Baltimore Ravens: 5 Reasons the Ravens Should Consider Trading Joe Flacco
Look, before you jump down my throat and tell me how ridiculous this all sounds, remember two things.
This is draft week, meaning this is probably not the most ridiculous trade proposal you will hear, and what else besides mock drafts is there to debate?
The Ravens have many decisions to ponder during this offseason. As a Ravens fan I find myself sitting around every day (while cheering for the Capitals) wondering what the Ravens can do to get over the proverbial hump known as the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Thanks again to Aaron Rogers and the Green Bay Packers, because only they made this offseason bearable.
Please do not get me wrong, I am a Flacco fan.
I even named my dog after him and then found out that many Spanish speaking folks here in the Sunshine state thought we named him because he was skinny.
No, we named him after Joseph Vincent Flacco, the current disgruntled franchise quarterback of my hometown team, the Baltimore Ravens.
Skinny is coming off a career year and is the already the Ravens' all-time leading passer in yards (10,206), touchdown passes (60), completions (878) and attempts (1,416).
He is just the third starting quarterback since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to reach the playoffs in his first three NFL seasons, joining Bernie Kosar and Dan Marino.
Last season, Flacco finished 10th in TD passes (25), seventh in passer rating (93.6) and only three QB's threw fewer interceptions with more attempts than Flacco.
Flacco has recently been disgruntled with Ravens management. Currently he has two years remaining on the original contract he signed after he was the team's first round pick in 2008 out of the University of Delaware.
The 26-year-old New Jersey native wants an extension now, and was recently quoted in the Baltimore Sun saying so. Flacco told Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley the following:
"Ideally for me, I would like to start talks this year. Next year, I feel like they would have to throw something in front of me that's going to be pretty legit in order for me to not play out my fifth year.
"If you don't sign me this year, you're making me play a whole year of my contract with no security. In a year from now, I'm going to be thinking, 'Hey, they already made me play one year without another contract, what's the harm in playing another year and seeing what happens after that?'"
Flacco continued by saying, “I would like to do something as soon as possible because I feel like I deserve it," Flacco said. "If you don't feel like I'm going to be your quarterback for the next 10 years, what's one year going to make. I don't know what the deal is. We'll have to let this play out and see."
Flacco was also upset over the dismissal of Ravens QB coach Jim Zorn back in February and took the firing personally. Flacco also expressed his feelings on the handling of that issue.
By getting rid of Zorn, Flacco felt as if the Ravens were taking a swipe at his performance this season.
"I'm kind of taking it personal," Flacco said. "You're saying that you're not happy with the position. I'm not sure if there is any truth to that, but that's the vibe you're sending to your quarterback. I feel like I'm being attacked."
Is there a storm brewing for the Ravens front office and Joe Flacco? Joe has to know his extension is not the Ravens top priority.
Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is due before Flacco, and once the lockout ends the Ravens must scramble to re-sign their players that do not have two years left on their contracts.
Along with all Ravens fans, I have suffered through years of quarterback futility in Baltimore. I remember Stoney Case, Scott Mitchell, Anthony Wright, and the many others that lined up behind center.
Why would I even suggest trading Flacco, you ask?
Why not look around and see what his worth is. Even with Flacco’s success this past season, many scouts in and out of the organization feel he will never be the QB we fans think he will be.
This after all, will be year four for cool-hand Joe.
As the 2011 NFL Draft approaches, here are five reasons and possible scenarios the Ravens may want to consider trading Flacco this week.
There would be plenty of takers for Flacco.
No. 5: Despite Career Year, Flacco Failed to Make the Leap Many Thought He Would
Joe Flacco did not lead the Ravens this season or take over the offense as many felt he should have.
In an early March article by Matt Williamson of Scouts.Inc, the following observations about Flacco's year and progress were made:
"Expectations were high coming into the 2010 season, and Flacco had few turnovers and did not make a lot of mistakes overall. He also didn't have games where he just killed his team. But Flacco rarely took games over.
"His 301 passing yards against the lowly Panthers in Week 11 was his highest output of the season. In what has evolved into a passing league, more big games are needed. He just didn't take that noticeable step forward that many envisioned."
The above video is a pass that should have never been thrown. When you consider when it took place, where on the field it took place and what resulted from the play, it was a horrible setback for Flacco.
Williamson goes on to say, "The Ravens' offense needs to be Flacco's offense, and it just isn't. He isn't a great playmaker when the original plan doesn't go to script, and his pocket presence overall is just average.
"Pressure gives him more problems than it probably should at this stage of his career. Late in the year, Baltimore rededicated itself to the run and didn't put much on Flacco's plate. Although it could be argued that this offense should go through Ray Rice.
"If Baltimore believed that Flacco was a big-time quarterback, it would not have hesitated to allow him to carry the team more down the stretch. There were few pass plays called during those final three games, when Flacco threw for just 399 yards on 58 attempts for a measly 6.9 yards per attempt.”
No 4- #52 and the Ravens Defense Is Not Getting Younger
Plays like the one above may become more frequent this season for the future hall of fame middle linebacker. The Ravens defense blew some leads last year, eight in the fourth quarter alone.
The Ravens defense will still be good this year, but it will not be great. The lockout all but insures the Ravens will not be able to improve what many consider an aging group. You can bank on two things right now with this defense.
Ed Reed will complain about something before the year starts and Ray Lewis will be allowed to cover a receiver on third and anything longer than five this season.
How does Joe Flacco factor in this equation? He must make the leap this year that he failed to make last year in terms of leadership and overall playmaking ability.
The Ravens offense may be called upon more frequently to pick up the aging defensive stars this season.
The Ravens may need a few more fourth quarter comebacks this season and Flacco is going to have to be the man for the job. The question is, can he be the man?
Trading Flacco may not be the fix to this problem. Resigning Marc Bulger or another veteran QB does not guarantee fourth quarter composure and success. Make no mistake about it Ravens fans, Flacco must be the answer and not another question mark this year when wondering if he is capable of leading his team back consistently.
Flacco had his moments last year and he showed flashes. There was the Pittsburgh game early in the season in the Steel City, but then again, there was also the Pittsburgh game late in the year in Baltimore.
Ravens brass are not sold on Flacco. During the end of the year press conference, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome praised Flacco, but also said he was a "guy that can be inconsistent, not get it done at times."
No.3- Flacco Has Yet to Firmly Grasp the Offense
There is plenty of blame to go around surrounding the Ravens worst offensive decision of the 2010 season. You know what was at stake and you know that the Ravens tried to throw the ball on second--and-five with the lead, at home and in December.
While many blame Cam Cameron for the play call, I blame Joe Flacco for the play's execution or lack thereof. Flacco struggled with blitz recognition all season long and especially blitzing DB's from the outside. He never got better over the season.
Many may even say Flacco regressed in this area. The Polomalu strip-sack-fumble occurred in early December and the Houston Texans, who owned one of the worst defenses in the league, continued to the same type of blitz a week later with success.
Flacco was also criticized nationally in mid-October, when ESPN radio host Collin Cowherd had this to say about what he said came from a "source he trusts a lot".
The quote from Cowherd went like this, "Word has gotten around the NFL" that the way to shut down Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is to take away his first read. Flacco, Cowherd's source claimed, is too slow getting to his second read, and immediately throws a check down to Ray Rice when it is not there.
"The word around the league is coaches are discovering Flacco, if you take away his initial option, he goes to a running back," Cowherd said. "His progressions are slower, his development has been slower, he's not a [Drew] Brees, [Peyton] Manning, or [Donovan] McNabb. Apparently, [Bill] Belichick has seen things on film, and Rex Ryan has seen things on film. Flacco is slow in his progressions, and it's troubling to some of the people inside the organization. His development is not what they were hoping it was. He's hit a wall."
Cowherd said his "source" thinks too much of the blame is being directed at the coaching staff.
Coaching staffs can deal with physical mistakes from a young QB, but Flacco made a lot of mental mistakes. Mental mistakes from a third-year signal caller, especially repeated ones, drive NFL head coaches and offensive coordinators crazy.
Flacco must show he is grasping the offense and can execute it in crunch time. While Flacco has the physical tools, many still wonder about what is between the ear holes of his helmet.
No.2- Wheres the Leadership?
It took a late hit from the New Orleans Saints to get this kind of reaction from Joe Flacco. I am not saying a leader has to be a screamer. A leader in the huddle does have to get fiery at times when things go awry and Joe Flacco has yet to step up and take that role.
He does not need to be Dan Marino and embarrass his players, but he needs to step to the front of the huddle a little more and be more confident in his walk, talk and play.
The Ravens offensive leader this year was Anquan Boldin. Boldin was seen many times during the year trying to rally the troops on the sidelines after a failed series.
During the Falcons game on the NFL Network this past year and following a Flacco interception to start the third quarter, Boldin was seen giving a motivational speech to the entire offense.
Whatever he said must have worked, because the Ravens offense marched down the field on their next possession and scored a touchdown. Have you ever seen Joe Flacco do that?
The Ravens overall team leader will always be Ray Lewis and it is up to Ray as to when he wants to pass the baton and, for that matter, who he wants to pass it too.
Flacco is just not the type of QB that instills fear in the opposition and he may never be.
No.1- You Decide, Is Flacco a Franchise QB and If Not Then Why Procrastinate
What is a franchise QB and how do you know when you have one? If you look at Brady, Manning, Brees, Rivers and even Ben Casssanovaberger, what did coaches see after three years that told them they were the future?
Brees was shipped out of San Diego in favor of Rivers, who went 14-2 in his third season. Manning was 26-22 with 85 TDs and 56 INT's after three seasons, but you just knew what was ahead.
Big Ben and Brady had three Super Bowl rings combined by year four.
For the sake of argument, Aaron Rogers just completed his third full season behind center.
Where does this leave Flacco? Right now, he is an average-to-above average NFL QB on a very good but aging football team.
If the price is right, the Ravens should at least consider looking at the possibility of trading Flacco.
I guess the question becomes, do you think Flacco is the future and can deliver a Lombardi Trophy back to Baltimore? Because if you don't and the price is right would you trade Flacco?
The NFL is now a passing league and if Flacco is not your future then the time is now to find him. Flacco, if he never wins a Super Bowl may never be worth more right now considering his potential, age and physical abilities.
Flacco has been very lucky behind an average offensive pass protecting line in the last three years. He has yet to sustain a major injury or even a concussion and thank goodness.
The Ravens will have to dole out big bucks eventually for Flacco if they want to keep him, but do they want to.
I am sure the Ravens will not start any trade conversations next week, but they certainly would take the call should the team on the other end ask for Joe cool. If they were willing to let Ray Lewis walk two years ago, they would trade Joe Flacco.
There is one more slide to go
Possible Scenarios for a Trade and Who Will the Ravens End Up Taking at #26
Scenario No.1–Trade Flacco to the Arizona Cardinals
The Baltimore Ravens trade to the Arizona Cardinals Joe Flacco and receive in return the Cardinals 2011 No. 5 pick, 2011 No. 38 pick (second round) , and No. 69 (third round). Alternatively, throw out the third round pick and throw in John Skelton.
Skelton is a project, but at 6'5 and 244 pounds, he could develop in Baltimore, especially if the Ravens sign a veteran like Donovan McNabb or resign Marc Bulger. Not to mention that Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert could be around with the No. 5 spot.
A little much, you say, for as bad as this article ripped Flacco, That seems to be all the Cardinals are missing in a weak NFC West and Flacco could be a different QB in the desert. There would be a lot less pressure on Joe Cool in the Arizona heat, even with all the draft picks the Cards would give up.
The Ravens could wheel and deal all day with a trade like that and does anyone remember what the Ravens did the last time they had two first round draft picks? *Can you say John Ogden and Ray Lewis?
*Correction- The Ravens also had two first round draft picks in the 2003 NFL Draft. After making a deal with the New England Patriots, Baltimore chose Terrell Suggs and Kyle Boller
Scenario No.2–Trade Flacco to the Tennessee Titans
The Ravens could ask for the Titans 2011 No. 8 pick and No.39 pick (second round). It sounds nuts, trading Flacco to an AFC team that used to be a division rival, but they are good enough to compete with a decent QB and feel that pass rushing and QB is all they are missing.
The Titans would not give up as much for Flacco as say the Cardinals, they are a better run franchise and feel like landing a Donovan McNabb or even Marc Bulger will buy them time if they can draft a QB in this year.
Scenario No.3–Nothing, Do you really think the Ravens would trade Flacco but hopefully I got you thinking. Flacco better step up this year or this could be truth next season at this time.
Remember this is draft week and rumors will fly. What else is there to talk about? Joe Flacco opens the season under center and leads the Ravens back to the playoffs for a fourth straight season.
Enjoy the draft and all of the rumors that come with the event. Look for the Purple Birds to select OT, Derek Sherrod from Mississippi State, CB Jimmy Smith from Colorado (even with baggage) or CB Brandon Harris from Miami.
Harris is who I believe the Ravens actually end up with. As they always do, the Ravens will fill a need with the best athlete at the position they are seeking to fill.