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Late for Work 3/7: Pundits Discuss Franchise Tag Debate, Falcons' Potential Interest in Lamar Jackson

QB Lamar Jackson
QB Lamar Jackson

Pundits Discuss Franchise Tag Debate, Falcons' Potential Interest in Lamar Jackson

Today is one of the most important days in the history of the Ravens and that's not hyperbole.

As you may have heard, the Ravens will place one of the two franchise tag designations on Lamar Jackson if an agreement on a contract extension is not reached by 4 p.m. ET. The team has stressed that it wants to sign Jackson to a long-term deal, but sand in the proverbial hourglass is getting scarce.

Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome said on "The Bernie Kosar Show" yesterday: "I know today and up until about 3:30 tomorrow, a lot of energy is going to be utilized in trying to get the deal done, and if not we will put the franchise tag on him."

There's been plenty of speculation as to which tag the Ravens would use. The non-exclusive tag would be about $13 million cheaper than the exclusive tag and require the Ravens to make fewer roster cuts to be salary cap compliant by March 15. However, it would allow Jackson to negotiate a deal with another team. If Jackson reached an agreement, the Ravens would have the opportunity to match it. If they did not, Baltimore would get two first-round picks.

If the Ravens do end up applying the non-exclusive tag, the big question is whether another team would be willing to make both the financial investment to pay Jackson and give up two first-round picks?

The Atlanta Falcons, who have the eighth-overall pick in this year's draft, are the team most often mentioned as a potential suitor for Jackson.

NFL Network's LaDainian Tomlinson predicted that Jackson will be Atlanta's starting quarterback next season.

"They have a lot of salary cap space. … It just makes sense," Tomlinson said. "This type of offense fits Lamar Jackson — run-based offense. The other thing about this: They haven't had someone in this region since Michael Vick with the excitement that he's going to bring. [Owner] Arthur Blank will do this. He will absolutely do this."

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport isn't so sure about that.

"I've checked Atlanta. I would never rule out anything ever. I just don't get the sense anything is imminent there," Rapoport said on "The Pat McAfee Show."

Rapoport made the argument for the Ravens putting the exclusive tag on Jackson because he's worth more than two first-rounders.

"If they get the exclusive tag and he signs it, they can trade him and ask for more," Rapoport said. "If I'm the Ravens, don't I say, 'Isn't he worth more than two first-round picks? He's worth a lot.' And then it's like, who's the team? It would take someone unbelievably committed, unbelievably committed, to Lamar Jackson, and I have looked and I have not found that team just yet."

NFL Network's Rich Eisen believes the Ravens will use the non-exclusive tag.

Eisen hypothesized the Ravens' message to Jackson being: "It's just like, 'We love you so much. Don't take our word for it. You go out there and you test it, and if you get something that you want, you let us know. And then we'll deal with it then. But if you land the contract that we're not giving you, then we're interested in hearing that, too, because we believe we are offering the market value."

Eisen added that getting two first-round picks in return "may be undercutting the value you can get for him. If you trade him, you might be getting more than these two ones. If I'm Baltimore, don't be greedy, take the two ones if he wants to leave and you don't think you can sign him."

Ravens Named One of Best Fits for Anthony Richardson

If the Ravens were to end up parting ways with Jackson, who would be under center in Baltimore next season?

CBS Sports’ Jordan Dajani named the Ravens as one of the 10 best fits for first-round prospect Anthony Richardson. Some pundits have mocked Richardson to the Ravens at No. 22 overall, but the Florida star's draft stock is soaring after his standout performance at the Combine.

"While the Cam Newton comparisons were inevitable with Richardson, he received some Lamar-like praise as well," Dajani wrote. "In fact, Richardson said he started calling himself ‘Cam Jackson’ in high school. No joke. We know Richardson can run the ball, and he has a cannon for an arm — even if that cannon needs some polishing. John Harbaugh had a hand in developing a quarterback into a perennial MVP contender. Maybe he could do the same for Richardson."

Would Ravens Have Interest in Trading for Courtland Sutton or Allen Robinson?

With the Denver Broncos reportedly shopping wide receiver Courtland Sutton, Pro Football Network’s Justin Hier named the best landing spots. Of course, the Ravens were high on the list.

"It seems like the Baltimore Ravens always need a wide receiver," Hier wrote. "As stellar as the team's personnel record has been over the past two decades, wideout is the one position at which the Ravens can't seem to find a hit.

"The Ravens are a bit capital-strapped in terms of draft picks, owning just five, but DeCosta is savvy when it comes to trades. And it's not like Sutton will command first-round value. The two sides could make it work."

Sutton, 27, had 64 catches for 829 yards and two touchdowns this past season. His best season was in 2019, when he was named to the Pro Bowl after recording 72 catches for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Rams reportedly have given veteran wide receiver Allen Robinson permission to seek a trade and are willing to pay a portion of Robinson's $15.25 million guaranteed salary to facilitate a deal.

The Ravens were frequently mentioned as a potential suitor for Robinson last year before he signed a three-year, $46 million deal with the Rams, and in 2021 before he agreed to play on the franchise tag with the Chicago Bears.

In an injury-hampered 2022 season, Robinson finished with just 33 receptions for 339 yards and three touchdowns. In 12 games with the Bears in 2021, he had 38 catches for 410 yards and one touchdown.

NBC Sports Edge's Matthew Berry said he heard buzz at the Combine that the Ravens and Chiefs are interested in pending free agent wide receiver Allen Lazard. All three wide receivers are big-bodied targets.

Marcus Peters Named One of Best Value Free Agents

Pending free-agent cornerback Marcus Peters could be underpriced, according to’s Gregg Rosenthal.

"Peters is the type of player who tends to get undervalued in free agency," Rosenthal wrote. "Though he's far from a long-term solution, Peters can provide average starting cornerback play at worst and could still pop up with a top-20 type of season. And he'll ultimately cost something like $9 million on a one-year deal. That's a bargain."

DeCosta said at the Combine last week that he hopes Peters, 30, will re-sign with the Ravens.

"He's a guy that I hold in very, very high regard," DeCosta said. "I've had a few conversations with Marcus' agent, who is a good friend, and Marcus is a great friend. He and I have communicated. That will be ongoing, but that's a guy that when you talk about 'true Ravens,' guys who have done a lot for your team, for me, for the Ravens over the past four years – Marcus is on that list."

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