Tuesday marked the deadline for teams to use their franchise tag, and Lamar Jackson received a non-exclusive tag from the Baltimore Ravens. This seemed like good news to the Atlanta Falcons who have been consistently linked with Jackson for months.
The non-exclusive tag gives Jackson the ability to negotiate with other teams, but the Ravens would have the right of first refusal. They could match any offer Jackson receives. If they don’t match the offer, they would receive two first-round picks as compensation.
Two first-round picks for Jackson would appear to be a bargain.
But then Dianna Russini of ESPN threw cold water on any talk of Jackson to the Falcons.
Michael Rothstein the Falcons beat writer for ESPN also stamped out any possible flames that were coming from the smoke around the NFL Combine.
“Also in regard to this, a source tells me that those rumors of meetings in Indianapolis between the Falcons and Ravens about Lamar Jackson were false,” wrote Rothstein on Twitter. “No meetings occurred about Jackson between the two clubs.”
Does this mean the Falcons are out completely on Lamar Jackson? Of course not. But any talk of the Falcons being front runners for his services if he’s moved appear to be off the mark.
And Russini called her shot by saying the Falcons won’t be pursuing him.
Jackson reportedly wants close to the numbers the Cleveland Browns gave Deshaun Watson last year… $250 million fully guaranteed. Now that he can negotiate with other teams, how close can he get to that offer?
Teams might be weary of going through a long negotiation process with Jackson, knowing they could end up doing the hard work for the Ravens who can simply match the deal.
Regardless, Atlanta will still be in the market for a quarterback in this offseason. With just Desmond Ridder and Logan Woodside under contract, the Falcons would like to bring in a veteran backup to push Ridder.
There was also chatter at the combine that Atlanta was talking with the Chicago Bears about the No. 1 overall pick.
So Atlanta is doing their due diligence on the quarterback position. But there’s no real sense of urgency with Ridder looking solid in his limited appearances as a rookie.