The legal tampering window opens Monday and free agency kicks off Wednesday at 4 p.m. With the new league year looming, it has been a busy week in Baltimore and around the league with the franchise tag deadline, salary-cap clearing and more.
Here are my thoughts on what transpired this week and what lies ahead, all in 50 words or less:
The Ravens want Jackson to be in Baltimore for a long time. The hope is the non-exclusive franchise tag moves the two sides closer to a resolution. There needs to be interest from other teams to indicate league value, but nobody willing to make an offer the Ravens can't match.
There's zero doubt that Jackson is a better quarterback that the vast majority of other teams' starters. The question isn't about talent or who deserves more. It's about how much more. Are other teams willing to give Jackson the level of investment he's seeking, plus two first-round picks? We'll see.
The Panthers' blockbuster trade to get the No. 1-overall pick shows they preferred to give up more draft capitol (additional two second-round picks) and star receiver D.J. Moore rather pay the two first-round picks and big deal required for Jackson. Teams picking early may prefer rookie QBs.
I wouldn't trust reports about teams' quarterback interest this time of the year – both in free agency and the draft. No team debating making such a significant move wants to signal their intentions, and they don't want to insult their current in-house quarterbacks. It's smoke and mirror season.
I'm growing weary of the "Ravens haven't given Lamar weapons" argument. During Jackson's four years as the starter so far, Baltimore has drafted two first-round wide receivers. Aaron Rodgers has received zero from the Packers since entering the league in 2005. Mark Andrews is a pretty great weapon too.
It's fair to wonder what could've been had the Ravens made a mega trade for a wideout. But it's not fair to imply that they did little. It's not Eric DeCosta's fault Marquise Brown requested a trade (after getting the NFL's 10th-most targets) or that Rashod Bateman has been injured.
It's well documented that the Ravens were too thin at wide receiver last year. Let's also not forget that Jackson's top stated priority was to build up his offensive line. DeCosta attacked that, signing Morgan Moses and drafting Tyler Linderbaum. Next up is wide receiver. I expect an aggressive approach.
Had Jackson been given the exclusive franchise tag, the Ravens would have had virtually no ability to upgrade his wide receiver corps outside of another first-round pick. They would have been in salary cap hell. Their decision gives Jackson a better chance to thrive in Baltimore in 2023.
It's difficult to imagine the Ravens being able to make significant free agency signings at wide receiver and cornerback – their clear top two needs. Whichever doesn't get the free agency expenditure will be the leader for a first-round pick. There should be good options at both positions at No. 22.
Chuck Clark will go down as one of the Ravens' best late-round draft picks of all time. There's a lot of stiff competition, but when factoring in the respect Clark earned from teammates both on and off the field to his play between the lines, he's near the top.
The question of who wears the green dot defensive communication helmet has been one of Baltimore's strangely favorite storylines over the years for whatever reason. Without Clark, it's an easy answer. Roquan Smith will be the player relaying defensive calls for years to come.
Kyle Hamilton thrived playing mostly in a nickel/dime role his rookie season. Moving into Clark's spot will be an adjustment, but not a major one. Hamilton will still be moved around the formation. His hiccups early in the season while playing deep were mental. He'll get that ironed out.