Much like the Baltimore Ravens quarterback situation down the final stretch of the season, the elite quarterback class in the AFC as a whole is banged up right now. With the 2023 Pro Bowl Games set to get underway this week, the rash of injuries at the position opened the door for Ravens’ backup signal caller Tyler Huntley, to be named to the first of his career.
As a fourth alternate, he will be replacing Buffalo Bills star quarterback Josh Allen who was named to his second this year but opted out due to injury. The other two Pro Bowl quarterbacks that were originally selected but won’t participate are Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs who will be playing in the Superbowl and Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals who also opted out due to injury.
The first group of alternates who also couldn’t participate due to injury included Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers, Tua Tangoviloa of the Miami Dolphins, and Huntley’s teammate who he replaced in the lineup for the final month of the season for the second year in the row, Lamar Jackson.
His fellow AFC alternates for this week’s games include 2021 No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars for the first of his career and Derek Carr of the Las Vegas Raiders for the fourth time in his career.
Biggest Areas of Growth
Huntley started the final five games for the Ravens and finished the Week 13 contest when Jackson got injured by leading a game-winning drive. Unlike his first stint filling in for the former unanimous league MVP, the third-year pro had much more success and showed some promising signs of improvement in his overall game compared to 2021 when he was thrust into a trial by fire with an injury-ravaged roster.
Including the game that he finished for Jackson and played the final three quarters for, the Ravens went 3-2 down the stretch of the regular season with Huntley as the starter. While the red zone offensive struggles persisted throughout the year no matter who was under center, the offense still consistently moved the ball with him under center and he made strides as a passer.
Despite having 76 fewer attempts and one fewer appearance than the year before, he managed to improve his completion percentage (67-64.9) and passer rating (77.2-76.6) as well as threw one fewer interception according to Pro Football Reference.
Huntley had the absolute best performance of his career to date both as a runner and a passer in his playoff debut as the Ravens’ starter. Outside of one horrible decision on a botched quarterback sneak and a first-quarter interception, he played an incredible outing.
The former undrafted free agent finished 17-of-29 for 226 passing yards and 2 touchdowns and added another 54 yards on 9 carries. According to NFL on CBS, his 92 passer rating on Super Wildcard Weekend was the second-highest in the AFC this postseason behind only Mahomes.
Has Huntley Priced Himself Out of Baltimore?
With all the strides he has made in his overall game coupled with the potential desperation of other teams around the league if they don’t sign or trade for a notable veteran at the position, Huntley could possibly be a sought-after commodity this offseason.
He has already established himself as one of the top backups in the league, but another team might see him as a stop-gap for a young or injured starter or perhaps even a long-term solution depending on what kind of offense they intend on running. His dual-threat ability to play from within and outside of the pocket as well as escape on scrambles and gash defenses with designed runs make him a fit for what is beginning to become the ‘modern offense’.
Huntley is slated to be a restricted free agent and the Ravens will likely place one of, if not, the highest possible tenders on him to make sure they can retain a proven capable backup that fits their offensive identity.
In the event that another team is willing to part with the draft capital necessary to acquire him, they’d be well-compensated for a player that they never spent a draft pick on in a year where they currently have just five selections in this year’s NFL Draft with none in the second or seventh round.
A couple of teams that could be interested in acquiring Huntley include the Arizona Cardinals who will likely be without their mobile franchise quarterback, Kyler Murray, to start the season after he suffered a torn ACL in December of 2022, as well as the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, and Carolina Panthers who are all expected to select a rookie quarterback in the first round of this year’s draft.