Lamar Jackson’s contract saga continues to drag on, so the Baltimore Ravens would be wise to add some insurance at football’s most important position from the 2023 NFL draft. Insurance can arrive in the form of national championship-winning quarterback Stetson Bennett, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.
Zrebiec believes the Ravens still need cover at quarterback after failing to acquire an alternative to Tyler Huntley and Anthony Brown during free agency, “They hoped to land a veteran stand-in like Jacoby Brissett or Baker Mayfield, but came up empty. There’s not much left on the veteran backup quarterback carousel, unless you want in on the Carson Wentz experience. So coming out of the draft with a quarterback makes plenty of sense and what better choice than Bennett, who won two national championships with Monken as his play-caller?”
Reuniting Bennett with offensive coordinator Todd Monken would be a low-key, low-cost way for the Ravens to create a safeguard in case Jackson holds out or is dealt before the start of the season.
Neither of the latter scenarios appears likely, with the best-case outcome for the Ravens still being to agree a new long-term deal with Jackson. Yet, drafting Bennett in the later rounds, on the heels of Huntley signing his restricted tender, could give Ravens’ general manager Eric DeCosta some more leverage in negotiations with Jackson.
Todd Monken Would Welcome Former Quarterback
Monken knows how to win games with Bennett under center. The two helped the Georgia Bulldogs win back-to-back national championships.
Bennett wasn’t always the most polished or physically dominant QB1, but he had the knack for winning, proved by his final regular-season statistics, per NFL Rookie Watch.
No. 13 also tended to play his best football in the biggest games. Like when he dominated Ohio State in the Peach Bowl, accounting for a quartet of touchdowns against the Buckeyes, per PFF College.
That performance earned the Bulldogs the right to play for a second-straight national title. Bennett again didn’t disappoint, rushing for two touchdowns and throwing four more scores during a 65-7 win over TCU.
The numbers are impressive, but there are concerns about Bennett’s temperament, according to an unnamed coordinator from the AFC. This play-caller told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero how Bennett exhibits “bad body language. He has a super-high opinion of himself. He’s talented, but is he going to be one of those dudes that sits behind just thinking he’s better than everyone else?”
Confidence is never a bad thing for any quarterback, but the AFC-based coordinator isn’t alone in expressing doubts about Bennett’s attitude and conduct. His thoughts are echoed by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who reported Bennett “did not receive universally high marks on combine interviews.”
Fowler’s report is similar to what Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders noted about “what little chatter coming out of the NFL about him (Bennett) has been negative.” Yet, Tanier also wrote, “on the flip side, I am certain he’d be getting third-round buzz if he were an inch taller or a year younger.”
There are always going to be concerns about using a high-round draft pick to select a signal-caller who stands just 5-foot-11, weights a mere 190 pounds and is already 25. The bigger worry will be about Bennett’s actions off the field, but Monken has already proved he can keep the player focused enough to deliver.
That history is surely worth a late pick for a dual-threat playmaker. Bennett would make a natural backup and possible successor for Jackson, although keeping the latter for the long haul should remain the priority.
Ravens Still Need Lamar Jackson Deal
It’s dragged on and on, but there’s still no end in sight to the standoff between Jackson and the Ravens. The franchise applied the non-exclusive franchise tag, but the player wants a fully-guaranteed, long-term contract.
Staying on the tag will leave the Ravens vulnerable to losing Jackson if another team can agree a deal and is prepared to give up two first-round draft picks. A sign-then-trade is another possibility, although surely a slim one, even if the San Francisco 49ers are touted as a potential suitor who should ask the Ravens about a deal for Jackson.
Nobody’s budging, which is why the Ravens will be happy Huntley is at least set to return and is ready “to throw with teammates,” per Pelissero.
Huntley is a popular player, but he’s also just 3-5 as a starter, according to StatMuse. The Ravens need a more consistent winner on the depth chart whether Jackson stays or goes, and Bennett fits the bill.