The NFL doesn’t like to be out of the spotlight, and they have made their show available to an insatiable audience almost year-round. Last week we were evaluating college prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, and we’re going straight into free agency talk with today’s franchise tag deadline. Washington was the first team to apply the tag this year, placing it on DT Daron Payne after he had the best season of his career.
The bigger news has been the QB market this year, and the deadline that the franchise tag creates. Several deals were made before today’s 4pm deadline, and a former MVP started the next phase of his negotiations after receiving the tag. The Washington Commanders have been in QB purgatory for...ever, so it is easy to want to do what Ron Rivera did last year and call every team about every QB that might be available. That doesn’t mean it’s the smartest thing to do, or that it will solve the never-ending problem that faces Washington teams.
Washington swung medium on Carson Wentz last year after being rejected by Matthew Stafford(2021) and Russell Wilson(2022). They traded two third round picks, along with swapping 2nds last year, to take Wentz and his full $28.3 million contract from the Indianapolis Colts. Wentz flamed out as most rational observers predicted he would, and now the team is pushing the Sam Howell for now plan on the fanbase. Taylor Heinicke is likely to find a new home, which leaves a lot of fans looking at the options that might be available.
There have been several big moves so far this year that would have got 2022 Ron Rivera very excited. Derek Carr was released by the Las Vegas Raiders, and spent three weeks as a free agent before signing a 4-year, $150 million contract with the New Orleans Saints. Geno Smith had his breakout year with the Seattle Seahawks after languishing as a former bust, current backup for years. Seattle rewarded Smith with a 3-year, $75 million deal.
Today’s deadline involved two quarterbacks that Washington fans are very familiar with. Daniel Jones was on his way out of the New York Giants organization before Head Coach Brian Daboll took over, and helped Jones lead his team to a playoff win over the Vikings. Jones was expected to get the tag by many observers after his contract demands matched QBs that were considered a tier above him. The Giants were able to lock Jones up for a 4-year $160 million deal right before today’s deadline. This allowed them to place the franchise tag on RB Saquon Barkley.
The other big(ger) name to watch today was Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson who has been at odds with his team over a contract that he reportedly wants to be fully guaranteed. The Ravens weren’t agreeing to the same kind of deal that the desperate Cleveland Browns gave to Deshaun Watson last year. Baltimore applied the non-exclusive franchise tag to Jackson, which will pay him ~$32.4 million this year if he plays on it. This also makes Jackson available to other teams who can give him an offer that the Ravens would have to match. If they choose to not match that deal, the Ravens would receive two 1st round picks from the team that signs Jackson. This is the same tag that the Redskins used on Kirk Cousins. They used the exclusive tag on him the next year and then he signed a series of fully guaranteed deals with the Minnesota Vikings.
Lamar Jackson is reportedly looking for a fully guaranteed deal, likely 5 years, $250 million. This would be on top of the two first round picks the team that signs him would have to send to the Ravens. For the Washington Commanders, this would be a massive commitment from a team that’s ownership is likely changing this year, and a coaching staff that might not finish the season with Ron Rivera in charge.
Lamar Jackson would be a massive upgrade on the seemingly endless parade of QBs that have not only passed through Ashburn, but have started actual NFL games here. Despite the rumors that Dan Snyder wants to make this fantasy a reality as one last middle finger to the rest of the league, don’t expect Lamar Jackson to be wearing whatever uniform Washington decides to put on the field next season.
Should Washington sign Lamar Jackson for$50m/year and trade two draft picks to Baltimore?
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