I think it’s safe to say that no team drafts a quarterback in the first round of a draft and doesn’t expect him to become a starter within a reasonable amount of time. Even if you have a first-round grade on a guy, you as an organization still have a little bit of wiggle room if you actually end up taking him in the third round. In that regard, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can probably chill a little bit.
As for Joe Flacco? His approach so far has been to remain silent as the Baltimore Ravens added former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson to the quarterback room with the final pick in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
There has been a mixed response to the franchise quarterback’s lack of response to the thus-far very responsive new potential franchise quarterback. Some—particularly those who make a living writing about the Ravens—have argued that he has taken the right approach by keeping quiet, not even offering some kind of olive branch token of camaraderie.
Perhaps he is right. After all, I can’t think of too many franchise quarterback on thinner ice than is Joe Cool, who has taken his team to a 40-40 record over the past five years since winning the Super Bowl, having failed to make the postseason for three consecutive seasons and four of the last five overall.
You probably shouldn’t open your mouth too much when you job is in jeopardy. While the early nature of the quarterback dynamic and the fact that he still has guaranteed money on the books surely gives Flacco a pass for at least the 2018 season, he will have to start worrying about 2019 and beyond.
The Ravens would have to eat a negative of $4 million if they were to release Flacco right now because of the accelerated money that would have to be accounted for over the next two years of his contract, which runs through the 2021 season.
But they are in the black after that. while they would accrue a whopping $16 million in dead money to release him next year (or half of that for 2019 and the rest for 2020 as a post-June release), they would still clear over $10 million in cap space to let him go, or nearly $19 million as a post-June release.
Say it takes Jackson two years to get ready then, and Flacco helms the offense through 2019. The Ravens could save over $20 million in cap space if they were to release him in 2020, or the full value of his base salary. They would still have to eat $8 million in dead money for previous prorated payments, but that would be there regardless of whether or not he’s on the roster.
The point is, after a decade in the league, the clock is officially ticking for Flacco. While he has already accomplished more than the vast majority at his position—securing a Super Bowl ring with a game MVP to boot—he could be looking for a new team as soon as next offseason.