Why Patriots reportedly are out on Lamar Jackson sweepstakes


Despite Meek Mill's best efforts, it sounds like Lamar Jackson isn't coming to New England this offseason.

The Patriots "are not expected to pursue signing or trading for" the Baltimore Ravens quarterback, the Boston Sports Journal's Greg Bedard reported Tuesday, citing three league sources "close to the situation." The Athletic's Jeff Howe also cited a league source Wednesday who insisted New England landing Jackson is "just not going to happen."

The Ravens placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson this offseason, meaning a team would have to give up two first-round picks if it signs the dynamic QB away from Baltimore. Teams also could try to acquire Jackson via trade after he requested a trade earlier this month.

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Many thought the Patriots could be one of those teams, especially after team owner Robert Kraft said this week that rapper Meek Mill texted him saying Jackson wanted to come to New England. Several former Patriots -- most recently Devin McCourty -- also have publicly implored the team to make a run at the 2019 NFL MVP.

But it appears New England wants to give third-year quarterback Mac Jones another opportunity to prove his worth after floundering under first-time offensive play-caller Matt Patricia in 2022.

With veteran offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien calling the shots in 2023, "the belief internally is that Jones will rise to the occasion this year," Bedard reported. The Patriots are "actively trying to add more weapons around Jones" this offseason, per Bedard, and are focused on "build(ing) up the talent around Jones, similar to what the Eagles and Dolphins did with their young QBs on rookie contracts."

"Kraft is involved in that effort and is fully behind that direction," Bedard reported.

Building around Jones is the more financially viable option; the 2021 first-round pick carries just a $ 4.25 million cap hit this season compared to Jackson's $ 32.4 million salary. New England already has added wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, tight end Mike Gesicki and running back James Robinson in free agency, and passing on Jackson could allow the team to acquire either DeAndre Hopkins or Jerry Jeudy via trade. (Bedard reports the Patriots are still involved in talks around both wide receivers.)

This strategy puts plenty of pressure on Jones to deliver, however. The Patriots ranked 26th in offensive yards per game last season, so even with a more experienced offensive coordinator and better offensive weapons, Jones will need to prove he's more the promising field general who led New England to the playoffs as a rookie than the erratic, often temperamental QB we saw last season.

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