If all other circumstances were the same, and the Denver Broncos were in the starting QB market in the 2023 NFL offseason, would they be pursuing Baltimore Ravens franchise player Lamar Jackson? It's an interesting topic to discuss right now because it seems and feels like the entire NFL is colluding against Jackson for one reason or another. Whether Jackson is asking for too much guaranteed money, whether it's because he doesn't have an agent, or whether teams are concerned about the cost of a trade, there are valid reasons why nobody has gone all-in in their pursuit of Jackson to this point.
Ultimately, the topic of Lamar Jackson is -- for the time being -- irrelevant to the Denver Broncos. It doesn't look like he's joining the AFC West anytime soon, much less being pursued by the Broncos (although you never know what the circumstances will be in 2024...). With that being said, there is some concrete evidence out there you can point to if you want to argue that the Denver Broncos probably wouldn't be interested in Lamar Jackson even if they were in the QB market this offseason.
Why? Listen to the words of Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton from back in January when he was still working as an analyst for FOX Sports.
It sounds to me like Sean Payton did not like the way Lamar Jackson handled his injury status at the end of last season. He also seemed to intimate that Jackson was clearly putting himself before the team in this instance, and it's an interesting theory, to say the least. Although there have been opinions shared all across the board about what was really going on with Jackson and the Ravens last season, many have come to the conclusion that Jackson probably could have played at some point amidst that playoff run for Baltimore but chose not to due to his contract situation.
That's not someone anyone really knows for a fact, but remember -- it was a game against the Denver Broncos in which Jackson was hit early and often when he went down with that season-ending injury, and the initial timeline for his return to the field was supposed to be 1-3 weeks. It ended up being months.
It doesn't look like head coach Sean Payton was really a fan of all that, even a little bit, and therefore we come to the conclusion that the Broncos would probably be passing on Jackson even if they did need a QB.
And frankly, it's not impossible to think that a lot of NFL teams are thinking this way. It could also be a major reason why the Ravens gave the 2019 NFL MVP the "non-exclusive" franchise tag, and are allowing him to negotiate with other teams. Do the Ravens even want him? They are currently entertaining the possibility of a first-round QB in 2023.
The Broncos are in a position right now where they invested a ton in Russell Wilson, but after the 2023 season, Sean Payton might get to start fresh at the position depending on what ends up happening with Russ in 2023. If Wilson struggles, it's probably going to be clear that he's the main problem and not the coaching. Sean Payton has historically gotten the best out of almost every QB he's coached, if not all of them.
Lamar Jackson should be one of the most coveted players in the league. It makes very little sense on the surface why multiple teams got into a bidding war to trade for and sign Deshaun Watson last year and they're not lining up to do the same for Jackson. If you compare the two situations, I think it's fair to be harsh in your criticism of the NFL. But the deal that was done for Watson should be considered bad business, not the new norm. Not even Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen got fully guaranteed contracts.
Watson's deal set a horrendous precedent and it seems -- fair or not -- like Lamar Jackson is getting the brunt of the NFL's new hard stance against making deals like that. That is, at least, until we see the mega contracts given out to Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert...