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Lamar Jackson situation shows Les Snead got it right with Matthew Stafford

Les Snead got it right when he traded for Matthew Stafford

Super Bowl LVI - Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

One of the biggest stories of the NFL offseason has been what the Baltimore Ravens will do with Lamar Jackson. As the NFL seasons nears, it seems less and less likely that Jackson will be back in Baltimore for 2023. That’s especially the case when Jackson has requested a trade from the Ravens.

A trade for Jackson isn’t complicated for NFL teams. The Ravens placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on him, meaning if another team agrees to a contract with Jackson, Baltimore would have five days to match. If they don’t, that team would then send the Ravens a pair of first round picks.

The problem here is that teams haven’t necessarily been lining up at the door to sign Jackson. This is a former NFL MVP who has helped lead the Ravens to the playoffs in four of the past five seasons.

Given the landscape of the quarterback position in the NFL, especially looking at some of the teams’ situations, it’s certainly odd. Teams sometimes spend decades trying to find a franchise quarterback. Now one available for the taking and teams have cold feet.

In 2021, Les Snead didn’t hesitate when making the trade for Matthew Stafford. Jared Goff was a fine quarterback. As the Los Angeles Rams and now Detroit Lions have proven, if you put him in an ideal situation, you can win a lot of games with Goff.

However, Snead didn’t just want to win a lot of games. The goal was the Super Bowl and Snead traded two first round picks and Goff to the Lions to land Stafford. Over drinks in Cabo, Stafford became a Ram and he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy almost a year later.

These moves don’t always work out as shown in Russell Wilson’s situation last year with the Broncos, but these are the types of swings you have to be willing to make in the NFL.

The Washington Commanders currently have Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett preparing for a quarterback position this offseason. Head coach Ron Rivera was recently quoted saying that Jackson a “tremendous talent” but that the Commanders didn’t try to land him because they felt it wasn’t the right direction for the team.

Again, this is a team that seems content and ready to start Sam Howell or Jacoby Brissett. Are they winning, let alone making the playoffs with either of those quarterbacks taking snaps? If anything, Washington is the most ready for a move like this given the pieces on defense and weapons on offense.

The Atlanta Falcons are set to start Desmond Ridder after having a surprising 2022 season in which they went 7-10. In a wide open NFL South, the Falcons should be sprinting for Lamar Jackson to give fans in Atlanta what they missed out on with Michael Vick.

Jackson would be a perfect fit in Arthur Smith’s run-heavy offense, paired with Kyle Pitts and Drake London. Instead, Smith went on the Rich Eisen show and while he acknowledged Jackson’s value, he said team needs take priority. Is winning not a team need or priority?

Snead deserves some criticism for his draft history and some of the contracts that he’s handed out. However, he’s never been afraid to make the big move. This aggressiveness is a big reason why the Rams landed Stafford over a team like the Carolina Panthers who were also in the Stafford sweepstakes. The Stafford trade is one thing that Snead very much got right.

Still, teams seem to be content with guys like Howell, Brissett, Ridder, etc. at quarterback. The Indianapolis Colts could end up with the third-best quarterback in the upcoming draft and would prefer that over someone of Jackson’s talent.

There is obviously the case of Jackson’s contract and what the demands are in that deal. Reports have suggested that Jackson wants a large sum of guaranteed money which only makes sense after quarterbacks like Kyler Murray got $189.5M of his $230.5M contract guaranteed. DeShaun Watson’s fully guaranteed deal with the Cleveland Browns certainly shifted the table in the quarterback market.

This is now the price of the top-end quarterback. Pay-up or get left behind.

The Lamar Jackson situation is going to be one that everyone will be following throughout the offseason. He could very well end up staying with the Ravens when all is said and done. However, in situations like this, it’s certainly worth looking back on the Matthew Stafford trade and how Snead wasn’t afraid to make the franchise-altering move.