Colts Could Be the Team to Pursue Lamar Jackson
On Friday, the Chicago Bears traded the No. 1-overall pick in the 2023 draft to the quarterback-needy Carolina Panthers.
The move lands the Panthers with their pick of the proverbial rookie litter, while leaving the Indianapolis Colts, who hold the No. 4-overall pick, waiting in the wings to see which quarterback(s) make it past the Panthers, Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals, respectively.
This has NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah recommending the Colts should pursue Lamar Jackson and send the No. 4-overall pick to Baltimore, and multiple pundits agree.
The question is what the Cardinals would do at No. 3. With Kyler Murray, they aren't likely to draft a quarterback. If a quarterback-hungry team moved into their spot, the Colts could be left without any of the top three quarterbacks – Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, or Anthony Richardson. The Raiders (No. 7) are a team to watch.
The trade also has ESPN’s Bill Barnwell believing this will begin to kick start Jackson's market, labeling him one of the trade "winners."
"The Panthers probably weren't in position to draft a passer at No. 9," Barnwell wrote. "Now, by trading up, they're placing more pressure on the teams that won't be able to land a quarterback in the draft to make their move… The teams drafting outside of the top four picks might also find themselves wondering about whether they should do something after the draft, when they'll no longer be forced to trade away a 2023 first-rounder to acquire Jackson."
The Athletic's Dane Brugler ran with the Colts' trade scenario in his latest mock draft, which landed the Ravens with Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson and "financial flexibility."
"'Trading' for Lamar Jackson by signing him to an offer sheet that the Ravens don't match would be an expensive proposition, obviously, but Jackson is a proven commodity who would be a ton of fun in Shane Steichen's offense," Brugler wrote. "He'd make the Colts immediate contenders for a deep playoff run. As for the Ravens, they'd swap a proven playmaking talent at quarterback for a potentially playmaking talent. But they'd also reset their quarterback clock and maintain financial flexibility to build up the rest of the roster, which is a priority for the organization. Tyler Huntley would be the Ravens' new starting quarterback in 2023, with Richardson mixed in throughout his rookie season until he's ready to take over."
ESPN's Jeremy Fowler: 'Multiple Teams Predict No Team Will Make an Offer [for Jackson]'
While pundits speculate on different scenarios for Jackson and the Ravens, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reports other teams are not expected to offer sheet Jackson.
"I don't expect teams to make offers here soon. I've talked to multiple teams who predict that no team will make an offer, as crazy as it sounds," Fowler said. "It doesn't mean that they think they shouldn't. They think that they should, but there's just a lot going on here."
This pairs with the report from ESPN’s Dan Graziano, who believes teams are more likely to conduct a "more traditional trade" with the Ravens than negotiate a deal with Jackson and submit an offer sheet.
"Based on the conversations I've had, there are teams interested in pursuing a potential Jackson trade if he decides he wants out of Baltimore, but I don't know that you'll see anyone submit a formal offer sheet that puts two first-round draft picks at risk if the Ravens don't match," Graziano wrote. "I think teams would rather talk to the Ravens about a more traditional trade, though of course they'd also at some point have to talk to Jackson because he'd have to sign the franchise tender before he could be traded."
Predicting Which Ravens Free Agents Stay or Go
On Monday at 12 p.m. ET, the NFL's negotiating period begins, wherein "clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents." There are 15 unrestricted free agents for the Ravens, and The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec sees five returning for the purple and black in 2023.
CB Kyle Fuller
"Fuller's injury proved to be a costly one because he was starting to settle in with his hometown team and the Ravens struggled to keep cornerbacks healthy," Zrebiec wrote. "Assuming Fuller still wants to play and is on schedule with his rehab, returning to Baltimore makes sense. The Ravens need veteran cornerback depth and his familiarity with the coaching staff and medical team should lead to a comfortable arrangement."
OLB Justin Houston
"DeCosta indicated that he doesn't expect Houston to make a decision until closer to training camp, but the Ravens figure to leave the light on for him," Zrebiec wrote. "He's had 14 sacks in two seasons with the team and has made a strong impression as a veteran leader. The Ravens have young edge rushers Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo and veteran Tyus Bowser, but they have room for at least one more. If they're looking for a veteran on a cheap one-year deal, they could do a lot worse than the venerable Houston."
In total, Zrebiec has the Ravens keeping five of their 15, with cornerbacks Trayvon Mullen, Kevon Seymour and wide receiver Demarcus Robinson rounding out the group. However, big names like offensive guard Ben Powers and cornerback Marcus Peters aren't among them.
"Arguably the team's top free agent, Peters also represents the Ravens' toughest free-agent decision. Baltimore badly needs cornerback help, and Peters has strong relationships in the locker room and with the team's decision-makers," Zrebiec wrote. "However, he struggled for much of last year coming off the knee injury, and he's now 30. The Ravens will have to determine how likely he is to bounce back. A return probably will depend on Peters' willingness to accept a modest deal."
CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin named Marcus Peters the best free-agent fit for the Dallas Cowboys.
It's been long speculated that Powers has probably priced himself out of Baltimore.
"It's not that Baltimore wouldn't like to keep Powers. He was one of its most improved and steadiest players last year," Zrebiec wrote. "That's the reason, though, the Ravens likely won't keep him. Powers probably played his way out of a return. The Ravens don't have the cap flexibility to write another big check to a guard. For compensatory pick purposes, they'll hope Powers gets a significant multiyear deal, and he should."
Ravens Among Teams at Odell Beckham Jr.'s Private Workout
Last week, free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. held a private workout in Arizona, and according to CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones, the Ravens were in attendance. However, they weren't the only ones, with upwards of 12-14 teams scouting the big-name star.
Many are curious on how Beckham Jr. will bounce back after suffering an ACL injury in Super Bowl LVI and not playing in the 2022-2023 NFL season. Nonetheless, NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal has him as the No. 9 free agent this offseason.
"On one hand, OBJ, who did not play at all in 2022, has had time to recuperate from his second ACL surgery last February," Rosenthal wrote. "On the other, he's had two ACL surgeries since 2020. In a dry season for free agent receiver talent, Beckham would still bring juice to any offense."
Beckham Jr. would be an excellent pairing with wide receiver Rashod Bateman and tight end Mark Andrews, but if reports of what he's seeking are true, the Ravens will have to make some room to add him. According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, Beckham is wanting a deal upwards of $20 million per year.
"Beckham, 30, is expected to be among the top wide receivers available this year in free agency despite coming off a second ACL tear," Florio wrote. "A source with knowledge of Beckham's market believes he wants top dollar commensurate with his skill set."