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Bair Mail: On Lamar Jackson and Derek Carr, sticking with Desmond Ridder, Trey Lance and Marcus Mariota

We talk all quarterbacks, all the time in this Friday mailbag. 

It has been too long since we've had a mailbag. Like, way too long. I can tell by the tidal wave of good questions smacking me when I opened it, far too many to answer here. Especially when I devoted 500-plus words to the first inquiry, about a certain superstar quarterback from Charm City.


I'll try to make them more regular as we progress, though three times a week may be a stretch. Let's keep the conversation going, though, as we move through what should be a fascinating offseason with lots of intrigue.

There were tons of questions on tons of topics, but I thought I'd go with a quarterback theme here and discuss several possibilities centering around one vital position. We'll expand our purview next week, I promise. But, for now, let's home in on the signal caller.

Will Smith from Summerville, Ga.

Hi, Scott. You've said several times that Terry and Arthur might pull out all the stops if there was a player they absolutely fell in love with. Would Lamar Jackson or maybe even Derrick Carr qualify? Please elaborate on your answer. Thanks.

Bair: When the concept of falling in love with a quarterback comes into play, I think I'm normally referring to what I would do in those situations and what I would advise Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith to do in those situations (not like they would listen. Ha!)

I do think they're not afraid to go big in the right instance.

Now on to your question. Would Derek Carr or Lamar Jackson warrant going big?

It all depends on the ask.

We all know how I feel about Carr. I think he's a legit, productive starting quarterback in this league who can move a little bit. But he's 31. I wouldn't trade for him, considering the Raiders might just cut him anyway. Then it's about his market and how long of a contract he wants. I wouldn't go crazy on a long-term deal, but I'd bring him in at a reasonable price. And by reasonable, I mean $20-25 million per year with a relatively early out.

Now on to what everyone has an opinion on: Lamar Jackson. Look the Ravens are going to tag him. Lock that. If the give him a non-exclusive tag, you'll have to pay him and pay for him. That's a double whammy. Maybe two firsts? And $250 million, either mostly or completely guaranteed?

Yeah. I'd consider that. I know he has been hurt the last two seasons. He just turned 26. He's electric, a magician. And he makes you an instant playoff contender. Not sure Carr does that.

Jackson does. And he'd sell tickets and put the Falcons in primetime. I also think he's a PERFECT fit for what Arthur Smith likes to do. I also think, when you're dealing with an MVP, that takes Desmond Ridder out of the conversation. It's about grabbing a truly great player. There are factors to weigh and there are risks in the decision that could prove costly if he can't stay healthy.

I don't know, man. We're talking about Lamar Jackson here. I would do more than kick the tires. I would put it under serious consideration. That's if and only if – my geometry teacher would be so proud – the Ravens don't sign him to a long-term deal. I think that's an extremely likely scenario even with relative uncertainty surrounding his future in Baltimore. And listening to the Ravens postseason presser, it sure seems like they're gonna work to sign Jackson long-term. As they should. He's awesome.

Jimmy Mack from Chattanooga, Tenn.

The youth movement has had some encouraging results, especially on offense, but with much work still to be done, do you think it is smart for the Falcons to choose a low cost solution to the quarterback situation in 2023 with Ridder and a medium level veteran, saving draft and cap resources for team building and defer more expensive quarterback commitments until the roster is more complete and we know what we may have in Ridder?

Bair: Since we addressed the concept of going big for a quarterback, we should discuss the other (maybe more rational) option as well. That would be sticking with Desmond Ridder while finding a premium backup quarterback with a starter's experience and then loading up on defense and pass catchers in free agency and the draft.

I like Ridder and think he did a lot of good things. Sticking with him, a signal caller with three years left on a rookie deal, would allow the Falcons to splurge on a high-priced veteran along the defensive front. If they go that route, Arthur Smith must be confident in what Desmond Ridder can do moving forward. I don't think another 7-10 season will cut it. And so much rides on the quarterback. I don't think I would defer a move. You either love a QB or you don't. With QBs, it's not "can he get the job done?" It's "can he be great?"

I can't answer for Smith here. He ain't showing his cards. And, don't forget that it's not just about evaluating Ridder. It's about evaluating Ridder relative to the other options you have. If he's the best option for this team at this time, keep him as the main guy and develop him well. Ridder has all the tools you want. And he's a gamer. That's essential in contests that most always come down to the fourth quarter. I love his confidence, his moxie. I'm not against Jimmy's plan. I would only enact it, however, after I did my due diligence on every quarterback available.

We're at that point in the year as Falcons fans when there is nothing to do but come up with random "what ifs". In that spirit, with the recent ascension of Brock Purdy, should the Falcons pick up the phone to inquiry as to whether or not the 49ers might be interested in shopping Trey Lance?

Tarik N. from Knoxville, Tenn.

We're at that point in the year as Falcons fans when there is nothing to do but come up with random "what ifs". In that spirit, with the recent ascension of Brock Purdy, should the Falcons pick up the phone to inquiry as to whether or not the 49ers might be interested in shopping Trey Lance?

Bair: Interesting question, Tarik. Trey Lance is a real talent. Cannon arm. Quick legs. Tough. I like him a great deal, even coming off on an injury. I still can't see the 49ers trading him, considering how much they traded to get him. That would be admitting a huge mistake.

There's also no lock that the Purdy's run will continue. Can't assume that heading into next year. That's why I'd be pretty surprised if they move on from such a young talent. I do think he'd thrive working under Smith. I'm just not sure if he'll get that chance.

Mike Whitmore from The Villages, Fla.

So now what's going to happen to Mariota?

Bair: Marcus Mariota is under contract for another year, due a $9 million salary with a $3 million roster bonus if he's on the roster on the third day of the league year, per Can't imagine the Falcons paying that, under any circumstances. They can save $12 million in cap space by moving on from him, which seems likely at this stage. Smith and Fontenot said nothing has been decided, but I can't imagine he would be on the roster long enough for the Falcons to pay that roster bonus.

I believe they'll have Ridder and another quarterback (or two) on the roster in 2023.

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