Cue the Duckboats | Championship Collection for Banner 18SHOP NOW

Advertisement

The Baltimore Ravens Fell Short Of The Ultimate Goal This Year. What's Next?

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens

We’ve had a couple days to digest it and the reality has set in. While the Ravens did win their first AFC North title since 2012 and make their first playoff appearance since 2014, the taste at the end is still bitter, especially given the loss came at home. But progress is still progress. There was a proverbial hump that the Ravens weren’t able to get over the past few years that left them short of the playoffs. After blowing a road game against the Chiefs that was supposed to be their coming out party, the Ravens could’ve easily packed it in and they didn’t. They came up big down the stretch and earned that division title.

They even indirectly sent Pittsburgh into a tailspin. I mean, if CJ Mosley doesn’t pick that Baker Mayfield pass off, it’s reasonable to believe the Steelers’ squash their Antonio Brown beef behind closed doors and go about their business heading into the playoffs. Instead all that nasty laundry got aired out and there’s no going back. Pandora doesn’t go back in the box, he only comes out.

I say all of this to take the sting out of Sunday’s loss. Things will be changing over the next few months, some more obvious than others. Some of those changes are going to painful. Some will lead to some question marks. But overall we’re in a much better position than that circus up in the boonies. We’re trending up, they’re trending down. We’ve got a franchise QB on the up and up, and theirs is on his last leg no pun intended. Just gotta keep an eye out for those pesky Browns (huh?!?). Here’s what we’ve got to keep our eye on heading into the offseason.

Will John Harbaugh Get Extended Beyond 2019?

harbs

The Ravens oddly announced that they were extending him the night prior to a massive Week 16 matchup in LA. Then reports continued to trickle out, mainly from that king clown JLC, that nothing had been agreed upon and Harbaugh would still likely be leaving after the season. Well let me just say this. I don’t buy it for a second. I understand that Harbaugh is in a position of power here given the myriad of teams without coaches that would LOVE to have him. But I 1000% believe the man when he says he wants to stay in Baltimore.

Why would he leave? While there may be a true changing of the guard at QB for the first time in his head coaching career, this is an organization that has put a ton of trust in him over the years. They give him a lot of leash when it comes to personnel decisions, and the collaboration between Harbs, the front office (Ozzie and now Eric DeCosta), and Steve Bisciotti makes up one of the more unique triads in the league. I’m sure there are disagreements at times (and it would be unhealthy if there weren’t), but this is a group that has enjoyed a lot of success together. Continuity plays a big part of that. I believe John Harbaugh is smart enough to know that.

Obviously rumors have been flying around about what John Harbaugh would fetch in a trade. One of the biggest hurdles in a hypothetical trade scenario is that Harbs would have to agree to an extension to said team. So are we really supposed to believe that Harbaugh and the Ravens are at a point coming off a division title and 11 good years where both sides would be willing to turn their key? The haul would have to be massive, like 2 first rounders and then some, and the contract would have to astronomical too. That’s the only way I can see it happening, and it only gets my stamp of approval if Wink Martindale is named the next head coach. But I just don’t see it happening and I don’t buy rumors of any sort of dissent between the Ravens and Harbaugh. Take that trash elsewhere Jason La Canfora.

Where Will Joe Flacco End Up?

joe leaving

It pains me to actually write this sentence, but I have to so that I can start to let go.

We’ve seen the last of Joe Flacco in a Ravens uniform.

There’s really no other option. We’ll save ourselves $10.5M against the cap in 2019 and be cleared of any liability moving forward, which will be tremendously helpful as we build around Lamar Jackson. So the choice is clear. Flacco’s days in Baltimore are over.

It doesn’t even feel real. I’m going to save the long-winded emotional piece about the Ravens’ greatest QB in franchise for when that decisive roster move is made, but I’ll just say this for now. Thank you for everything you did for Baltimore, Joe.

Who knows where he’ll end up. I really hope that he can fetch us something around a 3rd or 4th round pick, and I think he should. I think he has some good years left in the tank, and he showed that early in the year when he was healthy. And whatever situation he’d be going into, odds are that he’d be going into an offense more closely tailored to his abilities and with more weapons than any offense he experienced here in Baltimore, save maybe the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

More importantly, it’s tough to put a value on a veteran QB that has been through as much as Joe has. Joe came into the league as a game manager. While he improved and the Ravens’ great defense of the 00’s started to deteriorate, he evolved into the type of QB that he had to be, namely one that had to try to carry an offense with his arm. But at his core, I think he was born to be a QB who hands the ball off more times than not, and works off the play-action with his strong arm. That’s why I think Jacksonville is the perfect situation for him. Despite them going 5-11 this past year, they still have all the pieces that put them a bounce away from a Super Bowl bid last year. Leonard Fournette is as good a back as any in this league, and the defense is still formidable. He could “game manage” the hell out of that offense and would be an instant upgrade over what they’ve had at that position the last few years.

The other rumors out there are places like Miami, DC, and Denver. I just don’t see those being fits like I see Jacksonville. Each of those teams are too far away from a contention window for them to invest in a QB on the back 9 of his career. I’ve seen franchises make hastier decisions so who knows, but I think Jacksonville is beyond a perfect fit. Hopefully we’ll see that happen. Anything but DC, anything.

Who Else Might Be On Their Way Out?

suggsWhile it may feel like the Ravens are a young franchise given the new identity of their QB, there are a quite a few veterans who make up this roster. Having Flacco’s numbers off the books will help to retain some of them, but others just won’t be worth keeping around. There’s gonna be a ton of cap math down the road that will be the ultimate factors in some of these decisions, but I’ll just go through some of these quickly, as there’s plenty of time of offseason to touch on some of these situations:

Advertisement

Terrell Suggs: Pending free agent, says he still has some left in the tank and wants to stay in Baltimore. I think we should give the man another contract. His play tapered a bit in the 2nd half and I wouldn’t go beyond one year, but I think his leadership is invaluable and he’s given too much to the franchise to not go out a Raven.

Eric Weddle: Has a contract for 2019, albeit an expensive one for $8.25M. We would save $6.5M by cutting him. He says he’d retire if he’d be cut. I could honestly go either way with this one, but depends on what we want to do about…

Tony Jefferson: This gets dicey… don’t think you can cut both Jefferson & Weddle. Normally one would default to keeping the younger one, but the younger one actually has the bigger contract. It’s a toss-up.

Jimmy Smith: Has a contract for 2019, and can save $9.5M by cutting him.

Brandon Carr: $7M contract, $5M cap savings by cutting him. I think you gotta choose one to cut between Jimmy and Carr and I think it has to be Carr.

CJ Mosley: Pending free agent. Take some of that Flacco money and give it to CJ. He’s not perfect, but he’s the current and future leader of this defense and made the play of the year. Give that man his money. Golden Tee at Wayward doesn’t pay for itself.

Za’Darius Smith: Pending Free Agent. Loved the way he came on this year, but he’s a classic Ravens pass-rusher that will be better off collecting a fatter check elsewhere while we collect a comp pick. Think Pernell McPhee, Paul Kruger, and Art Jones. Let him walk, we’ve still got Judon.

John Brown: Pending Free agent. Seemed to be a much better fit with Flacco than Lamar. I came to love this guy early in the season, but don’t think Baltimore is his best fit moving forward.

RGIII: I can’t believe how smart this signing ended up being. He was really phenomenal in the preseason, and even lead the Ravens to a FG drive down in Atlanta in the regular season. I think we’ve seen enough to know he can be a great backup to Lamar, but the league hasn’t seen enough to give him another shot at a starting gig. It’d be smart for everyone involved for him to come back to Baltimore (and maybe get a 3rd mobile QB onto the p-squad)

Like I said, there’s a lot of decisions that are going to have to be made about people that are already on the roster. That doesn’t even touch on the free agent market, the draft, any potential trades… our work is cut out for us. But it also means there’s a lot of options to be flexible with, and we can move those pieces around accordingly.

All in all, the meat and potatoes of what made this team successful in 2018 should still be in place in 2019, and they should be in ever better position from 2020 forward with Flacco completely off the books. If there’s one thing I think we should get out in front of now, it would be getting Marlon Humphrey a long-term deal before it’s too late. Because that guy is a DUDE and will be the lynchpin of our defense for the next 5+ years.

Things are looking up. We’ve got a young QB who has shown a lot of good things, we’ve got the league’s best defense and should be able to bring close to all of it back, and we’ll continue to have one of the best coaches in the league. Yeah, so we didn’t win the Super Bowl in 2018. GOOD.