This is not particularly surprising news in light of the team’s decision to stick with rookie Lamar Jackson even though Joe Flacco is once again fully healthy, but Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (via Kevin Patra of NFL.com) reports that Flacco is not expected to be back with the Ravens in 2019. Jackson is 3-1 in his time as a starter, and he would be 4-0 if not for a difficult loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City last week.
When Baltimore traded back into the first round in this year’s draft to select Jackson, it seemed that Flacco’s time with the Ravens was coming to an end. But Jackson struggled to develop as a passer, the front office finally made a concerted effort to surround Flacco with some weapons, and the team got off to a hot start led by strong play from its long-time signal-caller. The Ravens, though, lost three in a row before Flacco succumbed to a hip injury, and given that Jackson’s presence has opened up the running game, and given that Jackson has made noticeable improvement with his arm (though he is still far from perfect), Baltimore is seemingly prepared to usher in a new era.
This offseason marks the first time the Ravens can cut ties with Flacco and save money against the salary cap, which Rapoport suggests is a possibility. However, RapSheet also says that Baltimore plans to treat Flacco with class and could orchestrate a trade to a team of his choice.
Flacco has received his fair share of criticism over the years, some of which is justified. But the fact remains that, notwithstanding his large contract — which was signed at a time when plenty of teams would have lined up to give it to him — Baltimore’s front office has largely treated the offense as an afterthought, asking Flacco to make hay with a collection of declining veterans or unproven (and generally unproductive) players. Even when the Ravens have tried to invest significant financial or draft resources into the offense, it has rarely worked out (see, e.g., Breshad Perriman).
That is not to mention the parade of uninspiring offensive coordinators the team has employed; it is worth noting that Flacco enjoyed the best regular season of his career when Gary Kubiak served as the team’s OC in 2014, and Baltimore would have qualified for the playoffs in each of the last two seasons if not for backbreaking defensive collapses at the end of the year.
All of which supports Rapoport’s point that Flacco will be a hot commodity this offseason, either as a free agent or as a trade candidate. Rapoport names the Jaguars, Redskins, Dolphins, and Raiders as potential landing spots.
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