How Lamar Jackson's trade request could impact Bears' rebuild, future
How Lamar's trade request could impact Bears' rebuild, future originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
On Monday morning, just as head coach John Harbaugh was sitting down to speak with reporters at the annual NFL owners meetings, Lamar Jackson detonated a bomb that shook the league.
Jackson, who the Ravens placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on earlier this month, announced that he requested a trade on March 2.
The Ravens and Jackson have been negotiating a long-term extension for over a year. ESPN's Adam Schefter has reported that Jackson wants a fully-guaranteed contract that will rival the deal the Cleveland Browns gave Deshaun Watson. Jackson tweeted on March 14 that he turned down a three-year, $133 million contract that was fully guaranteed. That number doesn't come close to the $230 million fully-guaranteed deal Watson got from the Browns.
As of Monday, the Ravens are uninterested in meeting Jackson's request. Harbaugh told reporters he loves Jackson and is planning on the former MVP being the Ravens' starting quarterback in 2023.
The non-exclusive tag gives Jackson, who serves as his own agent, the opportunity to negotiate a long-term deal with another team. Should Jackson reach an agreement with another team, the Ravens can match the deal or trade Jackson to that team for two first-round picks.
While certain national windbags have suggested the Bears look to sign Jackson and trade quarterback Justin Fields, that's clearly not in the cards.
However, the ripples from Jackson's trade request could touch the Bears in a few ways.
Let's start with the obvious: The Detroit Lions have a roster primed to contend for a Super Bowl in the year of our lord 2023, and adding Jackson could put the finishing touches on a rebuilding masterpiece.
Jared Goff has been the perfect bridge quarterback for head coach Dan Campbell and the rebuilding Lions. He has thrived in offensive coordinator Ben Johnson's offense and rebuilt his own value.
But Jackon offers the Lions something Goff doesn't. He's an elite playmaker who can make something out of nothing when a play breaks down. In order to win the Super Bowl, you need a quarterback who can go blow for blow with the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts, etc.
Goff is a good player but lacks the next-level playmaking ability to win a duel with the best in the NFL.
The Lions also own the No. 6 and No. 18 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Should they come to a deal with Jackson, they could send both picks, plus Goff and extra capital, to the Ravens.
Detroit is uniquely positioned to add the star quarterback its rebuild is missing.
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Outside of Jackson tormenting the Bears twice a season for the next 10 years, his trade request also has the potential to impact the draft and how things shake out for the Bears, who now sit at No. 9 after their blockbuster trade with the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers and Houston Texans both are expected to take a quarterback with the first and second overall picks. The Indianapolis Colts, who sit at No. 4, desperately need a franchise quarterback but now lack the ability to trade up to secure their desired signal-caller.
If Jackson and the Ravens can't mend their relationship, the Colts seem like a prime team to send the No. 4 pick and a future first to Baltimore for Jackson.
Slotting the Ravens in at No. 4 with both C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young off the board could alter how things shake out in front of the Bears at No. 9. Trading Jackson would signal a massive rebuild for the Ravens. With Tyler Huntley on the roster, the Ravens could use that No. 4 pick on Jalen Carter, one of the top cornerbacks, or a top tackle to start their rebuild.
Should the Ravens trade Jackson and jump into the top 10 of the draft, that could set off a ripple effect that impacts who is available at No. 9 and whether or not another trade-down is more likely.
Anytime a star quarterback changes teams, there are seismic implications across the NFL.
While Jackson finding a new home might not directly impact the Bears, it will almost certainly have ripples that touch Chicago.
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