, including BetOnline.

The Lions sit at +300 with the Bucs coming in second highest odds at +450, and the Colts next at +500.

Lions may be shocked, but it makes a lot of sense for Lamar Jackson

The Detroit Lions put on a stellar second half of the 2022 season. Even though they didn’t make the playoffs, they went 8-2 to close out the year after starting the year 1-7. It was an amazing turnaround a week after the postseason ended for a Dan Campbell-led Detroit team.

They capped off the year by defeating the Green Bay Packers and officially eliminating them from playoff contention. If you’re not going to make the postseason, taking a hated sub-competitor out of contention in your final game is a great consolation prize.

But back to fitness for Jackson…the Lions are still swinging Jared Goff, who they picked up in a Matthew Stafford trade. Goff is fine, he made the Pro Bowl last year with 4,438 yards and 29 touchdowns, but he’s no Lamar Jackson.

Jackson is the best quarterback in the league. He won the MVP award, which people seem to easily forget for whatever reason.

They have the chops to make adding Jackson an almost straightforward move into title contention. Here’s what my colleague Cody Williams had to say yesterday:

So much about the Lions being ready to win, enough that this team nearly made the playoffs with Goff last season. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson remained in Detroit despite his high head coaching interest this season and the rest of the staff remained a winning culture. The defense continues to improve, the offensive line is good, Amon Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams are leading the receiving corps, and the running backs should be strong.”

There’s another major reason Jackson makes so much sense for the Lions: It costs a lot less than it would for most teams.

Because the Ravens awarded Jackson the non-exclusive franchise tag, any team that struck a deal with him could be matched by the Ravens. But if Baltimore has no interest in paying it, they owe two first-round picks.

This is part of the reason why so many teams back out of negotiations before they even begin. A contract big enough to sway Jackson and two huge first-round picks. But for lions, that cost doesn’t look bad:

What makes Lamar Jackson so interesting for the Lions is that they can do it and still pick the sixth overall this year.

And if you’re adding a Lamar, you’re doing so on the assumption that picking up an R1 next year is a belated one.

Lions have much less associated risk than most teams, IMO.

— Nolan Bianchi (@nolanbianchi) March 8, 2023

As the Detroit News’ Nolan Bianchi points out, the Lions could still pick sixth this year. That’s because their first-round pick is 18, but they also own a Rams pick (a Stafford trade).

And if they drop their first-round pick next year, well, Bianchi points out, they expect competition. Being laid off 25+ may be a second overall choice. It’s still a choice you’d rather keep, but it’s a cost of winning.

Lions could make a move like this that would otherwise have been risky if they hadn’t established themselves in such great fashion with the Stafford trade. He marks them off the field and makes them a legitimate threat to ruin Baltimore’s master plan with Jackson.

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