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What the hell are the Ravens thinking with this Lamar Jackson franchise tag fiasco?

The Ravens has placed the non-exclusive tag on Lamar Jackson in a baffling and almost comical move.

Denver Broncos v Baltimore Ravens Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The 2023 off-season NFL quarterback carousel is underway, and we’ve already had some developments. Derek Carr concluded his short “you’ll miss me when I’m gone” tour and signed with the New Orleans Saints. Aaron Rodgers has emerged from his darkness retreat and is preparing to meet with the upper brass of the New York Jets (the meeting should feel reminiscent of the Brett Farve fiasco in 2009).

The Chicago Bears are the belle of the ball with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. That price should only increase now that Daniel Jones is locked up with the New York Giants, signing a 4-year, $160 million contract. However, some moves stretch the logic of the mind. It is a common note that you need a great quarterback to go to the next level. The Baltimore Ravens saw their team go 8-3 by Week 12 last season, have their star Lamar Jackson get hurt, promptly lose their next six games to miss the playoffs and say, “Nope. We don't need Lamar.”

I will describe it in a way that I would a horror film scenario. A classic setup in horror is either a dark corridor or a spooky house that contains a ghost, ghoul, vampire, etc. Let’s say the bad guy is the non-exclusive franchise tag. The Baltimore Ravens would then be the character who goes to investigate despite everybody telling them no. You’re screaming at the screen, but they still fall into the trap – Boom. Game over.

It’s not like great quarterbacks grow on trees. To leave a 26-year-old MVP and two-time All-Pro up in a market with teams desperate in that position is a choice. Maybe the Ravens will come to their senses and offer Jackson a legit long-term deal; they have until July 17 to work out a long-term extension. If you’re a team that doesn’t have a top-five quarterback in the League, you have to pick up the phone.

Jackson is 45-16 as the Ravens’ starter – this is without the lack of a No. 1 receiver. If I were a general manager (I am not), I would try to get a No. 1 option to supplement with my great tight end, Mark Andrews. Imagine if Jackson had two... maybe even three options to throw to. Crazy! Then, this could help with the durability issues because Jackson would actually have options to throw to rather than run. Instead, every suitor will be knocking at his door either to steal him away or drive the price up so high the Ravens won’t be able to make certain moves.

It didn’t have to be like this, but some teams must learn the hard way. Management doesn’t remember the days of Tony Banks and Elvis Grbac, and it shows.