Surprise team emerges as betting favor for Lamar Jackson, and it makes sense

Lamar Jackson, Ravens (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Lamar Jackson, Ravens (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Most teams have pulled out of the Lamar Jackson sweepstakes already. One remaining team is a betting favorite and makes a lot of sense.

The Baltimore Ravens decided to let the market set Lamar Jackson’s price for him. The early returns on that strategy appear to be solid, considering that team after team publicly announced they wouldn’t be making a run for Jackson in the hours after the franchise tag deadline.

One team that hasn’t dropped out, at least not publicly, is the Detroit Lions. That fact has them launching up sportsbooks as the betting favorite to land Jackson.

Some sportsbooks have the Lions sitting at +300 with the Bucs coming in at second-highest odds at +450, and the Colts after that at around +500.

Lions might feel like a shock, but they make a lot of sense for Lamar Jackson

The Detroit Lions put on a spectacle in the second half of the 2022 season. Though they didn’t make the playoffs, they went 8-2 to close the year after starting the year 1-7. It was an incredible post-bye-week turnaround for the Dan Campbell-led Detroit team.

They capped off the year by defeating the Green Bay Packers and officially knocking them out of playoff contention. If you aren’t going to make the postseason, knocking a hated divisional rival out of contention in your final game is a great consolation prize.

But back to their fit for Jackson… The Lions are still rocking with Jared Goff, who they picked up in the Matthew Stafford trade. Goff is fine, he made a Pro Bowl team last year with 4,438 yards and 29 touchdowns, but he’s not Lamar Jackson.

Jackson is a top quarterback in the league. He’s won an MVP, which people seem to conveniently forget for whatever reason.

They have the pieces to make a Jackson addition an almost immediate title-contending move. Here’s what my colleague, Cody Williams said yesterday:

"“So much about the Lions is ready to win, enough so that this team almost made the playoffs with Goff this past season. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson stayed in Detroit despite having heavy head coaching interest this offseason and the rest of the staff has built a winning culture. Moreover, the defense continues to improve, the offensive line is good, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams headline the receiving corps, and the running back room should be solid.”"

There’s another key reason Jackson makes so much sense for the Lions: He costs far less than he would for most teams.

Since the Ravens gave Jackson the non-exclusive franchise tag, any team that he strikes a deal with can be matched by the Ravens. But if Baltimore has no interest in paying it, they are owed two first-round picks.

That’s part of why so many teams have backed out of negotiations before they began. A contract big enough to sway Jackson and two first-round picks is massive. But for the Lions, that cost doesn’t sting as bad:

As Nolan Bianchi of the Detroit News points out, the Lions can still pick sixth this year. That’s because their first-round pick is 18th, but they also own the Rams pick (Stafford trade).

And if they give up their first-round pick next year, well, as Bianchi points out, they expect to be competitive. Giving up a 25+ overall pick might as well be a second-rounder. It’s still a pick you’d prefer to keep, but it’s the cost of winning.

The Lions could make a move like this that would otherwise be risky if they hadn’t set themselves up in a great way with the Stafford trade. It sets them apart from the field and makes them a legitimate risk to ruin Baltimore’s master plan with Jackson.

Next. Predicting every NFL team’s starting QB in 2023. dark