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Robert Griffin III, J.J. Watt suggest collusion by NFL teams in disinterest for Lamar Jackson: ‘Don’t smell right’

The Ravens made a surprising announcement on Tuesday when they revealed they had placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Lamar Jackson.

The tender gave Jackson permission to negotiate an offer sheet with any NFL team. The Ravens would then have a chance to either match it or let Jackson walk and receive two first-round picks from Jackson’s new team.

However, it quickly became apparent that teams were not interested in signing Jackson.

In fact, it was a little too apparent.

IYER: Top landing spots for Lamar Jackson after franchise tag placed on veteran QB

The rumors of quarterback-needy teams having no interest in Jackson began when ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported that the Falcons would not pursue Jackson.

Atlanta had been expected to be among the top suitors for Jackson. However, Russini’s report — coupled with a story published on the Falcons’ official website — seemed to indicate that the team was comfortable sitting out the Jackson sweepstakes.

From there, reports indicated that the Dolphins weren’t interested in Jackson.

Neither were the Panthers.

How about the Raiders or Commanders? Not them either.

By 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday night, at least five teams were already reportedly out of the running to acquire Jackson. That didn’t sit right with NFL fans.

MORE: Ravens’ options with Jackson after placing non-exclusive tag on QB

Plenty of former NFL players — including Robert Griffin III — media analysts and fans alike weighed in on the apparent lack of interest in Jackson. Many believed that it was a surefire sign of collusion between the NFL teams as they looked to ensure no club gave Jackson a fully guaranteed contract.

The NFL has only seen one player get a fully guaranteed contract of more than $200 million in its history. That was given to Deshaun Watson by the Browns during the 2022 offseason.

MORE: Top QBs available in 2023 NFL free agency

Numerous reports indicated that NFL teams were not happy about the Browns’ decision to give Watson a guaranteed contract. Part of that stemmed from the accusations of sexual assault and misconduct made against Watson in 23 civil lawsuits.

But that consternation was also related to how Watson’s deal would reset the NFL’s quarterback market and potentially make it the new norm for players to get massive, guaranteed megadeals.

As such, it’s easy to see why many are crying collusion. But as former Steelers safety and ESPN talent. Ryan Clark pointed out, this isn’t exactly new for the NFL — even if it has never been proven.

“If you don’t think that collusion is a part of this league… then you’re absolutely out of your mind,” Clark said, per Fox Sports’ Henry McKenna.

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