Jim Irsay Addresses Potential Colts Lamar Jackson Pursuit

Lamar Jackson provided the latest update to his contract standoff with the Ravens yesterday, revealing that he asked for a trade earlier this month. That could open the door even further to outside teams pursuing him, with many pointing to the Colts has a potential destination.

Owner Jim Irsay was asked about the subject during the league meetings, and his responses highlighted his hesitancy to commit to Jackson on the type of contract he is said to be seeking. To little surprise, Irsay noted the matter of guarantees as the primary obstacle with respect to the Colts attempting to secure the former MVP.

“For me, for the good of the game, boy, I don’t believe fully guaranteed contracts would be good for our game at all,” Irsay said, via Zak Keefer of The Athletic (subscription required). “I’ve seen what it’s done to other sports leagues and I just don’t think that it’s a positive… Our game is great and it’s great for a number of reasons, but I don’t think guaranteed contracts make our game greater, I think it makes it worse.”

Jackson has long been thought to be seeking a fully guaranteed deal similar to the one Deshaun Watson signed with the Browns last offseason (five years, $230MM). It has become clear – between QB extensions signed after that pact, and the tepid market Jackson has seen for potential offer sheets – that the rest of the NFL is intent of keeping the Watson accord an exception, rather than the start of a new trend.

As has been the case since Andrew Luck retired, Indianapolis is searching for a long-term answer at the QB spot. Irsay’s comments have made it clear that a repeat of the team’s veteran acquisitions (including Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan) should not be expected in 2023. The Colts own the No. 4 pick in the upcoming draft, but are likely to have seen two signal-callers come off the board by that point. Veteran Gardner Minshew represents a relatively high-upside backup, but he is not considered the Week 1 starter at this point.

That could steer the Colts towards an aggressive pursuit of Jackson. Irsay’s latest remarks confirmed that the door remains open to such action, though the impact of the financial commitment which will be necessary to secure the 26-year-old remains front of mind for him.

“It has nothing to do with actual dollars,” Irsay said. “I mean, paying a contact like that is not a problem… the issue is, what’s the right thing to do for the franchise, in terms of what helps us win in the long run? I mean, you need more than just a quarterback.”

Their draft situation could still lead the Colts to take the draft route to secure their next franchise signal-caller. With a tag-and-trade (rather than strictly an offer sheet) now firmly available as an option to acquire Jackson, however, Indianapolis remains a team to watch as his playing future unfolds.

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