Ted Ginn is tackled at the 48-yard line and the game is over, the Baltimore Ravens are Super Bowl champions! That’s the beginning of this story. SB Nation asked us all “What if?” questions, with free reign, and there’s nothing more pivotal for the Ravens than quarterback Joe Flacco.
Before the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII, both Joe Flacco and his agent, Joe Linta, and the Ravens front office couldn’t come to the final agreement. According to USA Today, the sides were only a single million dollars off from finalizing a contract. But that didn’t happen, Joe Flacco bet a $90 million deal on himself, tied the greatest TD/INT ratio in NFL history and won both the Lombardi Trophy and the Pete Rozell Trophy. The next contract, I imagine, became much more different with the hardware involved.
But what if Ozzie Newsome and the Baltimore Ravens didn’t sign Joe Flacco after Super Bowl XLVII?
Ozzie made up his mind before the incredible run and is confident Joe Flacco wouldn’t replicate those post-season numbers season afterward. He’s not willing to dish out a six-year/$120.6 million deal with over $50 million guaranteed. What happens?
The 2013 draft was abysmal for quarterbacks, which is where I assume the team starts. They scout heavily on E.J. Manuel, Geno Smith, Mike Glennon and Matt Barkley; they find zero solutions to the problem here. They also lacked the draft capital to really trade up, though the only quarterback in the first round was the Bills surprising everybody by selecting Manuel at 16 overall. I don’t suspect Ozzie or Eric DeCosta reaching in the NFL Draft, even with Joe Flacco not becoming a Raven.
Free agency is another option for the Ravens in 2013, but mercy it’s not pretty.
- Brian Hoyer
- Luke McCown
- Tyler Thigpen
- Jason Campbell
- Josh McCown
- Drew Stanton
- Brady Quinn
- Matt Moore
- Chase Daniel
- Rex Grossman
These are the top ten names of the twenty quarterbacks who were unrestricted free agents, and none of them were worth half of Joe’s deal.
The only solution is running with their backup quarterback, Tyrod Taylor. In this ‘What if?’ scenario, it’s highly likely the Ravens are capable of building around Taylor. Joe Flacco’s cap hit in year one was only $6.8 million, but none of that occurs with him gone. The following season it jumped to $14.8 million, which begins the bind of cap management. Now, the Ravens have $6.8 million extra to throw Anquan Boldin’s way in year one, which I’m confident Baltimore pays for his skills. He was nowhere near washed up, as the next two seasons in San Francisco Boldin topped 1,000 yards, 80 receptions, and at least five touchdowns. They needed to pay the man. Hell, he didn’t even need a new deal after the Super Bowl, Baltimore just couldn’t afford his cap hit. Now they can give an extension in 2013 or re-structure the deal.
It’s not crazy to think of letting a Super Bowl winning quarterback walk, as Baltimore did exactly that with Trent Dilfer. Mind you, I understand these are vastly different players, but it’s still not out of the realm of possibility. Joe leaves in free agency, Baltimore receives a compensatory pick, Taylor becomes the starting quarterback and the Ravens keep the money they were going to unload for Joe Flacco to build another contender. But let’s not act like it would have turned out perfectly.
Taylor wasn’t demonstrating starting quarterback qualities with the Ravens in practice or on the field. He was developing, but not many believed into a starting NFL quarterback. With a solid run game and holding onto Anquan Boldin, maybe the Ravens stay afloat, but it’s impossible to tell. Do they finish 8-8 like Joe Flacco did, or does Tyrod lead the Ravens to a win over the Steelers, Bengals or Browns to finish 9-7? Maybe the Ravens play worse with the young quarterback, sparking more chaos as the media bears down on the team who let a Super Bowl MVP quarterback walk out the door?