During and after last night's memorable Christmas Eve win over the 49ers, some chatter surfaced on social media regarding the fact that anyone could have signed quarterback Lamar Jackson to the offer sheet in March, and that no one was even trying.
This is technically true. But the failure of teams in need of a quarterback to not take a second look at Lamar has nothing to do with making a particular team more competitive. It was all about promoting ownership's not-so-subtle collusion when it comes to players, coaches, and anyone/everyone else on the payroll.
In 2022, the Browns turned the NFL on its head by giving quarterback Deshaun Watson a five-year, $230 million contract, every penny of which was fully guaranteed at signing. multiple owners (Including Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti) He complained publicly about Cleveland's desire to disrupt the way things were done.
By 2023, the Ravens had dared the rest of the NFL to try to sign Jackson to an offer sheet by applying the non-exclusive franchise tag. Any team could have put on the table an offer that: (1) Jackson would have accepted; and (2) the two crows were not identical.
Instead, team after team has made it clear they have no interest in the man who is now poised to win his second MVP award. Similar to avoiding Colin Kaepernick, teams whispered a laundry list of false narratives to reporters, hoping to cover up the basic fact that the owners wanted to prevent other owners from replicating or expanding the practice of giving veteran players full five-year-guaranteed contracts.
And it worked. The backlash against Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has everyone in line.
What about the first-round picks it would have cost to acquire Lamar? In addition to the money, the Browns gave up three first-round picks and three mid-round picks for Watson. The Panthers traded two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and receiver DJ Moore in exchange for quarterback Bryce Young. Giving up a pair of first-round picks to get a one-time and future MVP is peanuts, in the grand scheme of things.
What about the fact that the Ravens could have made Lamar any offer? Well, make them do it. Make them pay more than they want. Put them in the cover problem.
Although every owner will say they want to win a Super Bowl, there is a bigger game they are playing. It's about controlling the relationship with the players. It's about reminding them at all times who's boss.
Watson's contract sent the pendulum swinging toward the players. Lamar's lack of interest has rebalanced football's version of power.
Yes, anyone could have tried to acquire Lamar Jackson. Nobody wants to do that. Because everyone wanted to make sure Watson's contract would be an aberration rather than a trend.
“Devoted travel trailblazer. Freelance beer scholar. Passionate analyst. Hardcore twitter fanatic.”