The Baltimore Ravens are betting Lamar Jackson sticks around for at least one more season thanks to the non-exclusive franchise tag. It’s a risky strategy since Jackson is allowed to negotiate with other teams, but the Ravens can mitigate any risk by finally equipping their franchise quarterback with a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver.
Jerry Jeudy is one pass-catcher who fits the bill, and Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay believes the Ravens could get him by trading two 2023 NFL draft picks to the Denver Broncos. Specifically, Kay has Ravens’ general manager Eric DeCosta sending a third-round pick (86th overall) and a fifth-rounder (pick 157) to acquire “the ideal wideout to raise the ceiling on Baltimore’s offense for the foreseeable future.”
There’s just one problem. Namely, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported the Broncos are said to want “at least a first-round pick.”
Howe also reported Jeudy is drawing interest from one of the Ravens’ familiar AFC foes, the New England Patriots, who have already “called about” the player drafted 15th overall in 2020.
A steep asking price, along with competition from within the conference, should deter the Ravens from pursuing a deal for Jeudy, but there are alternatives. Fortunately, the Broncos aren’t picky about which wide receiver they trade this offseason.
Somebody like Jeudy’s teammate Courtland Sutton would be a better fit at M&T Bank Stadium.
Jerry Jeudy Teammate the Receiver Ravens Should Pursue
Jeudy isn’t the only pass-catcher on the trading block in Denver. Not when ESPN’s Dan Graziano revealed the Broncos have also “had talks with teams” regarding Sutton and KJ Hamler.
Of all three options, Sutton is the most worth the Ravens going after. He’s 6’4″ and 216 pounds, exactly the kind of big-bodied target Jackson has lacked on the outside for too long.
Sutton has also consistently made big plays, having averaged at least 13 yards per reception every year since entering the NFL in 2018. He only tallied 829 yards on a disappointing Broncos team in 2022, but Sutton still produced his fair share of contested catches and spectacular grabs, including this one against the Tennessee Titans from Week 10:
What Sutton doesn’t possess is the same vertical speed as Jeudy. Yet, the latter has had trouble staying on the field, having missed nine games the last two seasons, mainly due to ankle issues.
Sutton’s endured his own injury problems, but he’s been healthy enough to start 31 games the last two years. The 27-year-old also sounds ready to find a new home, at least based on this tweet posted Friday, March 10: “I just want to be where I’m wanted and appreciated.”
If the Ravens were to do a deal for a Broncos’ receiver, it should involve Sutton. He’d be the go-to target capable of making Jackson happy and more productive.
Ravens Praised for ‘Genius’ Strategy With Lamar Jackson
Not everybody was impressed when the Ravens used the non-exclusive tag to keep Jackson, at least for the moment, but one agent thinks “it was genius of Baltimore to put the low franchise tag on him and say, ‘Go figure out your market and come back to us. We’ll pay it,’” per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.
What the agent was referring to is Jackson being allowed to field offers from other teams once the new league year officially began at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 15. The Ravens can see those offers and choose to match or not, while also gauging what the market is prepared to offer Jackson.
That last point is pertinent because it means Baltimore can adjust its negotiating strategy based on how other teams value Jackson. Those other teams who might make offers include the “Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans and Washington Commanders,” according to Hensley.
Ultimately, the best deterrent against Jackson wanting to pursue new opportunities may not be how much is offered for his next deal. Instead, it might be what the Ravens do to equip him with some new weapons.
Fortunately, it’s a situation the Broncos appear well-placed to help solve.