After drafting Lamar Jackson in the first round, are Flacco’s days in Baltimore numbered?
When the Baltimore Ravens drafted Joe Flacco in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft, they envisioned securing their franchise quarterback. Ten years and one Super Bowl victory later, the Ravens got their wish.
While Flacco hasn’t been one of the best quarterbacks in the league over that stretch, he has managed to lead them to the playoffs six times over his career, including three AFC Championship game appearances and, of course, the Super Bowl win over the San Francisco 49ers.
During that Super Bowl run, Flacco put together what was one of the most impressive stretches by a quarterback in NFL playoff history. He finished the 2012-13 playoffs with 11 touchdowns, no interceptions, 1140 passing yards, and a passer rating of 117.2.
Flacco’s performance during these playoffs earned him a six-year, 120.6 million dollar contract extension, which was the largest deal in NFL history up to that point in time. Unfortunately for Flacco and the Ravens, they have only been back to the postseason once since this run.
The struggles for Flacco in recent years are very well documented. During the 2015 season, Flacco had just 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 10 games before having a season-ending ACL injury. Upon his return, Flacco put together back-to-back mediocre seasons in 2016 and 2017, when he led the Ravens to a 17-15 record and had a 38-28 TD/INT ratio.
The Ravens finally had enough, which led them to draft Louisville’s Lamar Jackson with the last pick in the first round of the NFL draft. Jackson is expected to relieve Flacco of his starting position in the coming years, but with Flacco’s newest three-year extension running through 2021, how should the Ravens go about doing this?
For the upcoming season they are stuck with Flacco. No one is going to trade for his contract given the way he has played the past few seasons, which leaves them with no other options but to pay him the $12 million in base salary.
If they wanted to get rid of him after this season, they could cut him lowering his cap hit from 26.5 million down to 16 million. This is still a very difficult decision for Baltimore because if they did this, they would also face an eight million dollar cap hit in 2020.
There is no simple solution to their Joe Flacco problem because of the way his contract is structured, but cutting him after this year would make the most sense and give the Ravens the most possible cap flexibility going forward.
Additionally, this will give the Ravens the opportunity to let Jackson sit and learn if they wanted to do so. It is not very often that quarterbacks taken in the first round redshirt for their entire first season without any starts. In fact, the last to do so was Aaron Rodgers in 2005.
This is likely the Ravens’ best option, especially considering how many people believe Jackson needs that time on the bench to develop. Jackson has elite athleticism but needs time to refine his accuracy and fundamentals.
Jackson’s accuracy issues were a clear problem during his college career, as he ranked as the number 25 quarterback in the country in adjusted completion percentage, according to Pro Football Focus. Jackson would benefit immensely if he was able to sit and learn for a year.
Baltimore should handle this situation much like the Kansas City Chiefs did with Patrick Mahomes last year, by allowing Jackson to redshirt for the upcoming season before allowing him to take over as their starter next year.
It’s just a matter of time until Flacco’s Baltimore career is officially over.
Edited by Jazmyn Brown.
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