The 2016 season is in the rear-view mirror for every team other than the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons who will meet this weekend in Super Bowl LI. With that in mind, now is the time to look back on how players performed in 2016 and their outlook moving forward. Today, we will examine quarterbacks.
2016 Depth Chart
Starter: Joe Flacco
Backup: Ryan Mallett
Like they typically do, the Ravens had just two quarterbacks on their active roster in 2016. Joe Flacco was making his return from a major knee injury, yet he finished second in the league in pass attempts with 672. For the first time in Flacco’s career, he topped 4,000 yards (4,317), but 2016 was largely considered a down season for the ninth-year pro. Overall, Flacco finished with 22 touchdowns (20 passing, 2 rushing) and 15 interceptions, as well as three lost fumbles. Admittedly, he needs to play at a higher level to get Baltimore back to the postseason in 2017.
Fortunately, the Ravens did not have to turn to their backup for any extended time since Flacco was able to stay healthy. Ryan Mallett only attempted six passes this season after starting two games in 2015. In his six attempts, Mallett registered three completions for 26 yards with a pick.
Pending Free Agents
Ryan Mallett is a free agent heading into 2017. Mallett nearly lost his job to Josh Johnson during the 2016 preseason, but Baltimore stuck with the sixth-year veteran. If he is willing to remain a backup on an inexpensive deal, it would not be shocking for Mallett to continue in purple in black. However, he may wish to pursue a starting role or more lucrative deal elsewhere.
If the Ravens do not re-sign Mallett, they could be in the market for a late-round quarterback similar to Tyrod Taylor, who backed up Flacco for four years. Folks who are disgruntled with Flacco’s performance are screaming for Baltimore to look at a QB earlier in the draft, but it is unrealistic to think Ozzie Newsome and Company will go that route. It is also unlikely that the Ravens will be looking to start grooming Flacco’s eventual replacement as he is only in his 10th season.
The only guarantee in 2017 is that Joe Flacco will be the starting QB. At this point, it seems more likely that Baltimore will opt to draft a backup in the 5th or 6th round rather than go for a more expensive veteran option. Small school prospect Antonio Pipkin of Tiffin is an intriguing option, but he had a poor showing in the Senior Bowl. The Ravens already added 26-year-old Dustin Vaughan to the practice squad to provide depth, but he probably will not crack the 53-man roster. With any luck, Baltimore will solidify their offensive line, add some big play makers on offense, and keep Joe Flacco healthy. If those things happen, there is no reason why the Ravens cannot have a stellar 2017 offensively.