New England Patriots

New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 25: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots shakes hands with quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens after Baltimore's 37-26 win at Gillette Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

If you’ve been holding out hope for the Patriots to acquire franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson from the Baltimore Ravens, well, this news will excite you.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft spoke Monday at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix, fielding a number of questions about the Patriots pertaining to both the 2022 season and the future ahead. Could 2023 include a major change at the quarterback position? Namely, Jackson? A Patriot?

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  • Kraft reportedly told the assembled media that rapper Meek Mill, a mutual friend of sorts, texted him 3-4 days ago saying Jackson told him he wants to be a Patriot, according to multiple reports. He also said that decision would be left up to head coach Bill Belichick.

    So! In light of that … to borrow a phrase from Belichick, it would be what’s best for the team for the Patriots head coach/GM to call the necessary people on Jackson. Call the Ravens. Call Jackson. Call his mom. Call that Ken Francis guy, if he’s still lurking.

    One can imagine that Kraft would make the money work on a new deal for Jackson, if necessary. This whole drama started because Jackson wants a long-term contract and won’t play under the franchise tag. So even if the Patriots are at the top of Jackson’s list, it would be surprising if he turned around and told Belichick he’s fine with a one-year deal on the tag – which, by the way, is about $32.4 million.

  • FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens runs the ball during the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens runs the ball during the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

  • If it’s true that Jackson wants to play for the Patriots – and we are betting on a second-hand comment about a game of telephone, here – and if Kraft is willing to find whatever room in the budget that he can in order to bring him in … then it really does just come down to whether Belichick wants him.

    Would Belichick be willing to part with the draft capital (or perhaps players) that it’s going to take to be the highest bidder? Would he really want to commit $30-plus mission to a new quarterback, rather than see it through with Mac Jones and his $2 million salary?

    Not to mention, Belichick would still probably have to make sacrifices elsewhere on the roster. It’s unlikely that Kraft would simply increase the football budget by whatever amount it would take to add Jackson, which will be exorbitant. Belichick has never really operated as if he wants to acknowledge the supreme importance of any one player, let alone his quarterback.

    He’s taken the opposite approach in the 2023 off-season, making a series of incremental improvements at several spots on the roster and coaching staff in the hopes that it will add up to a greater whole. Acquiring Jackson and paying him at the top of the market on a long-term deal would be as counter to that as anything in his entire Patriots tenure.

  • Belichick may want Jackson himself, but he would still want him on his terms, as much as he can. Belichick certainly isn’t going to grovel at Jackson’s feet and offer him whatever he wants in terms of money. Imagine the playing time incentives Belichick would throw at this guy.

    But Jackson has already made it known that he wants to be traded out of Baltimore. And since he could simply threaten to hold out in order to prevent going anywhere he doesn’t want to be, he should basically be able to call his shot.

    If Jackson really wants to be a Patriot that badly, that only bodes well for Belichick and Kraft to get a favorable deal for him. Truly, that would be a gift from the football gods. As if New England hasn’t gotten enough of those over the past quarter-century.

    Don’t get your hopes up. But maybe get them up a little bit.

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    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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