Admittedly, I’ve been putting off even discussing the bubbling “should the Ravens trade Lamar Jackson for Deshaun Watson” rumblings we’ve seen on social media for the last couple of weeks.
I’ve been putting it off for one particular reason — there is absolutely zero reason to think there is any remote legitimacy to the conversation. The tweets and Facebook comments have been built off of nothing other than innuendo. There have been hypothetical questions asked. Various pundits have suggested that the Ravens are one of the teams in the NFL that should at least consider the possibility that Watson could be an upgrade.
And, like how we react to meteorologists who are slightly off in their snow total projections, we’ve handled each of these trade suggestions on social media completely appropriately and haven’t shown our collective ass any more than, say, Christopher Meloni on the television program “Oz.”
I’m going to attempt to have an adult conversation about the subject. But I’m not going to distort reality. We must repeatedly say this over and over again. There is absolutely ZERO reason to think there is some sort of legitimate chance the Ravens are in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes right now. There have been no credible reports that have linked them to the superstar quarterback. The only tangible evidence we have about the Ravens’ quarterback plans is, in fact, very much to the contrary.
On Jan. 25, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said he intended to engage in contract extension conversations with Jackson in the next 10 days.
“He has played phenomenal football over the last couple of years. Our intention, and my intention, is to keep him in Baltimore for many, many years.”
Right. So that’s that. You’ve got your answer. The Ravens have a quarterback, they love their quarterback and they’re not moving on from their quarterback — who, and you guys aren’t going to believe this, was the UNANIMOUS MVP OF THE LEAGUE JUST LAST YEAR.
So. Case closed. Let’s talk about something else, right? Despite the general manager very publicly committing to his quarterback (who has been one of the most electrifying players in the league in each of his first three seasons, led the team to the playoffs in all three seasons and most certainly did NOT need such a vote of confidence), respected pundits and fans alike are still tossing this bizarre topic around.
Let’s recap. The Ravens have one of the best quarterbacks in all of football. Another very good quarterback (Watson) is presumed to be available because he has requested a trade. Absolutely no one has suggested the Ravens would consider swapping out their very good quarterback (who, by the way, they have also built an entire philosophy around) for the other very good quarterback and yet, for some reason, WE. ARE. STILL. DOING. THIS.
What we’re essentially doing at this point is a bit of an “Indecent Proposal” routine. “Sure, the Ravens have every reason to be very happy and have made it quite clear at every turn that they are, but, like, what if someone offered them a million dollars to sleep with their wife?”
That’s essentially what we’re doing here. The conversation exists in part because there are some people who have been desperate to find a way to back up their original takes about Jackson, and since “he’s not a quarterback,” “he can’t pass” and “well he can’t win in the playoffs” are all gone, the best they can come up with at this point is “Deshaun Watson might be a little better than him.”
And of course, Watson MIGHT be. He was highly productive in a toxic environment a season ago but by himself couldn’t overcome what an unmitigated disaster the entire organization was. He’s won as many career playoff games as Jackson. He’s a capable runner but nearly as dangerous or productive as Jackson. He’s a bit of a more traditional quarterback than Jackson, and in the eyes of some that, for some reason, directly translates to “better.”
If in some bizarro world, the Houston Texans decided that Jackson was the quarterback they always lusted after and they wanted to make a straight up “Jackson for Watson” swap, even those of us that are believers in Jackson would be forced to think about it. Watson is quite good, after all! The Ravens would still have to prove they can do better in the wide-receiver department than they’ve done for the last 25 years, but he’s a good one!
It seems highly unlikely that the Texans would want to make a one-for-one trade when they could instead trade for more draft picks (or a quarterback AND draft picks) from other teams. It would be utterly illogical for a Ravens team that has a solution at quarterback to trade more draft capital (capital they’ll need, in part, to hopefully solve wide receiver at some point) just to have a different solution at quarterback. It doesn’t mean Watson might not be better than Jackson (again, maybe!). It means that giving up draft picks to shuffle the deck chairs when you already have cap issues no matter who your quarterback is would be pure insanity.
I know we want this offseason to be wildly exciting because we’re somehow still not through the pandemic yet and we’re not spending two hours a day screaming about what the President rage-tweeted from the toilet anymore, but let’s realistic. The Ravens’ offseason is likely to be roughly as boring as it has always been. Such a strategy has served them well.
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