How to bet Lamar Jackson saga: Futures on Ravens, Falcons worth a shot

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It’s been two months since the Ravens’ season unceremoniously ended without Lamar Jackson on the field for the second straight year.

And it’s an open question whether he’ll take the field for the team next year, either.

On Tuesday, Baltimore extended a non-exclusive franchise tag to the former NFL MVP winner, which allows him to negotiate with other teams starting next week.

If he signs a deal with another club, the Ravens have the right to match the contract terms or receive two future first-round picks if they don’t.

It’s a fascinating and dramatic development in the protracted contract dispute between the two sides, which has seen very little progress on an extension two years in the making.

It also leaves plenty of uncertainty about Jackson’s next home – and some legitimate value in the betting market as we wait for the dominos to fall.

We’re likely to learn a lot more on Monday when teams can begin negotiating with Jackson ahead of Wednesday’s official start of NFL free agency.

Until then, here’s how we’re betting the situation, with odds via Caesars Sportsbook:

Bet the Ravens to win the Super Bowl (25/1)

It may sound counterintuitive, but Baltimore’s decision to place the non-exclusive tag on Jackson might be the biggest signal yet that the team wants him back for the 2023 NFL season.

Think about it: if the Ravens felt it was in their best interest to move on from Jackson, they would have been better off using the exclusive tag and maintaining his full contractual rights for a trade without the risk of losing him via free agency.

If recent blockbuster deals are any indication, they could have anticipated a return of at least three first-round picks, and maybe more.

Instead, the team opted for the lesser tag, inviting teams to do the negotiating for them – which suggests they’ll match anything that isn’t fully guaranteed.

And while that doesn’t mean Jackson won’t find such a deal, the tepid response from leagues in the wake of Tuesday’s news suggests he won’t.

And if Jackson does return to the team that drafted him, Baltimore’s odds to win the Super Bowl could look like a steal in hindsight.


Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) flips his way into the endzone for the game-winning touchdown in a 2021 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs.
AP

As of Thursday, the Ravens are 25/1 to win it all at Caesars and as high as 30/1 elsewhere – their longest preseason price since entering the 2019 campaign as 40/1 long shots.

We all know how that turned out: Jackson torched the league en route to unanimous MVP honors and a 14-2 record, and Baltimore was dealing as short as +200 entering the postseason.

This team’s defense is better now than it was then, and it could be one of the best units in the league next season – especially if Jackson signs an extension with a team-friendly cap hit in 2023.

That would also help this team finally address the receiver issue that’s plagued this team for Jackson’s entire tenure.

Jackson has led the Ravens to a 46-19 record as a starter since he entered the league in 2018, which ranks behind only Patrick Mahomes (74-19) and Drew Brees (32-11) in win percentage among quarterbacks with at least 30 starts.

If he’s on the field for Baltimore in 2023, this is a Super Bowl contender hiding in plain sight, and the market is yet to catch up.

Take a shot on the Falcons (80/1)

If there’s any team with the resources and ready-made situation to roll out the red carpet for Jackson, it’s got to be the Falcons, who are dealing as high as 80/1 to win the Super Bowl at Caesars.

Let’s address the elephant in the room: every report over the last two days has suggested Atlanta isn’t interested.

That’s been the case for half a dozen QB-needy teams, to the point that it’s hard to believe any of the smoke coming from “sources” who clearly have something to gain with a coordinated leak.

It’s especially hard to believe the Falcons wouldn’t be interested considering their spirited pursuit of Deshaun Watson last offseason before the Browns won those sweepstakes with three firsts and $230 million in guaranteed money.

We’re supposed to believe this team has zero interest in a more accomplished player for a similar (and maybe even lesser) price tag?


Atlanta Falcons pass-catchers Drake London (5) and Kyle Pitts
Atlanta Falcons pass-catchers Drake London (5) and Kyle Pitts
Getty Images

On paper, Atlanta is a perfect destination for Jackson, who would become the centerpiece of an offense that finished 13th in offensive DVOA last year with Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder under center.

That’s a testament to Arthur Smith’s creativity as a play-caller – imagine what he could do with Jackson – but also to the young talent on this offense with former top-10 picks Drake London and Kyle Pitts in tow.

If the front office uses whatever remains of its roughly $60 million in cap space to reshape this defense, the Falcons could immediately contend in the wide-open NFC South and maybe even the conference at large.

Is it a long shot? Yes. Is it worth a wager? Absolutely.

Keep an eye on the Colts (150/1)

There hasn’t been much linking Jackson to the Colts, who have spent years cycling through veteran quarterbacks to revitalize their franchise.

But we haven’t heard much to dispel a potential union, either.

That’s notable given how many teams have used the media to throw cold water on the idea of a Jackson pursuit.

Meanwhile, we’ve heard radio silence from Indianapolis, which is posturing to add a quarterback in some fashion this offseason.

The Colts would need to get creative with their cap sheet to make a big contract work, and they’d likely be hesitant to move the No. 4 pick in accordance with an offer sheet for Jackson.

Yet that might also be the exact type of bargaining chip to persuade the Ravens not to match, even if the terms of a new contract aren’t fully guaranteed.

Get the lowdown on the Best USA Sports Betting Sites and Apps

Outside of quarterback, Indianapolis has a ready-made roster to contend in a weak AFC South, and new head coach Shane Steichen is fresh off building an offense that nearly propelled Jalen Hurts to MVP honors.

Could he do the same with Jackson? At 150/1 odds, I’ll gladly sprinkle a few bucks to find out.

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