The Baltimore Ravens signed veteran quarterback Marc Bulger to a contract yesterday and now the time begins for deciding whose place he will take on the depth chart. Will it be the backup Troy Smith, who lobbied for a trade in the off season but the team could find no takers at their asking price to accommodate Smith's request? Or will it be little-used 3rd stringer John Beck, who knows Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron's system inside-out, but never had a chance to prove himself?
Either way, there's little chance that the Ravens brought in Bulger strictly for another arm in Training Camp. Therefore, the clock is ticking for one of the teams two reserves behind starter Joe Flacco. Starting later next month, both Smith and Beck will no longer be fighting for playing time behind Flacco, they will be fighting for their roster lives as well. Although Smith seems like the logical choice to stay, due to his versatility as a running QB, he was the one who would reportedly "crawl back to Cleveland" as an incentive for the team to trade him to his hometown team. Beck is more of a pocket passer like Bulger, so would the team want to have two of the same style of players in reserve?
Bulger was released by the St. Louis Rams, due to a major rebuilding program that saw them drafting former Oklahoma standout Sam Bradford with the first overall selection in the 2010 NFL Draft held in April. Former Ravens' QB Kyle Boller was playing in St. Louis with Bulger, but is now truly in the "Black Hole" known as the Oakland Raiders.
Bulger was injury-prone his last few years in St. Louis, but that was behind as porous an offensive line as there was in the league. Now he comes to a Super Bowl contender with an offensive line rated among the best in the NFL. As a veteran with declining skills, he could not have hoped for a better landing spot at this point in his career and hopes to be along for the ride while the team earns his that coveted ring that all players want and are willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to get one. Accepting an offer to compete for the second or even third spot on the Ravens' depth chart was probably not a difficult decision for Bulger. The difficult decision will be the Ravens now to determine who stays and who goes.