Would it be too difficult to imagine a 2023 Patriots season with Lamar Jackson under center to lead the offense? Although on the surface, it seems like a fantasy trade scenario that would never happen in a million years, Bill Belichick confirmed, in his own way, that the team had inquired about getting a deal done for the quarterback during the 2023 offseason.
It had been a speculated situation once Jackson requested a trade from the Ravens during free agency last March. Baltimore seemed unwilling to sign the former MVP to a long-term contract, which essentially forced Jackson's hand by demanding a trade.
He was reportedly granted the opportunity to speak to other teams who may be interested in acquiring him, but the conversations didn't go very far. Not just because Jackson eventually re-signed with the Ravens but because of all the hoops a team would have had to jump through to make the trade happen.
Because of the Patriots' longtime connection to Jackson stemming from the 2018 draft, they were immediately thrown into the mix of teams he would be calling once he became available. At the time, Belichick didn't confirm or deny the rumors, but Robert Kraft threw a wrench in it all when he blurted out that Meek Mill told him Jackson wanted to be a Patriot at the annual owner's meeting.
Since a deal never happened (obviously), any and all discussion about him landing in New England faded. That is until this week when Belichick was asked about his interest in Jackson last offseason since his MVP-like performance this year would have been a great addition to the team.
“There’s a lot of things that go on in the offseason. Each player has his own story. But, look, in Lamar’s case … there was a lot of, I would say, there would have been a lot of moving parts on that one anyway. But you know, I’ll discuss the players that are on the team, not the ones that aren’t on it. I mean, there’s a lot of players out there that were available. They’re always available during the offseason. We talked to some of the players, some of the agents and all that. But those are all … those conversations are on a whole other level. So, stick to the guys that are here.”
Despite his lack of direct confirmation of the rumor, his long-winded answer implies there was more to the story than just a typical interest in an available player. This would be the expected time for Belichick not to answer the question, especially heading into Week 18, and stick to his usual response of wanting to stick with only talking about the players on the team.
Because he didn't do that, most assume he gave an answer within a nonanswer.
His response seemed to reaffirm another report that suggested Kraft shut him down from further pursuing Jackson, suggesting the team owner wanted to remain focused on developing Mac Jones in his third season rather than trading for an established quarterback.
It's a lot of confusing chatter we're no closer to deciphering. But hopefully, it's a bit of an indication of their intentions to bring in an upgrade at the position for the 2024 season. Whether through free agency or the draft, it would be nice to have a Jackson-like quarterback on the roster next year.