The Baltimore Ravens attracted national attention after drafting quarterback Lamar Jackson in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft. Drafting Jackson sparked discussion over who would take the starting job in Baltimore. Naturally, all eyes fall on veteran quarterback Joe Flacco as fans wonder how long he can remain the number one option. Despite struggling since his Super Bowl run, Flacco’s fate rests in his hands alone.
When discussing Joe Flacco, his offensive struggles are a hot topic. After a promising start to his career, Flacco has underperformed since Baltimore won the Super Bowl in the 2012-13 season. Flacco’s ability to throw down the field has decreased since 2014 and he only averaged 5.72 yards per pass attempt last season. Baltimore has struggled on the offensive end despite having wide receivers like Torrey Smith and Mike Wallace grace the roster. It’s hard to ignore Flacco’s performance in recent years and there isn’t any evidence he’ll get better. If the trend continues, his Super Bowl run will look like an anomaly in an otherwise lackluster career. However, this offseason looks to change the narrative.
Teammates like safety Eric Weddle say that Flacco looks sharper and leaner in minicamp. Given the circumstances, this shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. In addition to Jackson, the Ravens picked up former Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III. Flacco now has two dual threat quarterbacks looking to unseat him in Baltimore. Coach John Harbaugh and the offensive staff stated that Flacco would be the starter for next season, but that was earlier in minicamp. Ever since Jackson stole the show in the last day of camp, the race for the starting job is as wide open as it’s been in years for Baltimore.
The Ravens are paying Flacco too much money for him not to perform. Flacco takes up over 13 percent of Baltimore’s cap space. That’s more than the salaries of C.J. Mosley, Eric Weddle, and Terrell Suggs combined. The main criticism of Flacco is that he hasn’t earned that salary and honestly, he hasn’t. I doubt that Flacco will ever command a top dollar contract again, but this is the last year to prove his doubters wrong. Flacco signed a 3-year $66.4 million extension in 2016 and can opt out in 2020. Given how much cap space he eats up, the Ravens can’t trade him until he produces again. He also makes too much money to ride the bench which is why the Ravens are desperate for him to return to form.
Flacco remains in the driver’s seat despite the gains Jackson has made to overtake him. As the veteran, Flacco deserves respect. I believe that the starting job is Flacco’s to lose this year. There’s no denying that Jackson is the future of the franchise and will get his chance to shine sooner rather than later. Flacco can decide how long he’s willing to delay the inevitable. If Flacco truly looks better this offseason, he should be starting. A veteran’s presence under center is invaluable in the NFL. Adding veteran receivers like Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead should help Flacco and the offense become a threat once again.
The Baltimore Ravens are the team to follow this offseason. The quarterback race is compelling, and fans can see how the young star Lamar Jackson stacks up to the seasoned veteran Joe Flacco. It’s time for Flacco to earn his salary and show that he’s head and shoulders above his replacements. Consider this Flacco’s last chance to prove himself. If he fails this season, his days as Baltimore’s starter are numbered.
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