For weeks, teams around the league have had the option of making an aggressive pursuit of Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, since he was issued the non-exclusive franchise tag. Very little interest has emerged regarding either an offer sheet or a tag-and-trade, however, including from the Falcons, a team many pointed to as a potential landing spot.
Atlanta was the first team reported to turn down interest in acquiring the former MVP, whose contract standoff with the Ravens has taken a number of public turns. The most recent of those, of course, was Jackson’s revelation that he has a month-long standing trade request with Baltimore, since the team has remained unwilling to meet his asking price.
One day after Jackson’s desire to be traded become known, the Falcons committed to 2022 third-rounder Desmond Ridder as their starting quarterback heading into next season. The 23-year-old served as Atlanta’s QB1 for four games to close out the 2022 campaign, taking over from veteran Marcus Mariota. Ridder didn’t put up eye-catching numbers in his audition, but he did enough to convince the Falcons to avoid the high cost (in both draft capital and finances) which would be required to land Jackson.
“He won a lot of games in college and helped Luke Fickell at Cincinnati really change the whole culture of that program,” Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show (video link). “And I certainly think that experience, you start that many games coming in helps… And certainly there’s a lot of things we all can continue to improve, but we’ve got a lot of faith in him.”
Ridder, the second signal-caller drafted in last year’s underwhelming class, went 2-2 in his rookie year. He has three more years of being team-friendly from a financial standpoint, which helps explain the Falcons’ decision to opt for a patient approach under center. The cap dilemma Atlanta would put themselves in – not long after clearing up a number of expensive contracts, including that of Matt Ryan – remains a key reason why they have shied away from Jackson.
“The belief becomes so much more transactional,” Smith said. “It’s our job to understand the markets that’s going on, and who’s available, who’s not, do they fit… at the end of the day you’ve got to do what you think is best for your team and what you’re building and how it fits into that puzzle.”
The Falcons currently have just over $21.5MM in cap space, which ranks sixth in the NFL. That comes after the team elected to add veteran Taylor Heinicke as their backup, a role he is willing to accept. While Jackson would offer far more in the way of pedigree than that duo, Atlanta remains in line with the rest of the league in turning their attention away from him during roster-building season.
18 comments on “Falcons HC Arthur Smith Addresses Commitment To Desmond Ridder, Lamar Jackson Interest”
A lot of people call this collusion but it’s actually common sense. A lot of teams were angry at the Browns for what they did with Watson’s contract. As long as there’s a cap, most teams are not going to want to constrain themselves long term with guaranteed money. Even Mahomes didn’t get that, though he’ll likely see it as he continues to play.
If Lamar and his mommy had an iota of sense, they would have signed with Watson’s agent after his deal was signed. But those two think they can outwit 32 billionaires. Well, they haven’t & that’s obvious.
I wouldn’t even say it’s Watson’s agent as much as it was about the situation. Watson originally turned down the Browns and their idea to fully guarantee his contract is what ended up convincing him to go there. If he ended up with the Falcons or Saints, I don’t know if the guaranteed contract even happens.
Watson’s agent kept shopping until he got the right deal. He did his job. An agent makes around 3% right? $7m for him, $223m for Deshon. Would you argue with that return?
Oh I’m not arguing that his agent did a hell of a job lol
He played his hand perfectly, I just think they benefitted from the Browns being desperate as much as it was them being good negotiators (source: I’m a Browns fan)
The NFC is very weak. The NFC South is very week. Even a bad quarterback like Ridder may help them get a Wildcard. That’s all Atlanta is playing for
Except you have no idea that Ridder is a “bad” QB like you say.
I’ve seen enough of him in college against better opponents that says he’ll be no better than Marriota. You need a very good quarterback to win in the NFL.
“I’ve seen enough of him in college against better opponents that says he’ll be no better than Mariota” That first line right there is what separates bad FO’s from good ones.
So that’s your expert opinion huh? What you’ve seen of him in college?
Apparently I’m not the only person who thinks this. The dude was drafted in the 3rd round. You need an above average quarterback to win in the NFL. Ridder is average. He’s just like Marriota, a decent running quarterback and a average passing quarterback. Falcon fans are in for disappointment if they think otherwise
Atlanta needs to build up their team even if they got him they aren’t a contender and this is the kind of move you only do if you believe he will make you one. They should build up their defense more.
I don’t see a good quarterback coming available for a trade anytime soon. Guys like Fields and Wilson for the Jets but they’ll only be available if they suck. Getting Jackson may be the last chance at acquiring a experienced young quarterback who has had a good bit of success
I would rather suck for another year, develop your team more, and tank for Caleb Williams than not only pay Lamar a bunch AND give up 2 firsts.
Hard to come up with $50-60 million in cap space at the last moment. Atlanta still has $20 million free but needs about $10 million of that to sign its draft class. What GM would want the headache?
Most teams want to wait until after the draft: if I’m the colts let’s give up 2024 and 2025 first round picks instead of 2023 and 2024. If you are signing Jackson the idea is you won’t be 4 again same with Atlanta they won’t be this high again. Lamar is s set to wait as well and let the team get the best assets
But the Colts won’t give him a fully guaranteed contract…period. They also only pursue high character people; Lamar has showed he’s not.
He doesn’t need fully guaranteed. If you somehow give him 200 guaranteed with potential for 300 he takes it. Id be willing to bet on 50 a year for 4 years