The Baltimore Ravens have officially made Lamar Jackson available thanks to placing the non-exclusive franchise tag on the star, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have some work to do in order to attempt to orchestrate a move for the quarterback. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell ranked the top potential landing spots for Jackson with the Bucs coming in at No. 6.
What would Tampa Bay need to give up in order to land Jackson? The Ravens could receive as much as two first-round picks if they opt not to match Jackson’s offer from an other team. Things get more complicated if Baltimore helps orchestrate a sign-and-trade for Jackson letting the market dictate his value. Barnwell offers a creative proposal that has Tampa Bay sending a first-round pick along with Chris Godwin to Baltimore in order to sign Jackson.
“If the Bucs wanted to avoid sending two first-round picks to the Ravens for Jackson, they could include a significant player by adding Godwin, which would help create cap space at the cost of losing a star receiver,” Barnwell wrote on March 7, 2023. “At 27, Godwin would be worth more than a first-round pick in a possible trade, but it likely would take Godwin and a first-rounder to get Jackson to Tampa.”
How Can the Bucs Create Enough Cap Space to Sign Lamar Jackson?
The Buccaneers’ cap woes are no secret with the team still more than $47 million above the threshold despite releasing veteran left tackle Donovan Smith. We have seen NFL teams in similar situations get creative in order to free up space, and there is a pathway to land Jackson, even if it is a bit of a long shot.
Tampa Bay is going to have to make cuts regardless and would need to get more aggressive with these moves (in addition to contract restructures) in order to have a chance at Jackson. The Bucs are expected to release Cameron Brate and Leonard Fournette in the coming days.
“They could restructure a few deals to create cap space — and they’re already expected to release Leonard Fournette and Cameron Brate — but there’s not a lot of room for a quarterback in Jackson’s tax bracket,” Barnwell added.
We have seen the Bucs make bold moves before including emerging as a sleeper team to sign Tom Brady. The Draft Network’s JC Cornell believes Tampa Bay should not be discounted in the Jackson sweepstakes, even if it is a long shot.
“There definitely is ways Jason Licht and Mike Greenberg could pull this off,” Cornell tweeted on March 8. “You would have to be okay with Lamar Jackson counting $50M+ to the cap every year after the first season. It’s not impossible but very unlikely. It’s a move that the Glazer’s could push.”
A Sign-and-Trade Could Land the Ravens More Than 2 First-Round Picks for Lamar Jackson
Barnwell’s trade proposal could have some legs for two key reasons. Trading Godwin gives the Ravens something of value at a position where the team lacks consistent playmakers. It would also help the Bucs clear cap space as Godwin is slated to have a $20 million salary for 2023 and could be part of the puzzle for Tampa to create the room needed to add Jackson.
It is important to note that the Ravens are entitled to at least two first-round picks but could orchestrate a sign-and-trade on their own. Under this scenario, Baltimore could get true market value for Jackson in a blockbuster deal which would likely exceed these two draft selections.
“Writing a long piece about this, but remember that if a team wants to sign Jackson, they can negotiate a deal with the Ravens and do it as a sign-and-trade as opposed to going the offer sheet route and giving up two first-round picks,” Barnwell said in a series of March 7 tweets. “Usually, that means something less than two first-rounders, like when the Seahawks signed-and-traded Frank Clark to the Chiefs a few years ago for a 1, a 2, and a swap of threes. Here, it could be that a team offers something more to convince the Ravens not to match.”
While the Bucs have been quiet in finding Brady’s replacement, quarterbacks like Jackson do not come along often and there is a reason to think Tampa Bay could consider making an aggressive move. Jackson’s impressive resume includes being an NFL MVP (2019), two-time Pro Bowler and a former All-Pro. The playmaker threw for 2,242 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing 62.3% of his passes during his 12 appearances in 2022. Jackson added 764 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground posing arguably the most dangerous running threat of any NFL quarterback.