Could the Tampa Bay Buccaneers be the team that lands Lamar Jackson when the music stops? Vegas oddsmakers certainly seem to think so.
It’s officially NFL Rumors SZN when Vegas oddsmakers are entering the chat to give us all content.
Say what you will about them, though, the bookies always know. When it comes to Lamar Jackson and what the conclusion to his wild free agency saga looks like, Vegas has some good news for Bucs fans.
Jackson and the Ravens have reached an impasse in contract negotiations, something that prompted the team to place the non-exclusive franchise tag on him before this week’s deadline. What that means is the team can still negotiate a long-term deal with him, but so can other teams around the NFL.
He’s not an unrestricted free agent able to sign wherever he wants like Derek Carr just did. If Jackson gets an offer from a team that he wants to agree to, then the Ravens reserve the right to match it or demand two first-round draft picks in exchange for the right to sign him.
Take it for what it’s worth, but one of the most likely teams to be on the other side of a Lamar Jackson sign-and-trade appears to be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Buccaneers have the second-highest odds to land Lamar Jackson this offseason
NFL reporter Chris Burke passed along some Vegas odds about where Lamar Jackson will land if the Ravens move on, and the Buccaneers are sitting pretty on the list.
Big time shout out to the Detroit Lions, who once again find themselves in the rumor arena with the Bucs. Last time around it was because Mike Florio threw out the Lions as a dark horse thought exercise landing spot for Tom Brady if he had not decided to retire.
Just like that rumor — if we can even call it that — this seems to be more fantastical than realistic. Sure, the Bucs need a quarterback and if Lamar Jackson was somehow available to them then the front office should absolutely find a way to get him to Tampa Bay. However, once logistics start to be considered, the whole thing falls apart.
First, consider the upfront price it would cost the Bucs to get Lamar. Because the Ravens gave him the non-exclusive tag, Tampa Bay would need to be willing to send two first-round picks to Baltimore before anything else could be discussed.
Sending two first-round picks to the Ravens sounds more intense than it actually is. The Bucs would essentially be trading up to draft Lamar this yea since that would be the price needed to move up to land one of the top quarterbacks in the class. Considering only one of the guys in this conversation has an MVP, it’s not a hard decision to make.
That’s not the steepest cost, though. Baltimore has Lamar on the trade block because of the massive contract he wants. If Tampa Bay trades for him, it’d mean a willingness to give him the huge deal he desires which puts the team right back into a situation where the future is being mortgaged.
Granted, Lamar is going to be around a lot longer than Tom Brady was, but the sentiment is the same. The Bucs kicked the salary cap can down the road to afford the Brady Years, and that bill has come due this offseason in a pretty brutal way. By giving Jackson a huge contract, it’s tying up a ton of future money in him that might end up coming at the expense of pieces that would make the team a Super Bowl contender.
Tristan Wirfs and Antonie Winfield Jr. both need — and will likely get — big extensions next offseason. Devin White and Mike Evans are both entering contract years and will need new deals, and Chris Godwin will expect to be paid after his deal expires after the 2024 season.
Those are massive pieces of the roster that without them the Bucs are a much weaker team. Keep in mind two first-round picks are now gone and the team is unable to use them to replace any of the potential players lost.
Don’t get it twisted, Lamar Jackson is an MVP quarterback who instantly turns the Buccaneers into Super Bowl contenders if added to the current roster. However, he alone can’t carry the team unless he has the talent around him a quarterback of his caliber deserves.
It’s a massive gamble, one with taking if the front office has a plan, but it will need to be the kind of planning that Marvel did leading up to Infinity War and not the kind of haphazard planning that’s going on now.