Five possible Lamar Jackson destinations this NFL offseason originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The league’s best free agent now sees his future hang in the balance.
Jackson is now headed towards unrestricted free agency, unless the Ravens apply the non-exclusive or transition tag to negotiate a deal. But if they don’t and he’s available on the open market, these five teams could make sense for the former league MVP:
For this to work, the Dolphins would have to move around some money as they’re tight on cap space. But if Lamar Jackson is in the cards, there’s no doubt they could look to make a move.
Jackson, who is from Pompano Beach right next to Miami, would definitely be enticed by the prospect of teaming with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle under exciting young, offensive-minded head coach Mike McDaniel.
As good as Tua Tagovailoa was in his third year, his concussion history and injury history in general are risky. Jackson is just two years older and would immediately make Miami a contender next season, backed by a solid defense when all the pieces are intact.
Owner Stephen Ross is known for courting some of the league’s biggest stars (i.e. Tom Brady), so you have to think the Dolphins are serious threats to land the hometown kid.
If he isn’t returning home, staying near Baltimore would very much be plausible.
Head coach Ron Rivera is one of the best man managers in the league, and Jackson would be surrounded by a young offensive core. Terry McLaurin is the star, while Jahan Dotson had a propitious rookie campaign and Curtis Samuel provided a solid veteran presence. Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson could be in line for bigger seasons next year, too.
Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke are not the long-term options, and Washington did well to fight for a playoff spot until the very end in a division where three teams qualified for the postseason. Jackson’s addition would definitely boost them to the top as the Commanders had one of the league’s elite defenses.
By bringing in a new team owner and adding the face of the franchise in Jackson, Washington would definitely return as one of the NFL’s most commanding teams.
Trading away Russell Wilson was supposed to signal the start of a long-term rebuild for Seattle. It ended up making the playoffs with Geno Smith at the helm, while Wilson and the Denver Broncos mustered just five wins.
The Seahawks are entering the offseason with plenty of cash and have high draft picks to add to an already-intriguing group. Kenneth Walker III capped off a rookie season with over 1,000 yards on the ground and looks capable of adding a reliable receiving game to his skill set. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett each racked up over 1,000 yards receiving this season, too, and the defense is young but filled with potential under more reps.
While Geno had a resurgent career year under Pete Carroll, the 32-year-old is not the long-term answer, and Jackson immediately puts Seattle back as a serious contender.
The Titans make the cut only because they can give Jackson a significant cut: They have the most cap space going into the 2023 offseason, according to Spotrac.
The jury is still out on Willis, but Jackson is a clear and obvious upgrade that bolsters Tennessee in the AFC and its division, which was won by a 9-8 Jacksonville Jaguars squad on the final week of the regular season – against Josh Dobbs and the Titans.
Head coach Mike Vrabel and Co. can use that cash to bolster other departments, as well, primarily at the skill positions to give Jackson real options. Robert Woods can’t be the leading receiver next season. It’s not an exciting destination, but it does make sense.
Michael Vick fans would be fond of this idea. The Falcons could’ve won the NFC South this season despite shuffling between Marcus Mariota and rookie Desmond Ridder.
It’s a similar situation to Tennessee – Mariota is the vet and the jury is out on Ridder, but adding Jackson is a no-brainer, especially because the Falcons have good money entering the offseason.
Fifth-round rookie Tyler Allgeier racked up 1,035 rushing yards and Cordarelle Patterson enjoyed a solid season switching from wideout to running back. Drake London had an encouraging rookie campaign while Kyle Pitts, a 1,000-yard-receiving tight end as a rookie, would return from injured reserve.
They’ll need more weapons and defensive solidity to be viewed as legitimate contenders, but with Tom Brady possibly leaving Tampa Bay, Atlanta can reclaim the throne in the division. It also might be the acquisition that puts offensive-minded head coach Arthur Smith on the map.
Houston Texans – Brandin Cooks and promising rookie RB Dameon Pierce are the headliners, and Houston could solve its recent problems by adding a franchise signal caller. With Lovie Smith out, it’d be an attractive job for available head coaches.