Lamar Jackson

John Harbaugh: “Joe’s Going To Have A Market”

It sounds like Joe Flacco‘s tenure with Baltimore may be coming to an end, but head coach John Harbaugh is still a big fan of his long-time quarterback. Following today’s season-ending loss to the Chargers, Harbaugh said the veteran quarterback should have plenty of suitors during the offseason.

“Joe Flacco is going to play really well in this league. Joe can still play — I think we saw that the first half of the season,” Harbaugh said (via Cindy Boren of the Washington Post). “Joe’s going to have a market. There’s going to be a lot of teams that are going to want Joe because they understand that. I’ll be in Joe’s corner wherever he’s at. He’s special. Joe Flacco is a great talent; he’s an even better person. He’s the best QB in the history of the Ravens without question…He’s going to do just fine.”

Harbaugh all but said that Flacco won’t be in Baltimore next season, although this isn’t much of a surprise. It was clear that the veteran’s tenure with the organization was coming to an end when they decided to stick with rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson following Flacco’s return from a hip injury.

A report from mid-December indicated that the organization would ultimately either cut or trade the 33-year-old. This offseason marks the first time the Ravens can cut ties with Flacco and save money against the salary cap, although reports have indicated that the front office could help move the veteran to a franchise of his choice.

Flacco was still more-than-serviceable in his nine games this season. The veteran signal-caller completed 61.2-percent of his passes for 2,465 yards, 12 touchdowns, and six interceptions. Jackson struggled during today’s loss, and Harbaugh admitted that they considered inserting Flacco into the lineup. Ultimately, the veteran didn’t see the field for what will likely be his final game with the franchise.

If this is indeed the end of Flacco’s tenure in Baltimore, the veteran will finish his stint sitting in first for the majority of the team’s all-time passing stats. The 2008 first-round pick even ranks 15th in franchise history in rushing yards, which only accentuates his all-time value to the franchise.

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Ravens Expected To Cut Or Trade Joe Flacco In 2019

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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Ravens To Start Lamar Jackson On Sunday

Joe Flacco is healthy, but he’s not getting his old job back. On Wednesday, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh confirmed that Jackson will start for a fifth consecutive game when the Ravens take on the Buccaneers.

Jackson took the reins when Flacco was diagnosed with a slight tear in his hip. Since then, the Ravens have gone 3-1 in Jackson’s starts and nearly made it 4-0 before the Chiefs topped them in overtime on Sunday. The Ravens have been saying all the right things about Flacco so far, but keeping him on the bench when he’s fully healthy could signal the beginning of the end for him in Baltimore.

The Ravens can cut Flacco after the season and save some money against the cap, though they would also have a dead money hit to contend with. Many expect that Baltimore will go that route, assuming Jackson continues to do enough to prove that he is fully ready for the starting gig moving forward. The Ravens may also be able to trade the veteran signal-caller to a QB-needy team.

Jackson, 21, has been a bit inconsistent in his four starts, but they apparently feel that he gives them the best chance to win moving forward. The Ravens currently have a 55% change of reaching the postseason, according to FiveThirtyEight, and they’re virtually guaranteed a spot in the playoffs if they win out.

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Injury Updates: Ekeler, Roethlisberger, Jackson, Reed

While Week 14 wasn’t nearly as bad as recent weeks in terms of carnage, there were still some significant injuries to big players today. The Chargers are already dealing with the loss of running back Melvin Gordon to an MCL injury, and may now be without his backfield mate Austin Ekeler for a while. Ekeler aggravated the stingers he’s been dealing with in the team’s win over the Bengals today, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Chargers play in Kansas City this Thursday night in a huge game for playoff seeding, and Schefter writes that “the short week will make it tough” for Ekeler to play.

Here are more injury updates from around the league:

  • Ben Roethlisberger missed most of the second half in the Steelers‘ loss to the Raiders with a rib injury, but is expected to be fine and play next week against the Patriots, Schefter writes in a separate tweet. Joshua Dobbs filled in for Roethlisberger today, and Big Ben’s absence ended up costing the team the game as they scored zero points with Dobbs under center. The Steelers are just 7-6-1 and in danger of falling out of the playoffs with a very tough upcoming schedule, so they’ll need Roethlisberger at full strength.
  • In the same tweet, Schefter notes that X-Rays on Lamar Jackson‘s ankle came back negative and that he’s expected to play next week against the Buccaneers. Jackson missed the final plays of the Ravens’ thrilling overtime loss to the Chiefs today, and Robert Griffin III filled in. If Jackson’s ankle ends up becoming an issue, it would further complicate the murky situation between him and Joe Flacco.
  • The Redskins have had some of the worst injury luck in the league, and got even more bad news today. Tight end Jordan Reed sprained his foot, Schefter notes, and will presumably miss some time. Reed has been plagued by injuries the past few years, but had been able to stay healthy so far this year. He’s dealt with foot injuries in the past, so this could very well wind up ending his season. The Redskins are looking to finish strong with new quarterback Josh Johnson, and this will make things significantly more difficult for the offense.

Latest On John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco both joined the team in 2008, and it seems as though their futures in Baltimore have been entwined ever since. We heard not that long ago that Harbaugh was on the hot seat, but now the Ravens are riding a three-game winning streak and have put themselves squarely back in the playoff hunt (even if they lose to the Chiefs today). And, if the team qualifies for the postseason, one would think that Harbaugh, at least, would be returning to Baltimore in 2019.

But that may not be the case. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that Harbaugh is high atop the wish list for teams that will be looking for a new HC next year, and if the Ravens do want to move on, they could use that to their advantage. They could negotiate some sort of player/draft compensation with the team that wants Harbaugh, and once that compensation is agreed upon, the new team would then be free to negotiate a contract with Harbaugh directly. Of course, if Baltimore goes on a successful playoff run, that could complicate matters, and it is certainly possible that such a scenario would compel the Ravens to keep Harbaugh for themselves,

Flacco, meanwhile, is inactive for the fourth straight week, per Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported this morning (via Twitter) that Flacco has looked good in practice this week and would serve as Lamar Jackson‘s backup this afternoon, and Kansas City head coach Andy Reid even said he expected Baltimore to deploy both Jackson and Flacco. However, the Ravens will now be able to postpone the Jackson vs. Flacco decision for at least one more week.

We knew that Flacco was battling a hip injury, and Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that Flacco has been dealing with a slight tear in his hip (video link). Flacco apparently believes he is healthy enough to start, but Rapoport would not be surprised if Baltimore continues to start Jackson until the rookie falters (if he falters). Indeed, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports tweets that, even if Flacco were active today, Jackson would be the guy. Glazer said simply, “Jackson is their QB.”

The Ravens can cut Flacco after the season and save some money against the cap, though they would also have a dead money hit to contend with. Many expect that Baltimore will go that route, assuming Jackson continues to do enough to prove that he is fully ready for the starting gig moving forward. Of course, the Ravens could also trade Flacco to a team in search of a veteran signal-caller.

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AFC Notes: Jets, Browns, Harris, Ravens

Mike McCarthy may well have options going into this coming hiring period, but the Jets might not be a great fit. The status of GM Mike Maccagnan will likely be a deterrent for a coach with other options — in the likely event Todd Bowles is fired soon — multiple NFL executives told Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv. The New York GM has just one more season remaining on his deal and is not expected to follow Bowles out the door. A lame-duck decision-maker could spook McCarthy. With former Packers execs John Dorsey, Alonzo Highsmith and Eliot Wolf in Cleveland, many people around the league believe McCarthy will end up with the Browns, Vacchiano notes. The Browns also have a young quarterback and are projected to possess more than $86MM in cap space. While that’s not on the Jets’ level ($106MM-plus), Vacchiano adds McCarthy is known as being a bit sensitive to criticism. That might be an issue in jumping from the league’s smallest market to its biggest.

Here’s more from the Jets and the latest from the AFC:

  • Josh McCown received another start for the Jets on Sunday, doing so despite Sam Darnold being at or close to 100 percent. The rookie quarterback lobbied to play against the Titans during warmups, Albert Breer of SI.com notes, but Bowles stuck with McCown. Bowles would not commit to Darnold starting against the Bills in Week 14, but Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports Darnold showed he was healthy in practice and will likely return Sunday.
  • On the subject of possible quarterback switches, the Ravens may be able to put off their decision for another week. Joe Flacco was not moving too well this week, walking with a noticeable limp, Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com tweets. While the Ravens could be forced into a choice of benching Lamar Jackson (3-0 as a starter) and returning to Flacco for a pivotal game in Kansas City, this call might be tabled. The possibility of Flacco returning as the starter at some point this month is not out of the question, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, but Jackson may see more work off the bench than he previously did when Flacco was healthy. The difficult prospect of preparing for the quarterbacks’ disparate skill sets intrigues John Harbaugh, per Rapoport, so the Ravens may keep it quiet if they do intend to pivot back to Flacco.
  • Although the Broncos improved to 6-6 Sunday, it came at a cost. Denver lost one of its top players in Chris Harris to a fractured fibula. However, the All-Pro cornerback is not going to be placed on IR and has a goal of returning before a potential playoff game. The eighth-year defender wants to return by Week 17, when the Broncos play the Chargers in what could be a key game — if Denver wins out and receives help — for Vance Joseph‘s team. “I always heal fast,” Harris told Aric DiLalla of DenverBroncos.com.“I’ve got the right people around me to help me get back fast and I’ll work night and day to get back. My goal is three weeks, but they said four. My goal is three weeks because I want to play against [the Chargers].” Harris’ other notable injury (a torn ACL) came against the Chargers in a 2013 divisional playoff game, but the corner returned by Week 1 in 2014.
  • By intercepting three passes, Harris already cashed in $200K of the incentive package he agreed to in the offseason. But another key financial bump is tied to playing time. Despite standing to miss perhaps the rest of the regular season, Harris can still earn an additional $300K if his 736 snaps end up being 65 percent of Denver’s season total, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic notes (subscription required), adding that scenario is in play.

Ravens To Start Lamar Jackson In Week 13

A potential Joe Flacco-or-Lamar Jackson decision may not be here yet, with the longtime Ravens starting quarterback not yet cleared. But his rookie backup will have another opportunity to stake his claim for the job.

Jackson will start Sunday against the Falcons, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Flacco has not been cleared, but that could change this week. If he’s cleared and Jackson remains in place as the starter, it could signal an era change in Baltimore.

Flacco’s been the Ravens’ starter since being chosen in the 2008 first round. Coming into this season, he’d missed just six games — all in 2015 — and had the Ravens in playoff contention this year prior to going down with a hip injury. But against a tough part of their schedule, the Flacco-led Ravens lost three straight. Under Jackson, against the Bengals and Raiders, the Ravens have won their past two games and are in a stronger position for a postseason spot.

Jackson has a long way to go as a passer, but he’s helped the Baltimore ground game immensely. The Ravens rushed for 267 yards against the Bengals and 242 against the Raiders. They hadn’t exceeded 123 in any of their first nine contests. Jackson amassed a Ravens-record 117 yards on the ground in Week 11 and gained 71 rushing yards Sunday.

The Ravens have not seen Flacco on their practice field since he suffered the hip injury, and The Athletic’s Jeff Zreibec notes (via Twitter) it will take a full week of practice before the Ravens consider turning back to Flacco. John Harbaugh stopped short of indicating Flacco would get his job back when he was healthy again.

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John Harbaugh Won’t Commit To Joe Flacco As Starter

Just when the Ravens’ season was on the line and they were on the verge of being eliminated from the playoff race, they responded with two straight wins. With Joe Flacco sidelined with a hip injury, rookie Lamar Jackson slid in as the starter and beat the Bengals and Raiders in his first two career starts. Now Ravens coach John Harbaugh isn’t ready to commit to Flacco getting his job back when he’s healthy, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com.

Whether the decision has been made or not, it’s not important for anybody to know but us. If I decide to do it one way or another, I don’t want our opponent to know. So, I’m probably not going to announce it for obvious reasons, just to make it tough for our opponent” Harbaugh was quote as saying.

If Harbaugh was going to give Flacco the job back, he probably would’ve continued to say as much, and the fact that he was so non-committal would seem to indicate he’d prefer to stick with Jackson. It would be pretty hard for Harbaugh to take it away from Jackson now, so we should probably tentatively expect to continue to see Jackson make starts.

Harbaugh isn’t in any position to play for the future, so whatever decision he makes will be the one he feels like gives the team the best chance to win. Harbaugh is on an extremely hot seat, and it was reported earlier today that Ravens players were expecting him to be fired if the team didn’t make the playoffs. Jackson has flashed electrifying talent, but has also struggled as a passer at time. They’ve won both his starts, but they’ve come against two of the worst defenses in the league. It’s possible the team will go back to Flacco as they prepare to play a much tougher slate of defenses, but it’s also looking highly possible that we’ve seen the end of the Joe Flacco-era in Baltimore.

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Ravens Notes: Flacco, Suggs, Harbaugh

Quarterback Joe Flacco is expected to return to practice on Tuesday, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Of course, first-round rookie Lamar Jackson is getting his second consecutive start today as Flacco deals with a hip injury, and if Jackson can lead Baltimore to a win over Oakland this afternoon, La Canfora suggests that he could keep the starting job even if Flacco proves that he is healthy.

Now for more out of Charm City:

  • Ageless linebacker Terrell Suggs indicated back in May that 2018 would not be his last season in the league, but it is his last season under contract with the Ravens. La Canfora confirms that Suggs fully intends to continue playing, but given that the Ravens are transitioning to a new GM and are potentially parting ways with fellow stalwarts Flacco and John Harbaugh at the end of the season, it seems they will let Suggs test the market for the first time in his career. Suggs is still playing at a fairly high level and has adamantly asserted that he wants to finish his career in Baltimore, and that is certainly not out of the question in light of his continued strong performance. But other teams will finally get a crack at him first.
  • Speaking of Harbaugh, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says that the 11th-year head coach would be one of the top three candidates for the expected head coaching vacancy at USC (Twitter link). It is unclear if the Trojans — who are also interested in Penn State coach James Franklin and free agent Jack Del Rio — would wait for Harbaugh to finish his season, but if so, he could join brother Jim Harbaugh in the collegiate ranks.
  • We have heard that the Ravens and John Harbaugh are headed for a parting of the ways at the end of the season, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk says that Baltimore players expect Harbaugh to be gone unless the team qualifies for the playoffs. Of course, as Florio notes, Harbaugh will immediately garner plenty of interest from other NFL clubs in need of a head coach, and, as noted above, perhaps at least one blue blood college team.
  • The Ravens activated CB Maurice Canady from IR yesterday and cut offensive lineman Hroniss Grasu in a corresponding move.

Ravens To Start Lamar Jackson Vs. Raiders

Quarterback Lamar Jackson will make his second career start when the Ravens face the Raiders on Sunday, coach John Harbaugh announced. Joe Flacco hasn’t practiced since injuring his hip against the Steelers on Nov. 4 and was unable to get clearance this week. 

Jackson’s first start was a success as the Ravens beat the Bengals 24-21. The Louisville product completed 13-of-19 throws for 150 yards and did serious damage on the ground with 119 yards off of 26 attempts. Jackson could have a field day against Oakland’s depleted front seven and further improve his case to be the team’s QB going forward.

Flacco, the Ravens’ starter for the past eleven seasons, could heal up in time for the Week 13 game against the Falcons, but the position could be filled by then. The rise of Jackson could lead to a difficult offseason decision for the club as Flacco is set to carry a $26.5MM cap number in 2019. The Ravens can save $10.5MM by releasing him, but they’ll be left on the hook for a whopping $16MM.

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