Token gesture proves Carolina Panthers were never serious about Lamar Jackson

Would this have been a better way to go?

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

A reported token gesture indicates the Carolina Panthers were never serious about acquiring NFL MVP favorite Lamar Jackson this offseason.

Solving their complex riddle under center was the Carolina Panthers' primary offseason objective. While they might have accomplished this feat depending on how Bryce Young evolves in the coming years, another move would have provided the struggling organization with immediate franchise-caliber capabilities.

Lamar Jackson was the talk of the town after demanding a trade from the Baltimore Ravens. He was placed on the non-exclusive franchise tag as extension negotiations stalled. It quickly and bizarrely became apparent that there would not be the interest many envisaged to prise the dual-threat weapon away from his current employers.

Carolina Panthers made an inquiry for Lamar Jackson

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Panthers were one of two teams that made preliminary inquiries regarding Jackson. Neither came close to writing him an offer. Something that indicates this was more of a token gesture rather than anything more substantial attached.

"There weren't any other teams that made a major push to sign Jackson, and only a couple appeared to have expressed mild interest in signing the star quarterback to an offer sheet. The two teams known to have inquired about Jackson's services were the Las Vegas Raiders and Carolina Panthers, according to league sources, but neither team got overly aggressive with Jackson, and neither came close to signing him to an offer sheet that the Ravens would have had a chance to match. The unsettled situation surrounding Jackson last offseason has bled into this season, with some sources around the league still wondering why there wasn't more of an effort to sign the player now in position to win the MVP."

Adam Schefter, ESPN
Carolina Panthers
Lamar Jackson / Jessica Rapfogel-USA TODAY Sports

Many were worried about giving up draft assets, which the Panthers did anyway by going up to No. 1 overall for Young. Many were worried about the contract Jackson wanted - something that looks relatively good value given his exceptional performance levels throughout his NFL MVP-caliber campaign.

This was nothing more than a courtesy call. A call for nothing else than to prove those in power had at least explored the possibility before opting to go in a different direction. And besides, the Ravens would likely have matched almost any offer to keep the former first-round selection around in any case.

Would things have been different had the Panthers lured Jackson? Possibly. Almost definitely. The man is far too gifted to suggest anything else.

Carolina isn't the only team looking at how Jackson is playing with a sense of envy. He's dominated almost every opponent this season. He's leading the Ravens on a potential Super Bowl run. He's captivated fans with an electrifying style of play the Panthers haven't benefitted from since Cam Newton was at the peak of his powers.

Young has a bright future if the Panthers do right by him. He's flashed enough promise in extremely difficult circumstances to suggest more could be on the way with additional development and better quality around him. Whether he'll ever reach Jackson's level is debatable.

David Tepper was looking for a big splash, one suspects. General manager Scott Fitterer made no secret of his desire to build around a rookie contract. In the end, both parties came to a compromise.

The problem isn't not making a bolder bid for Jackson. It centers on Fitterer's happiness about the roster failing to produce any meaningful progress. No matter who was chosen as Carolina's next franchise quarterback, nothing would have changed that fact.