Would the Patriots make a run at Lamar Jackson?
The New England Patriots have quietly set themselves up to be an ideal landing spot for Lamar Jackson.
That sounds strange considering the team spent a first-round pick on Mac Jones in 2021. The Patriots have seen Jones up in 2021 and down in 2022. It would be early to give up on Jones’ development.
But that’s not exactly what they’d be doing if the Patriots acquired Lamar.
Yes, the Patriots would almost definitely have to trade Jones. He didn’t like sitting on the bench when he was injured in 2022. He will not like sitting on the bench if he’s healthy.
But if the Patriots were to pursue Jackson, it would be a matter of value and opportunity.
It’s rare for a top-tier 26-year-old quarterback to become available. You really don’t see it. And the truth is that, if Jackson can get back to his MVP form, he will be worth whatever cost the Patriots have to give up to get him. At face value, Jackson is likely to cost two first-round picks — which would appease the NFL rules around the non-exclusive franchise tag — along with a salary that hovers near $50 million per year (fully guaranteed).
At that value, the Patriots won’t have interest.
But given that the market for Jackson has not materialized — so far as we can tell — I wonder if those costs are fixed. Might the Ravens part ways with Jackson for a package of assets worth less than two first-round picks? Might the Patriots negotiate a package that includes Jones? And what about Jackson’s demands of a fully guaranteed deal at $50 million per year? Maybe he’s willing to budge off that number, now that he sees the league-wide pushback he’s getting.
Patriots interested in Lamar Jackson?
One of the teams reportedly interested in Lamar Jackson is New England, and Craig Carton asks Victor Cruz whether Bill Belichick could be the perfect pairing for Lamar.
To be clear, I’m of the mind that Jackson’s demands make sense. He’s due the payday he’s asking for. But it seems more and more likely that Jackson will not get the contract he desires (and, in my mind, deserves).
So if the Patriots can get themselves a bargain — both in the trade package and the contract — then would they enter the mix?
Bill Belichick is a man who loves bargain shopping. He likes to buy assets at their lowest value. That feels like where Jackson’s value stands. There’s more scrutiny than ever about his injury history and his prowess as a passer. Those concerns, whether legitimate or not, could create a buying opportunity for Belichick.
The crazy thing is that the Patriots can set Jackson up to succeed. They have multiple pieces in place to maximize the quarterback’s value.
Where should Lamar Jackson play next year?
Nick Wright, Chris Broussard and Kevin Wildes discuss the idea of the Patriots possibly pursing Lamar Jackson. Wright shares fives possible landing spots where he would like Jackson to play.
Offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien built an offense around Deshaun Watson in Houston — and Bryce Young at Alabama. O’Brien has a track record of maximizing the potential of a few mobile quarterbacks.
The Patriots also have player personnel that could help Lamar. New England just signed tight end Mike Gesicki to a one-year deal. Gesicki and incumbent tight end Hunter Henry could be a huge boon to Jackson, whose favorite target in Baltimore has always been tight end Mark Andrews.
New England’s receiving corps includes JuJu Smith-Schuster and DeVante Parker, a pair of tall possession receivers. New England also has a field-stretcher in receiver Tyquan Thornton, a 2022 second-round pick whose potential remains a question mark. It’s actually a nice combination of options for Jackson — and arguably a better group of pass-catchers than he has ever had with the Ravens.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler indicated that the Patriots might be a “wild card” in the hunt for Jackson, particularly after the draft when teams have taken the top quarterbacks. If the draft leaves teams set at quarterback, then maybe Jackson’s stance could soften. Maybe he’d compromise with a team like the Patriots, who have a situation that might appeal to him.
Let’s be honest, it’s a little crazy. But Belichick is a man who considers and explores every option. He’ll likely keep an eye on this situation as it continues to unfold. And maybe if everything comes together, the Patriots could make a pursuit of the 2019 NFL MVP.
Prior to joining FOX Sports as the AFC East reporter, Henry McKenna spent seven years covering the Patriots for USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Boston Globe Media. Follow him on Twitter at @McKennAnalysis.
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