Patrick Semansky/Associated Press
Baltimore Ravens safety Eric Weddle has noticed a difference in teammate Joe Flacco, telling reporters Wednesday the arrivals of Lamar Jackson and Robert Griffin III “lit a fire under” the veteran quarterback.
Weddle said Flacco has worked hard this summer to ensure he has a lock on the starting job, per the Ravens’ official Twitter account:
Baltimore Ravens @Ravens
.@weddlesbeard on Joe’s strong offseason and the new receivers. https://t.co/GjVYnBl4FE
While Griffin is unlikely to seriously challenge Flacco, the general expectation is for Jackson to replace Flacco in the future.
Baltimore traded back into the first round to select Jackson with the 32nd overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner left Louisville having thrown for 9,043 yards and 69 touchdowns while running for another 4,132 yards and 50 scores.
Flacco, meanwhile, is coming off an underwhelming 2017 season in which he threw for 3,141 yards, 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He ranked 32nd among qualified quarterbacks in DYAR (defense-adjusted yards above replacement), according to Football Outsiders.
Whereas Flacco’s contract cemented him as Baltimore’s starter in recent years, that won’t be the case for much longer. The Ravens can create $ 18.5 million in salary-cap space in 2019 if they designate him as a post-June 1 cut next summer. The move would also see the team carry $ 8 million in 2019 and 2020.
It’s far from a guarantee Baltimore would exercise that option, but the team will have more flexibility after the season if Flacco doesn’t show much improvement or if Jackson is ready to assume the starting role.
Should Flacco have a great 2018 campaign and get cut anyway, he will have positioned himself for a nice payday elsewhere in 2019.