Joe Flacco will be the Baltimore Ravens starting quarterback in 2019, period. Love him, hate him or indifferent, the ten year veteran and former Super Bowl MVP will be under center on Week 1, barring injury. An ill advised extension means that jettisoning Flacco would cost the Ravens a net negative of $4 million in salary cap space due to $28.8 million in dead money remaining on his contract.
The backup quarterback job is a different story. The Ryan Mallett expereiment has seemingly run its course. Mallett is an impending unrestricted free agent. Judging by his preseason performance and the coaching staff’s unwillingness to play him while Flacco was struggling with a back injury early in the season, he does not appear to be part of their future plans.
Five options to fill the backup quarterback position in 2018:
- Draft Flacco’s successor in the early rounds
As many as six quarterbacks could be drafted within the first 50 picks of the 2018 NFL draft. A strong class without a doubt. Still, using one of their early selections on a backup would be a tough pill to swallow for a team that wants to contend every year and desperately needs an infusion of playmaking receivers. Furthermore, a franchise obsessed with continuity would probably keep Flacco around in 2019 even if he has a terrible season, as his release next offseason would result in only $2.5 million of cap savings.
- Draft a backup level quarterback on Day 3
The Ravens may be leaning in this direction after adding quarterbacks coach James Urban to the staff. Several promising signal callers elected to return to school, but there should still be some intriguing options to consider. Luke Falk of Washington State is projected as a 3rd or 4th round pick, while Kurt Benkert of Virginia, Riley Ferguson of Memphis and Mike White of Western Kentucky could probably be had on Day 3. Adding a young backup with mobility could help him survive if thrust into early playing time due to injury.
- Trade for a backup caliber quarterback
Offering a draft pick for a young quarterback with limited NFL experience would eliminate some of the risk compared to a completely unproven rookie. The 49ers would likely consider moving C.J. Beathard for the right return now that they have secured Jimmy Garoppolo to be their franchise quarterback. The Browns may not have roster space for Cody Kessler or Kevin Hogan if they acquire a new starting quarterback as expected. Another possibility is Trevor Siemian of the Broncos.
- Sign a journeyman in free agency
This would be a slightly more costly option than adding a player signed to a rookie contract, Mallett made $2 million last season. The addition of Urban also lessens the need to have another experienced voice in the quarterback room. Free agent quarterbacks such as Teddy Bridgewater, Matt Moore, Chad Henne and T.J. Yates would fall under this category.
- Promote from within
Josh Woodrum is currently under contract for less than $650 thousand. This 2016 undrafted free agent has bounced around the league, but spent most of last season on the Ravens practice squad after posting a 116 quarterback rating with four touchdowns in the preseason. If the Ravens believe Woodrum would be a serviceable backup, they could devote their draft assets and cap space to other needy areas.
How should the Ravens fill the backup quarterback position?
This poll is closed
Draft Flacco’s successor early
Draft a backup level prospect on Day 3
Trade for an experienced young backup
Sign a journeyman in free agency
Promote from within