Why Falcons passing on Lamar Jackson makes more sense than you think
No, the Atlanta Falcons don’t seem interested in trading for Lamar Jackson.
Despite being stellar in reality, the Atlanta Falcons will pass Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson in free agency.
The 2019 NFL MVP was slapped with the non-exclusive franchise tag on Tuesday afternoon. He’ll make Shade over $32 million in 2023 if he ends up playing them. Had he hit the exclusive tag, Baltimore would have had to pay him much more. This is a clever move by the Crows to show Jackson what his market is worth and possibly close a deal?
The Falcons are out of Jackson’s sweepstakes, which everyone else has tried to make something of.
The Atlanta Falcons will not be hunting QB Lamar Jackson, according to sources.
— Diana Rossini (@diannaESPN) March 7, 2023
FOX Sports’ Peter Schrager confirmed ESPN’s Diana Rossini’s report on the Atlanta exit.
Could add to diannaESPN’s report… The Falcons are not and have not been involved in the stalking of Lamar Jackson.
— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) March 7, 2023
And this may be stinking for some Falcons fans, but this is actually a smarter move than you can imagine.
Atlanta Falcons pass to Lamar Jackson is actually the right call for them
Sure, this could blow up in the Falcons’ face if he were to sign with a top-tier rival like the Carolina Panthers or Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This would be incredibly par for the course for the Falcons, but hear me out on why this unified decision to stand was the best thing Atlanta could have done. They may actually have the man in the middle with Desmond Reader still on his rookie contract.
Ryder got better with each pass starting down the Falcons stretch. To be honest, it was amazing to watch Marcus Mariota get his starts in November. His inherently reckless nature has driven all of ATL to the brink of insanity. When he sat on the bench and quit the team, good riddance. Ridder took over and earned immediate buyouts from all of his Falcons teammates.
So what does this have to do with Jackson? Absolutely everything. Atlanta acquired franchise quarterback Matt Ryan just last season. Although the Falcons lose way more than they win, they usually get competent play from the quarterback position. I can count how many really bad years the Falcons have been out of position since I became a real fan in 1998.
The idea behind not trading Jackson is to load the roster as closely as possible around Ridder, hoping that Kirk Cousins, Dak Prescott or Russell Wilson will be the next kind, third or fourth round with quarterback material. The Falcons don’t have to squat Ryder until his fifth major league season. The best part is that they have three more years to find out if he is their man.
Atlanta was traded to Jackson, a precious bye draft capital. Instead of crafting a password you haven’t had since John Abraham, you get a hefty contract that asks Jackson to cover up more shortcomings than he did before he arrived. In short, you’re talking about a mix of first-round picks and first-round roster talent going Baltimore’s way, who will totally own you.
Now that the Hawks finally have a lot of space for the first time since, well, the Barack Obama administration, they can rebuild this thing very, very quickly. It’s always been part of head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot’s plan to see where they’re at in 2021, let the shot go in 2022 and go all-in in 2023. They went 7-10 straight, but last year it felt differently.
Even with more dead cap than any team could hope to endure, the Falcons weren’t terrible given their financial constraints. These guys played hard for Smith, and outside of the Cincinnati Bengals road game, they either won or started 16 more games. It wasn’t bad training that helped them bounce back last season, but a lack of talent to fill the gap in the final minutes of matches.
See, by not trading for Jackson, you could draft Texas Tech’s Myles Murphy to boost your pass rush or Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez to improve your eighth-ranked secondary. To see if guys like Jesse Bates of the Cincinnati Bengals want to come to the ATL. You add a wide receiver and stick with Kaleb McGary right tackle and boom!
You didn’t pay attention to it last year, so why would you? But the Falcons have developed a culture in which players want to play. It’s different, but it’s also similar to what Dan Campbell builds in Detroit. Smith is ruder than Campbell, but he knows how to coach a strong football team. Fontenot will not leave the Saints front office to the Falcons for any old reason…
In short, the Falcons are going to build a competitive football team next year, one that is certainly capable of going maybe 11-6 and winning the NFC South. They are now entering an interesting phase of their competitive life cycle. You can’t microwave this, like trading for a player behind another team that owns the franchise. There is also another strategy if the Ridder is bombing.
If the Falcons are as bad as there is no tomorrow again in 2023, they will likely pick the top 10 again and will have every reason in the world to trade the top five to take Caleb Williams out of USC or Drake Maye out of North Carolina. Why not consider the possibility of drafting Patrick Mahomes light the best player UNC has had since Julius Peppers?
At the very least, the Hawks are methodical and we have to respect that.