Should the Baltimore Ravens Trade Tyler Huntley?

Tyler Huntley

The Baltimore Ravens 2021 season was filled with lowlights. The Ravens dealt a plethora of injuries and lost six-straight games to finish the season with an 8-9 record. It was the first time the Ravens finished under .500 since the 2015 season. However, one of the brightest spots was the play of backup quarterback Tyler Huntley.

Huntley was signed as an undrafted free agent after the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft. He spent the majority of his rookie season on the Ravens practice squad but made his way into three games over the year. His biggest task came when he was forced to replace Lamar Jackson after a concussion knocked him out of the Ravens 2021 Divisional Round game against the Buffalo Bills.

Huntley then earned the backup quarterback job prior to the start of the 2021 season. He played in seven total games and made four starts throughout the year. Huntley finished with a record of 1-3 but showed a surprising ability to navigate the Ravens offense. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s offense has been specifically tailored to the dynamic Jackson’s skillset and Huntley fit right in.

The Ravens are now forced to make a somewhat complicated decision in regards to Huntley. As a backup, Huntley had some lows but ultimately showed he could potentially compete for a job as an NFL starting quarterback. The Ravens already have their franchise quarterback in Jackson and Huntley will likely never be more than a backup in Baltimore. Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta has a long off-season in front of him and could deal Huntley to a quarterback-needy team if the price is right.

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Does A Tyler Huntley Trade Make Sense For Baltimore Ravens?

The Case For Keeping Tyler Huntley

It is fair to say that the second most important player on your team is the backup quarterback. Injuries are a huge part of the NFL and the Ravens felt that and more in 2021. Lamar Jackson missed five of the Ravens final eight games in 2021 and played just 10 offensive snaps in the Ravens 24-22 Week 14 loss to the Cleveland Browns before an ankle injury forced him out of the game.

While it was impossible to expect Huntley to perfectly replicate the play of his unanimous MVP teammate, he did a good job in relief. The record will show Huntley finished the year with just one win in his four starts, but his play exceeded his win total.

Huntley heavily featured in five games; accounting for an average of 265.2 yards per game, a passer rating of 77.9, a 66.1 completion percentage, and five total touchdowns. For comparison, Jalen Hurts finished his rookie season (2020) registering an average of 265.8 yards per game, a passer rating of 76.5, a 51 completion percentage, and accounted for nine total touchdowns. The biggest downside to Huntley’s play was his turnovers. He had six total turnovers in just five games.

Huntley lost his final four appearances in 2021. However, the Ravens lost those four games by a combined 10 points. There is no quarterback on the planet that can fully replace a healthy Lamar Jackson but Huntley showed he can efficiently operate the Ravens offense when called upon. He may not be perfect but it takes a certain type of quarterback to play in an offense uniquely tailored to the greatest dual-threat quarterback of all time.

Potential Compensation

The value of a quarterback has never been higher. Quarterback is the most valuable position on the football field and that is reflected in the trade compensation teams have recently received for players with less than stellar resumes. Huntley may only have four career starts under his belt but he has showcased a lot of potential. He has three games with a completion percentage above 70 and has registered a passer rating of over 99.0 in two of those games.

Recent comparables to Huntley include Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater. The New York Jets drafted Darnold with the third-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. In three seasons in New York, he failed to record a QBR of over 46.0 or a completion percentage over 62 percent. However, Darnold was dealt to the Carolina Panthers last offseason for each a sixth-round pick in 2021 and a second and fourth-round pick in 2022.

The Panthers signed Bridgewater as a free agent prior to the start of the 2020 season in hopes he could provide an intermediate level of quarterback play. He was coming off debatably the best season of his career and showed that despite having a relatively high floor, he has an equally underwhelming ceiling. Bridgewater was shipped off to the Denver Broncos prior to the 2021 NFL Draft for a sixth-round pick. The Panthers retained $7 million of his $10 million cap hit last season.

It is reasonable to believe Huntley’s trade value would be between Darnold’s and Bridgewater. He provides mid-tier starting quarterback potential at just 24 years old and would have a cap hit of under $1 million in 2022. His next contract would also come at the discretion of his new team. Per this valuation, he should be worth a late third-round or early fourth-round pick.

Potential Trade Destinations

The quarterback market in 2022 is as hot as it has ever been. Big names like Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Kirk Cousins could all be on the move this off-season while smaller pieces such as Jimmy Garoppolo could also change the NFL landscape over the next seven months.

The teams best suited to take a chance on Huntley are teams with good rosters that do not have a simple solution at quarterback. Huntley’s value will also be helped by the lackluster quarterback class in the 2022 NFL Draft.  It is widely perceived that every quarterback coming out of college this season has a number of large questions surrounding them. Huntley on the other hand has already put a few good starts on film as a pro.

The Washington Commanders could be a great trade partner for the Ravens. Taylor Heinicke has proved to be a fun watch but an unreliable starter and Washington has one of the best rosters in the NFC outside of the quarterback position. The Commanders are only missing their fifth-round pick in 2022 and have a ton of fun weapons on offense to pair with Huntley.

The Detroit Lions may have the second-overall pick in the draft but they will likely be looking at another season with Jared Goff as their starter in 2022. However, the Lions have three of the top-34 picks in the 2022 draft to build around whoever is under center next season. They also have an extra third-round pick. If Brad Holmes doesn’t want to take a shot at QB with his first three picks, why not take a shot at Huntley? Playing behind Taylor Decker, Penei Sewell and Frank Ragnow would go a long way in making Huntley feel secure in the Detroit Pocket.

Likelihood Huntley is traded: UNLIKELY

While there are a number of good reasons for the Ravens to trade their backup quarterback, it still seems like an unlikely move. DeCosta has proved he is all about acquiring draft capital in unique ways but Huntley is simply too valuable a piece to move in the wake of Jackson’s injury last season. Roman runs a very specific type of offense in Baltimore and Huntley has proved he can execute it at a higher level than most backups.

The quarterback may be the most important position in football but a backup quarterback can have days where he is equally important. It is a tough call to make but unless the Ravens find perfect compensation, Tyler Huntley should be in Baltimore backing up Lamar Jackson in 2022.

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