How much could the Carolina Panthers afford to offer Lamar Jackson?

(Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports) Lamar Jackson
(Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports) Lamar Jackson /

After fresh speculation about Lamar Jackson and his pending contract status, what could the Carolina Panthers offer the former NFL MVP quarterback?

While all signs point to the Carolina Panthers making a daring raid up the 2023 NFL Draft order for their franchise quarterback, there could be another bold avenue to pursue. Specifically, the ongoing situation between Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens.

Both sides have yet to agree on a lucrative contract extension as the franchise tag deadline looms near. Jackson is reportedly seeking around $250 million guaranteed, which is a similar figure to what the Cleveland Browns gave Deshaun Watson last spring despite the obvious cloud hanging over the signal-caller.

Baltimore has been reluctant to give Jackson that much. Negotiating with the player and not representation has been difficult according to widespread revelations, so this saga could be coming to a head in the not-too-distant future.

Carolina Panthers could get the chance to negotiate with Lamar Jackson

ESPN’s respected insider Jeremy Fowler recently stated that some figures around the league believe that the Ravens will use the non-exclusive tag on Jackson. This comes at a lower salary-cap figure in 2023 but allows the former NFL MVP to speak with other teams in the hope they’ll give him what he’s looking for.

"“Baltimore has had a challenging time negotiating with Jackson, so this allows him to shop his own services and bring an offer to the Ravens, taking out the guesswork and the haggling over guaranteed money. The tag should also fall somewhere around $32 million, far less than the projected $45 million for the exclusive franchise tag. And transferring the work to Jackson and other teams helps Baltimore maintain neutrality in any potential breakup.”"

This would likely come with a plethora of teams throwing their hat in the ring. Carolina has been in quarterback purgatory for a long time, which could see them shoot their shot where Jackson is concerned.

Any team that Jackson signs with will cough up two first-round selections as part of the non-exclusive tag stipulations. However, it’s a small price to pay for someone so talented and certainly much less than Baltimore would demand in typical negotiations.

Whether the Panthers could afford this is another matter. Things are tight on their cap right now, so some significant sacrifices need to be made to stand any chance of landing Jackson in this scenario.

Allowing Jackson to play on the tag before his contract kicks in next season is an option. One that the Panthers could afford with $142.31 million available and 21 players under contract currently.

This is the big quarterback splash David Tepper’s been craving since buying the Panthers. However, it’s also worth remembering that he drew the line when Watson’s contract demands came up in discussions, so whether it’s a situation that would occur again with Jackson cannot be dismissed entirely.

Players of Jackson’s caliber don’t become available too often. This is an electrifying dual-threat weapon who remains among the league’s best at the position – something the Panthers haven’t benefitted from since Cam Newton was in his prime.

It would still be a major bombshell. But general manager Scott Fitterer is in on every deal, so expect Carolina to take a long look at Jackson if he does get the non-exclusive franchise tag from the Ravens.

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