Joe Flacco’s time with the Baltimore Ravens is likely coming to an end. Flacco’s week nine hip injury against the Steelers brought the Lamar Jackson era to start sooner than expected. Jackson, who has been more damaging to defenses on the ground than through the air, led the Ravens to a 6-1 finish to close out the year and a berth in the AFC playoffs.
Flacco, who was the Ravens starting QB from week one in his rookie season, has led the Ravens to three AFC Championship games throughout his 11-year career. The Ravens bested the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII with Flacco under center, and Flacco won Super Bowl MVP honors.
There will surely be a market for Flacco’s services this offseason. The Ravens will have a financial incentive to move on from who would be an extremely pricey backup QB. Flacco’s contract is worth $18.5 million in 2019, $20.25 million in 2020, and $24.25 million in 2021. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the “the Ravens have already absorbed Flacco’s guaranteed money.” They could either cut him or trade him to another team to save approximately $10 million in cap space.
According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, the Ravens are expected to make Flacco a free agent come the offseason. The other possibility is trading Flacco to a “team of his choice,” according to Rapoport.
Where could Joe Flacco play in 2019?
The Denver Broncos seem to make a lot of sense for Flacco. Case Keenum’s tenure in Denver didn’t get off to a great start in 2018. Keenum has one year left on his contract. He passed for nearly 4,000 yards and 18 touchdowns, but he also threw 15 interceptions. The Broncos finished the year 6-10, dropping their final four games of the season to finish third in the AFC West.
Former Ravens OC Gary Kubiak has a job in John Elway’s front office. So there’s a connection. The Broncos are not far off from being a major threat in the AFC. The question is: Will Elway roll the dice on another veteran QB whose best years are behind him? It worked with Peyton Manning, but Flacco isn’t Manning.
The Redskins already have an aging veteran QB on their roster in Alex Smith. But Smith may miss all of next year after suffering a gruesome spiral fracture of his tibia and fibula. The problem here is that Smith is a $20 million cap hit next season, and he’s under contract at least through 2020. Will the Redskins want to invest a ton of money in Flacco with Smith on the roster? Odds Shark gives the Redskins the best odds for Flacco’s services in 2019, so some seem to think so.
The Blake Bortles contract extension looks bad for the Jaguars now. Perhaps it was bad even when the ink wasn’t yet dry. But after benching the embattled QB for Cody Kessler, the Jaguars look to be in the market for a new QB. The Jaguars, one-year removed from winning the AFC South, finished the year 5-11. Releasing Bortles before June 1 would bring on a $16.5 million cap hit, which would make signing Flacco a challenge.
Still, the Jaguars seem like a good match for both Flacco. The Jaguars, however, may try and go in another direction by drafting a QB of the future such as Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins, should he declare for the draft as expected.
Truth be told, it’s hard to say that Flacco would be an upgrade over Derek Carr. But the new Jon Gruden era tells us that anything is possible. Gruden traded away his best defensive player in Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. It now looks like the Raiders most definitely lost both of those trades. Gruden’s approach to assembling a contender in Oakland hasn’t made much sense so far, so moving on from Carr to Flacco wouldn’t exactly be surprising.