If you’ve ever had a job (which I’m guessing most of you reading this have), you may be familiar with the concept of a consulting firm coming in and offering up thoughts on how a company can improve their operations moving forward. Or, if you’ve seen the movie “Office Space” and remember the memorable role the “Bobs” played:
As anyone who’s seen the movie knows, these two are portrayed in a somewhat sinister fashion, but consultant is a very real-world job indeed. Rather than taking it in a darker direction such as that, we’re going to be doing something similar (but hopefully not as cutthroat) for the future of the Baltimore Ravens.
A-la a consulting firm, we’ll be taking a look at their books, poring over 2021 performances, and offering up our recommendations with how they should move forward in each case with their players, looking at things positionally with the details provided courtesy of Spotrac’s contracts page.
First up is the most important position on the field: Quarterback.
2022 Experience: Fifth year, Age 25 season
2021 Cap Hit: $3,013,708
PFF Grade: 70.3
Future Outlook: Due to make $23,016,000 in 2022 playing on the fifth-year option; beyond that he’s the next quarterback in line to receive the proverbial “mega contract” that will lock him up as the Ravens’ starter for years down the line
What’s most interesting about an exercise like this is how much certain players effect other players and their future with the team. This is maybe none truer than in the case of the Ravens young superstar quarterback who after reaching some exceptional highs, and facing some significant lows in 2021, is due for a very significant contract extension that will marry him and the team for the long term.
The team has been public in their stance that this extension is a matter of “when” and not “if,” so at this point, it comes down to parsing through what it’s ultimately going to look like. Patrick Mahomes set an (absurd) new bar with his 10-year, $450,000,000 contract that he signed with Kansas City, but it’s a bar that isn’t (and shouldn’t) be relevant to other young quarterbacks around the league that are up for deals. That was true in the case of Josh Allen, who’s six-year, $258,000,000 deal put him in the range of about $43 million per year for the Buffalo Bills.
Allen’s deal is one that will likely serve as the template for Jackson, who after a down second half of 2021 (partially due to injury) isn’t entering the offseason with the best negotiating position. My guess would be that Baltimore won’t hold much of what happened at his worst against him, but where things get interesting in all of this is Jackson’s much debated decision to forgo having an agent to bargain on his behalf. This could be something that actually works in both parties’ favor as it will allow the quarterback to eschew an agents negotiating fee (usually topping out at 3%) and give the team some extra wiggle room to keep his final number down by a few million per year.
It’ll be hard to nail down exactly what the numbers will be, so my suggestions would be this: do whatever it takes to first lock up Jackson long term, and then do whatever is in your power to ensure that he isn’t playing behind a similar offensive line to the one he had to work with in 2021. If they’re even marginally better than they were, it’s reasonable to expect that Jackson (with some extremely solid weapons at his disposal) will return to Pro Bowl form in 2022 if his offseason is spent wisely.
Recommendation: Ensure Jackson’s health is where it needs to be, and then finalize an extension for him somewhere in the territory of Josh Allen’s deal
2022 Experience: Third year, Age 24 season
2021 Cap Hit: $780,000
PFF Grade: 68.3
Future Outlook: 2022 Restricted Free Agent
The Ravens got a much closer look at Tyler Huntley and his strengths and weaknesses than they were hoping to in 2021. Granted, the picture he painted for them was overall a pretty encouraging one.
While he went 1-3 as a starter (essentially 1-4 after playing the majority of a loss in Cleveland) he showed himself to be the right fit for this offense, and a reasonable facsimile for what Lamar Jackson can provide in a pinch. For a unique scheme and starting quarterback, that’s about the best you can ask for out of a second-year undrafted backup playing behind a disastrous offensive line.
Unfortunately for Tyler, he was swept up into a conversation that was bigger than him at times, which set unfair expectations and marred the context of his otherwise humble beginnings. That would be, how does his skillset compare to Lamar Jackson, and how would he fare as a full-time starter in the NFL?
Ultimately, his 2021 tape shook out to show a player who has promise (and maybe even could be an eventual starter) but isn’t quite ready for that yet. But in this regard, his status as a restricted free agent presents an interesting situation for the Ravens.
With the option to extend him for another year, Baltimore can essentially approach it like this: he’ll either remain in house for another year as a quality backup, or fetch them a very nice price on the trade market. Should they extend a first-round tender on him, he’ll either stay in the picture on a backup QB salary for upwards of $4 million, or net them a first-round pick in 2022 from whichever team is interested enough (or in that case, desperate enough) to acquire his services; if they were to apply the second-round tender, he’ll either land them a second-round pick in ‘22, or play on a salary upwards of $3 million (as an undrafted free agent, he doesn’t qualify for an original round tender designation).
Basically what this boils down to is that the Ravens probably liked what they saw from Huntley, but would take premium draft capital in exchange for him if offered. Given that they were able to find him as an undrafted gem just two years ago, even netting a second round pick from him for this coming draft would represent a major coup.
Recommendation: Apply the second-round tender to Huntley and either be rewarded with a coveted draft pick, or keep your quality young backup in town for another year at an estimated salary of $3.3 million
2022 Experience: 15th year, Age 36 season
2021 Cap Hit: $188,888
PFF Grade: 73.3
Future Outlook: Unrestricted free agent
Recommendation: Let him walk, but keep his number on file; he performed admirably in Cincinnati, and in the age of COVID, a reliable third quarterback is a valuable asset
2022 Experience: Third year, Age 27 season
2021 Cap Hit: $55,200
PFF Grade: N/A
Future Outlook: A current practice squad player, Streveler isn’t under contract for 2022 quite yet
Recommendation: Bring both Streveler and Kenji Bahar into 2022 camp if they’d accept the opportunity, and have them compete for the role of emergency quarterback