The Baltimore Ravens are reportedly considering a major shake-up on offense, keeping Joe Flacco on the bench after the bye week and starting rookie Lamar Jackson in his place.
The Ravens have put themselves in a hole at 4-5 entering their bye week, and with Flacco ailing with a hip injury, the coaching staff believes it may be the perfect time for a change, CBS Sports reported. Flacco’s struggles play a major part in that, as he has thrown 12 touchdowns and six interceptions for a passer rating of 84.2, putting him at No. 26 in the NFL.
The report added that the Ravens had always intended to get Jackson some extended playing time this season, and the team’s slow start has accelerated those plans.
“Getting Jackson — who the Ravens traded back into the first round to draft in April — on the field for longer, more pronounced stretches was already one of the coaching staff’s priorities with the offense stumbling both on the ground and through the air, and few explosive playmakers on the offense.”
Lamar Jackson has already proven to be effective at moving the ball this season, CBS Sports noted, while Flacco has struggled behind the team’s porous offensive line. If the team’s playoff hopes continue to slip away, Jackson would be favored to gain the majority of playing time, the report added.
Flacco’s recent injury may help make the decision for the Ravens. As ESPN noted, the team is awaiting the diagnosis on a hip injury that has left Flacco in crutches. The report cited sources who said that Flacco is not only in danger of missing next week’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but also well beyond that.
There could be a financial incentive to the NFL rumors around the Baltimore Ravens. If Lamar Jackson could take over the starting role on a permanent basis, it would allow the Ravens to trade or release Flacco, saving $10 million in cap space going into next year. The longer Lamar Jackson would be able to play, the better the team could determine whether he is a potential long-term option at quarterback or if they will stick with Flacco — or possibly look again to the NFL draft.
If the NFL rumors are true, then Lamar Jackson would be joining a 2018 draft class that has seen plenty of time behind center. Other top quarterbacks selected — including Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen — have already moved into starting roles for their teams.