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Best of the Best: The case for Joe Flacco


Best of the Best: The case for Joe Flacco

In our ongoing Best of the Best series, Bo Smolka makes a case for each of the four semifinalists. 

Joe Flacco -- where to start? First of all, he's not Kyle Boller.

Seriously, though, the fortunes of the Ravens franchise changed in 2008 when the Ravens, after a bit of draft-day gymnastics that included two first-round trades, ended up at No. 18 and selected tall, strong-armed Flacco out of the University of Delaware. 

Debate continues to rage nationally about where Flacco stands among his quarterback peers -- nothing lights up talk shows quite like asking 'Is Flacco elite?' -- but all Flacco has done is win games. 

Flacco, who already owns many of the Ravens most significant passing records, has led the Ravens to the playoffs six times in seven years. He's won 72 regular-season games, the most ever by a quarterback in his first seven seasons. 

Counting the playoffs, Flacco has a career record of 82-45. Since 2008, when Flacco entered the league, no quarterback has won more. Not Tom Brady (81), not Peyton Manning (78), not Aaron Rodgers (76). Granted, they have not played as many, but then again, Flacco's durability has been one of the keys to his success; Flacco has not missed a start in his career.

Flacco has been at his best on the biggest stages. He has won seven road playoff games, the most by any quarterback in NFL history, and his 10 playoff wins since 2008 also are the most in the  league in that span.

Flacco's run to the Super Bowl title in the 2012 season was one for the ages. In the Ravens four-game playoff run that season, Flacco threw 11 touchdowns and no interceptions, a feat matched in postseason history by only one other player: Hall of Famer Joe Montana. After that performance, Flacco joined Ray Lewis as the only Ravens named Super Bowl MVP.

And without a doubt, Flacco's blue-collar approach resonates with fans in the blue-collar city by the bay. This was, after all, a guy who said he was at a family pizza party when negotiations on his new, nine-figure contract were completed, and who celebrated signing the contract by stopping at a McDonalds drive-through on the way home.

MORE RAVENS: Best of the Best: The case for Ray Lewis

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed WR Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Shefter.

After being released by the Raiders Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers WR Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

The most obvious move in the NFL this offseason was the Ravens signing a new wide receiver (or three). It was less obvious why the team decided to commit so much money to former Redskins receiver Ryan Grant.

Grant has long been beloved by his coaches and teammates, but the results have never been there on game day. He has some potential to improve if given a larger role in a team's offense, which he likely would have had in Baltimore, but it never made much sense to offer him a 4-year contract worth nearly 30 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed.

Thankfully for fans who were uninspired by the reported agreement, Grant was unable to pass his physical and will not be joining the team.


At a press conference Friday morning, GM Ozzie Newsome called the void a "medical decision" that Newsome had no control over. 

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Grant is recovering from a Grade 2 sprained ankle that would need two months rest.

You have to feel for Grant, who by all accounts has worked his tail off for many years just waiting for his chance. It's never easy missing out on nearly $15 million dollars guaranteed, but Grant should be able to find work with another team.

The timing of this news, coming so soon after former Raider Michael Crabtree became available, seemed fishy to some.

At Friday's press conference, Newsome also said the team would have still pursued Crabtree if they signed Grant. 

It's probably not fair to suggest that an NFL franchise would actually so publicly back out of a deal just because another option came along, as any team with that reputation would struggle to attract future free agents. That said, it could end up working out splendidly for the team.

Besides, if all else is equal, shouldn't a team located in Baltimore be going after a guy named CRABtree?