The 10-7 Baltimore Ravens had a mixed season. Despite a strong start, what should have been a comfortable path to the playoffs was complicated by a toothless offense. Their offensive inefficiency was exacerbated by a PCL injury to Lamar Jackson, whose recovery took longer than initially reported.
Jackson, the 2019 MVP, is due a contract this year. The Ravens attempted to sign him to an extension last year, but negotiations fell through. With Jackson’s situation still in limbo, Baltimore must act to address the uncertainty around their quarterback room.
Baltimore Ravens Quarterbacks Situation Entering the Offseason
On the Roster: Anthony Brown
As it stands, Anthony Brown is the only quarterback currently under contract. He was an undrafted free agent in 2022 and served as Baltimore’s third-string option throughout the season. The rookie managed one start in Week 18, in place of the ailing Tyler Huntley, and threw for 286 yards, two interceptions, and no touchdowns. He also lost a fumble. The three turnovers ultimately resulted in Baltimore’s Week 18 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, condemning them to the AFC’s sixth seed.
Brown being the Ravens only quarterback under contract is far from ideal. He has very little NFL experience and should be stashed as Baltimore’s QB3 for now. His contract is minimal and keeps him with the team until 2025. It would be a massive surprise if the Ravens roll with Brown as their backup, let alone as their starter. Expect him to hang around and fight for a roster spot in training camp.
Free Agent: Lamar Jackson
Jackson’s contract talks are central in the Ravens headlines currently. The team is expected to reignite contract talks with their star quarterback soon, and the expectation is that they will find a way to make it work.
"Lamar Jackson is our quarterback… Every thing we've done… is based on this incredible young man." pic.twitter.com/dw6jPHQt7R
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) January 19, 2023
It seems that Jackson’s potential departure was more real than ever at the end of the season. Many argued that his injury and Baltimore’s struggling offense were evidence that he ought to be re-signed. Others suggested that his inability to stay healthy was enough evidence for Eric DeCosta to cut his losses.
Regardless, Jackson always seemed to want to stay in Baltimore. Despite reports saying that he was “not happy” with the organization, he was still committed and, last year, said that he expects to be a Raven for life. With Baltimore coming out and assuring Jackson and Ravens fans of the mutual interest in an extension, there remains the basis for successful negotiations.
"We're excited to start up negotiations again with Lamar Jackson." pic.twitter.com/MDwZh6mnbe
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) January 19, 2023
The main tension is Jackson’s guaranteed money. The offer he received last year was in excess of Kyler Murray’s mega extension and Russell Wilson’s deal. However, after the Cleveland Browns gave Deshaun Watson $250 million fully guaranteed, it is believed that Jackson is after a similar package. The reason? Jackson’s ground-and-pound style makes him liable to injury, meaning contract security is highly important. DeCosta, however, seems unwilling to entertain a fully-guaranteed deal for that very reason.
Despite this, what is not in question is Jackson’s ability. When playing, he is a difference-maker and was in the MVP race through the first 12 weeks of the season.
The fact the DeCosta is willing to build his roster around Jackson speaks volumes. Most recently, it was revealed that Jackson would have a say in the team’s next offensive coordinator. This is a positive sign of Jackson’s future in Baltimore.
#Ravens coach John Harbaugh says it clearly: "Lamar Jackson is our quarterback" and says there is a "200 percent" chance he stays. That's a lot of percent. He'll be involved in the OC hire.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 19, 2023
Free Agent: Tyler Huntley
Tyler Huntley hitting free agency is possibly of greater importance than fans realize. Huntley was disappointing this year, managing six games, 658 passing yards, 137 rushing yards, and three total touchdowns. He also lost a crucial goal-line fumble in the Wild Card round that sent the Ravens packing.
Harbaugh said the play call was for Huntley to go low on QB sneak. He instead tried to go over the top.
— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) January 16, 2023
Despite a down year, Huntley is an important part of the team, not least because he was crucial in keeping the team alive in 2021. He kept the ship afloat this year, in Jackson’s absence, but the vast difference in quality showed. Part of that was down to poor scheming from OC Greg Roman, but part of it was also down to Huntley’s own limited arm talent.
The Ravens could let Huntley walk given his poor year. However, their QB2 search is very important. If Jackson is expected to suit up in 2023, a QB2 that is ready to step up is essential.
The Outside Options
As it stands, Jackson looks like he will be with the franchise in 2023. If he fails to agree an extension with the team, he will be tagged. But the plan is to keep him around.
Relatedly, the Ravens will look to revolutionize their offense after Greg Roman elected to walk away and restructure their roster, such as by trading for DeAndre Hopkins. This not only improves the Ravens, it also gives Jackson more incentive to sign on sooner.
The likeliest scenario seems to be that Jackson stays and Huntley departs. This would ensure that the Ravens can negotiate with Jackson for another year if needed and the team can also bring in a new backup. This new backup could be a late-round rookie. Someone like Stetson Bennett or Clayton Tune might suit the team. Equally, they could find some experience in the form of Jacoby Brissett or Teddy Bridgewater.
There is still the outside option of the team tagging Jackson and trading him. Is it likely? Given the team’s recent comments about their commitment to Jackson, his departure is hard to imagine. But there is a chance.