A common ideology today in football is that if a team is able to win the Super Bowl, then they get a five year window or grace period. Whether it’s to try and repeat, rebuild, or retool; usually that length of time is an allowable time frame. The Baltimore Ravens have reached the end of their window, as five full seasons have been played since the Ravens victory over the San Francisco 49ers. With the end of that window comes the most important question the franchise has had to deal with, on the field, in quite a while. What should be done with Joe Flacco?
Joe Flacco Conundrum Is Real For the Baltimore Ravens
In 2012, Flacco lead the team to a Super Bowl victory by putting together arguably the greatest single postseason run by a quarterback in NFL history. Baltimore went 4-0 and Flacco threw 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions, beating the likes of Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady, before beating Colin Kaepernick as well. However, since then, things have been a lot different in Baltimore. With only one playoff appearance (in 2014) coming since, many fans and pundits have been calling for the team to cut ties with Flacco. The first step in this direction happened at the 2018 NFL Draft, where the team traded back into the first round to take explosive Louisville quarterback and former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.
Lamar Jackson, the Rookie
After putting together a Heisman winning 2016 season, Jackson came back in 2017 to have a quietly more efficient season, albeit with less hype by the national media. Improving on his passing accuracy, as well as yards per attempt rushing the ball, he proved he has the talent worthy of being a first-round pick.
Jackson has drawn worthwhile comparisons to Michael Vick. Vick himself said about Jackson,
“… the only thing that came to my mind was this kid is five times better than I was when I was at Virginia Tech.”
With the Ravens deciding to take a quarterback in the first round, a decision about the future of Flacco seems to be looming.
One of the reasons that the team has been so hesitant to part ways with Flacco is the size of his contract, and the dead money associated with it. After betting on himself before the 2012 season by waiting to sign a new contract, Flacco showed he made the right decision, and signed a, at the time, league high six-year contract worth $120.6 million. After signing an extension, the Ravens currently find themselves with Flacco under contract through the 2021 season. However, they have a couple of possible outs, able to cut Flacco after 2018 with $16 million in dead money, or waiting until after 2019 to cut him with $8 million in dead money.
With Jackson being a rookie, it is unlikely he would take over the starting job right away, so regardless of how Jackson does in camp or the preseason it is highly likely that Flacco is the Ravens starting quarterback in 2018 unless something catastrophic happens to Flacco. Those who answered the question of “is Joe Flacco elite?” with a no, can be happy to know that the end is likely near.
Whether it is after the 2018 season or the 2019 season, Flacco’s run as the most successful quarterback in the history of the Ravens is coming to an end, and Lamar Jackson is waiting in the wings, ready to bring an exciting style of quarterback play that hasn’t been seen in Baltimore before.