When the Baltimore Ravens traded back into the first round of the 2018 National Football League Draft to select quarterback Lamar Jackson, it became quite clear that they were preparing to move on from starting quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco has been the best quarterback for the Ravens in their franchise history which included helping the team win Super Bowl 47. But that victory was costly for the Ravens as Flacco would be named as the Super Bowl MVP just prior to him becoming a free agent. The Ravens would end up agreeing to a new six-year deal with Flacco that was worth $120.6 million. Cap wise the deal would hamstring the Ravens as that coupled with the team losing longtime defensive leaders such as Ray Lewis to retirement would see Baltimore become a mediocre. And with Flacco being unable to put this team on his back, while he was getting older, the team’s brain trust of outgoing general manager Ozzie Newsome and team owner Steve Bisciotti began to plan for the future.
The timing for drafting Jackson was impeccable as following the end of the current season, Baltimore can walk away from Flacco’s deal unscathed financially going forward, while their quarterback of the future is beginning to show dividends.
An injury to Flacco has paved the way for Jackson to become the Ravens starting quarterback. And in six starts for Baltimore this season, Jackson’s record is 5-1. Jackson is not polished yet as a pocket passer as he is relying on his raw talent and athleticism. But Jackson is now entrenched as the Ravens starting quarterback as head coach John Harbaugh has given him the stamp of approval to be the guy in spite of the fact that Flacco is now healthy as Baltimore is in contention for a playoff spot in the AFC.
The class of quarterbacks heading into the 2019 National Football League Draft does not appear to be a strong one, and once you factor that in with a very thin group of quality veteran quarterbacks that’ll be available this spring in free agency, Flacco and his agent Joe Linta are set to come away from this smelling like a rose.
Whether it is through the draft or in free agency, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be more than likely be looking for a new starting quarterback, while the Washington Redskins could be in that mix as well with so much uncertainty around the future of Alex Smith following his gruesome leg injury earlier this season.
Flacco joining the Redskins would be very intriguing since he has already played his entire professional career on the Beltway, while Washington and Baltimore would play each other in 2020 if he was interested in showing the Ravens what they let go. Washington head coach Jay Gruden is on the cusp of completing his fifth season at the helm in the Nation’s Capitol, and the intrigue in bringing in a veteran quarterback such as Flacco who does have a Super Bowl victory on his resume, could be too much to pass up on.
As for the Bucs and Jaguars, there is a strong possibility that both of these franchises will be looking for new head coach after this Sunday’s regular season finale. And generally when a new head coach takes over, he typically searches for a new quarterback in the draft. However in the case of the Jags, this was a team that was in the AFC Championship Game last season. But a big reason why the Jaguars could not advance was due to the inability of quarterback Blake Bortles. The Jags brain trust knew this, but they still gave Bortles a contract extension last off-season. However since then Bortles has fallen out of favor in Jacksonville as he has been benched this season for veteran journeyman Cody Kessler. Bortles would count for $16 million of dead money if the Jaguars wanted to walk away from him this off-season, but why hold onto him if he is not going to help your team win games?
The Buccaneers could be looking at another quarterback being that they’ve grown tired of the off-the-field shortcomings of Jameis Winston. And although that it could be tempting for the Bucs front office to start over at the quarterback position, a veteran presence like Flacco could be the remedy that this team needs to end their 12-year playoff drought.
Flacco might not be a quarterback that’ll jump off of the stat sheet or provide a ton of sizzle, but he has been solid throughout his 11-year career in spite of the criticism that he receives more often than not. Aside from being a Super Bowl Champion, Flacco’s record as a starter is 96-67, but hit career completion percentage of 61.7% will open him up to more criticism. Flacco will never be confused with being Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, but he is a winner which will lead to him getting a solid look from a team in the upcoming season that isn’t looking for a long rebuild, but rather a veteran who is going to give them a chance to win right now.