Lamar Jackson To The Texans: Why It Works? Why It Doesn't?
The Lamar Jackson sweepstakes isn’t gaining steam after announcing his trade request from the Baltimore Ravens. Only a handful of teams expressed indirect interest in acquiring the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player, while others backed out from even considering a potential deal.
The Texans did not categorically close the possibility of pursuing the dual-threat quarterback. In an article by SI.com’s Matthew Legros, head coach DeMeco Ryans said during the NFL owners' meeting in Phoenix that they are looking for all options, including a potential trade for the Louisville alumnus.
Meanwhile, left tackle Laremy Tunsil made a pitch to Jackson with this tweet:
Those are two key Texans figures open to having the only quarterback with multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons. But acquiring a quarterback at the prime of his career makes sense. They need a boost, significantly, since they have fallen on hard times over the last three seasons.
Why The Texans Must Acquire Lamar Jackson
With Jackson behind center, the Texans have a quarterback who can adapt to the scheme that offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik will install. It will be his first time calling plays, and he will likely use the system he has seen for years. Kyle Shanahan’s zone running scheme works best for a mobile quarterback like Jackson, especially in adjusting plays to exploit the gaps.
Likewise, having Jackson run the plays revitalizes Houston’s running attack. The Texans finished 31st in the league, averaging 86.8 yards per game. That’s alarming, considering that Dameon Pierce showed promise before succumbing to injury. Jackson, Pierce, and Devin Singletary would be a nice trio to jumpstart the team’s rushing attack.
Finally, as ESPN’s Bill Barnwell pointed out, the AFC South is wide open, and Jackson’s move can help the Texans regain their status as division champions. For now, the Jacksonville Jaguars are a one-year wonder, while the Indianapolis Colts are still looking for a franchise quarterback since Andrew Luck retired. The Tennessee Titans are also looking to rebuild after a potential Derrick Henry trade.
If the Texans acquire Jackson, they can also consider trading away the number two pick, and it will attract massive interest. Houston can request a combination of picks and a bona fide starter to upgrade their talent level quickly. Or they can bolster their defense by drafting Will Anderson Jr. if they manage to hold on to that pick.
How Can The Texans Get Lamar Jackson
There are two routes the Texans can explore. First, they sign Jackson to an offer sheet that the Ravens can match. If they don’t, the Ravens will get two first-round picks as compensation. Baltimore offered Jackson a $32.4 million non-exclusive franchise tag, significantly lower than the quarterback market's ceiling.
With the Texans having an effective cap space of $8.5 million per Over the Cap, they would have to do some player movement to make Jackson’s deal fit within the cap. However, they can take a page from the Browns’ financial strategy by deferring more guaranteed money to future seasons.
Should they acquire Jackson via this option, giving away draft picks is something the Texans can afford. They can surrender the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft and the first-rounder they’ve acquired from the Browns. Despite losing those selections, Houston will still have the 2nd overall pick in 2023 and their own 2024 first-rounder.
Even without the 12th pick, the Texans will still have 11 picks left in 2023, including three in the top 73. It’s time to cash in on that stockpile by surrounding Jackson with talented skill position players. General Manager Nick Caserio can also welcome trades from other teams in exchange for some of those picks, granted that they are getting a favorable return.
Second, they can also explore a sign-and-trade scenario with the Ravens in hopes of holding both of their first-round picks next year. Given that the Texans are not relenting on Jackson’s demands, they can use their leverage to offer a combination of day two and day three picks. For now, Baltimore’s asking price might be high but the longer the impasse remains, Jackson may be available at a bargain.
Why Lamar Jackson To The Texans Won't Happen
Jackson has a price tag on his mind. For better or worse, he is seeking a guaranteed deal bigger than Deshaun Watson’s five-year, $230 million contract. He has the right to request a $50-million-per-year deal, considering he has achieved more than Watson over the last four seasons. But are the Texans willing to pay that considerable amount?
On a related note, are they willing to get a quarterback who has missed extensive time over the last two seasons? If they are to be in contention, they would want a play caller who is available every week. There’s no sense in giving a fully-guaranteed contract to someone who can’t participate in every game.
The Texans will also likely use the number two pick for a quarterback, and it’s becoming a two-horse race between C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young. While both prospects have pros and cons, Houston must settle for who the Carolina Panthers don't select, which will likely be Young.
Suppose that’s how the ball rolls, Ryans and Slowik will give him every chance to win a starting role and perform consistently. It’s a high-risk, high-reward scenario they are willing to explore, mainly because they are getting a starter on a rookie contract. Their remaining cap space will allow them to build the squad around him.
Finally, the sustainability of Jackson’s playing style is also questionable, as alluded to by Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank. It’s only a matter of time before he cannot explode through gaps like he used to. Can he remain productive if that time comes? But then again, a more creative scheme than what Greg Roman has may limit his dependence on scrambling.
But whether the Texans get Jackson or not, the odds of him getting what he wants are not in his favor, unless there is a seismic change or he admits he was dealt terrible cards.