Arthur Blank defends decision not to pursue Lamar Jackson

As the Falcons once again pick through the wreckage of another lost season, it's appropriate to at least consider what might have been, if they'd pursued Lamar Jackson last year.

One thing that might not have happened is Monday's firing of coach Arthur Smith.

During a lengthy Monday press conference alongside CEO Rich McKay, owner Arthur Blank was asked if it was a mistake not to pursue the Ravens quarterback when he was a free agent limited by the non-exclusive franchise tag.

Was it a mistake to not pursue?" Blank said. "You're asking me that? . . . I don’t think so. I'm mean, it’s easy to say ‘yes’ given his year, and he’s obviously an incredible player. You know, we did not have the cap space. I think the coaching staff felt — coach and personnel, all of us felt collectively, with certainly coach and Terry that we felt we had an answer in [Desmond[ Ridder, a younger player without that kind of contract that would’ve kept us from actually building the team we wanted to build."

When Blank addressed the decision not to pursue Jackson in April 2023, he didn't say that the Falcon's don't have the space. He said they didn't want to tie up 25 percent of the salary cap in one player. But with the cap at $224.8 million in 2023, 25 percent of the cap equates to $56.2 million. Under the massive contract Jackson signed with the Ravens, his 2023 cap number was only $22.15 million.

Blank also cited in April something he didn't mention today — Jackson's injury history.

"I think the result of that thinking was let's stay the course," Blank said Monday. "Let's continue to pursue the vision that we have now. And go from there. it's not a criticism of Lamar. You can debate whether or not he would’ve been available or not. Who knows if they were able to match whatever offers were on the table? I don't know that. I'm not sure. But certainly a great player. He certainly had a great year."

Indeed he did. And the Ravens are benefitting from it. And if the Falcons had signed Lamar to an offer sheet that the Ravens didn't match, the Falcons would likely be getting ready for a playoff game this week. Or maybe they'd be the one team in the NFC with a bye.