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2 reasons why the Buccaneers should and should not pursue Lamar Jackson

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Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens
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The disgruntled quarterback has made it official; he wants out of Baltimore.

While March 27th may have been a normal day for many, Lamar Jackson set off a ticking time bomb, which detonated all over the NFL world. Twitter was ablaze when Jackson fired off a series of tweets where he detailed his current standing with the Baltimore Ravens as well as his future plans for his NFL career, in what he deemed a letter to his fans.

A few quarterback-needy teams have already been linked to Jackson as potential landing spots, but should the Bucs be one of them?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have historically struggled under center. The team is coming off three years of Hall of Fame play at the position, but that level of performance has been anything but the ‘norm’ in Tampa Bay. Tom Brady’s re-retirement has opened up new doors with old questions for 2020 Super Bowl champions and the current answers to those questions? Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask. To some, those names represent an awful season ahead, others maintain the belief that the pending competition may breed a quality starter still.

Here’s two reasons why the Buccaneers should pursue Lamar Jackson:

Denver Broncos v Baltimore Ravens
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1. The addition of Lamar Jackson instantly makes Tampa Bay Super Bowl favorites again.

If the Buccaneers were able to land Lamar Jackson it would take seconds for Tampa Bay to be projected as favorites to win it all. The Buccaneers are just a few seasons away from a championship and have made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons. Many of the players from Tampa’s Super Bowl roster are still under contract. Lamar Jackson would be, not only an upgrade over what the Buccaneers currently have in their quarterback room but, an upgrade over almost every conference rival’s current plan at the position. Jackson is a former MVP with legitimate playoff experience and a proven track record who, in Tampa, would take the field each Sunday playing for a team with more weapons than he has ever had to work with before.

2. The NFC is WEAK.

Upon arrival, Lamar Jackson would immediately be, at worst, the second-best quarterback in the conference. The league is in a rare state where it is rich with talented, young franchise quarterbacks, fortunately for Tampa Bay, nearly all of them play in the AFC. The other noteworthy NFC title contenders all have major question marks associated with their chances at a 2023 championship. Last year’s NFC representative was the Philadelphia Eagles, they do not have any questions about their quarterback but since February they have been drained of talent like a pool with a leak. On the west coast, the San Francisco 49ers are undoubtedly a favorite to compete for a championship, but they have as large a question mark as any team in the league at the quarterback position going into next season. The Dallas Cowboys appear to be gearing up for a run at a title with talented acquisitions but the Lone Star State has not put forth a Super Bowl representative since the 1990’s, despite talented rosters throughout that time. Things are slated to be wide open in the NFC South as well as the NFC North. Lamar Jackson in a Buccaneers uniform spells playoffs and a chance to ring chase for Tampa Bay.

Here’s two reasons why the Buccaneers should NOT pursue Lamar Jackson:

1. Injuries

Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns
Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

If Lamar Jackson is Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback, the path to another championship goes from a tiny stem of light poking through a peephole to a flood light shining down on all of Central Florida. “If” is a key component though. During Jackson’s tenure in Baltimore the Ravens have played a lot of meaningful games with Tyler Huntley. Deep in the season, while the Ravens have been amidst playoff hunts the team has needed to turn to their backup quarterback and hand him the ball. Jackson’s injuries may not be as concerning if he had a different play style or if he was not seeking a contract with such astronomical guarantees.

Paradoxically, Jackson’s playstyle is what makes him special. It is the sole reason he was a first-round pick and why he went on to place an MVP award on his resumé. That being said, the style of quarterback that Jackson plays, does not favor longevity. Jackson is 26 years old, young for an NFL quarterback, but without extensive growth as a passer Lamar Jackson is not the type of quarterback who will play another 10 years and still manage to be elite at 36 years old. For the same reason that running backs, even exceptional ones, struggle to play past a certain age, running quarterbacks have a much quicker ticking clock than pocket passing quarterbacks. That’s partly why so many “randoms” are employed in the league right now, but Cam Newton is not. The human body does not know what position you’re listed at on a roster or a depth chart, it can only take so many collisions and so many hits before eventually it is no longer the same, and for Jackson the injuries have already begun to stack up.

2. The Contract

Perhaps the most obvious issue regarding any potential pursuit of Lamar Jackson is the contract situation. There is a lot that remains unclear in terms of what Jackson wants and what he would be willing to accept. Much of the mainstream media narrative has been circling around the idea that Lamar Jackson is demanding a fully guaranteed contract and he is out to get something similar to what Deshaun Watson received from the Cleveland Browns. The truth is rarely black or white, it usually lies somewhere in the gray, however it is certain that Jackson is seeking a very substantial dollar amount. He has shown that he will stand his ground and remain very stubborn is his belief of his value.

There is nothing wrong with valuing yourself highly and Jackson’s performance since he’s been in the league certainly merits a new contract, but the Buccaneers may not be in the best position to give him one. Tampa has spent this entire offseason strapped against the salary cap and despite Jason Licht’s nifty navigation around it, crafting a way to fit in a massive payday for Lamar Jackson would require beyond elite craftsmanship, especially considering that players like Antione Winfield Jr. and Tristan Wirfs among others will coming up for contract extensions in the near future.

It seems like it will not be in Baltimore, but Lamar Jackson will be playing somewhere in 2023—

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