It was a fun bit of offseason speculation, but reality has now set in: the New England Patriots will not be pursuing quarterback Lamar Jackson, as first reported by Jeff Howe of The Athletic.
The topic gained traction at the NFL owners meetings this week. Meeting with the media for a brief Q&A on Monday, Patriots owner Robert Kraft spoke about the apparent interest Jackson has for joining his team.
That interest does not appear to be a two-way street, however. Instead, the Patriots remain committed to building around their current starting quarterback, Mac Jones.
Jackson, 26, became available earlier this offseason. The former first-round draft pick and one-time league MVP received the non-exclusive franchise tag from the Baltimore Ravens in mid-March, allowing teams to enter contract negotiations with him. So far, however, neither the Patriots nor any other club has gone after him.
The saga received another twist on Monday. Not only did Kraft talk about Jackson, the five-year veteran himself made a trade request public. With him seemingly on his way out of Baltimore, and the Patriots coming off a disappointing season of quarterback play, the stars seemed to align perfectly for the club to make a push.
And yet, it will not. Economics are a big reason why.
Jackson is rumored to be looking for a fully-guaranteed contract that would challenge the five-year, $230 million deal Deshaun Watson signed with the Cleveland Browns last offseason. In addition, the Ravens are still holding his rights: any team would either have to meet Baltimore’s trade demands, or part ways with two first-round draft pick in case he were to leave via an offer sheet.
That might very well still happen at one point this offseason. However, don’t count on the Patriots being the team to invest in Jackson.