The Ravens have never wavered from their commitment to quarterback Joe Flacco. They drafted him in 2008, immediately made him their starter, made him the highest-paid player in NFL history after he won the Super Bowl MVP award, and are still committed to paying him more than $22 million a year.
But could this be the year they waver on their commitment, and draft a first-round quarterback to replace Flacco?
Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun thinks it’s possible, noting that Flacco is 33 years old, has been dealing with injuries the last three seasons, and has been a thoroughly mediocre quarterback in the past few years. Zrebiec thinks it’s more likely the Ravens would try to find a quarterback in the middle rounds this year and use their first-round pick on a player who can help them win now, but a first-round quarterback can’t be ruled out.
What can be ruled out is Flacco getting cut: His contract is structured so that he’d actually count more against the Ravens’ salary cap if they cut him this year than he would if they kept him on the roster. But next year it’s possible that he could be released, even though he’d have a fairly big dead cap number next year as well.
Given the possibility of moving on from Flacco next year, the Ravens could consider following the path the Chiefs took with the transition from Alex Smith to Patrick Mahomes: Draft a quarterback in the first round, let him develop behind the veteran for one season, and then move on a year later.
The Ravens have the 16th overall pick, and it’s too soon to say which quarterbacks will be available. But if there’s a quarterback Baltimore likes, that quarterback might be Flacco’s successor.