It's clear that coming off a 5-11 season, the Ravens have some tough decisions to make regarding their 2016 roster. To be sure, injuries were a huge part of the story this past season, but there figures to be significant roster turnover after one of the worst seasons in team history. And as always, the salary cap will have a major influence on how the Ravens go about constructing their 2016 roster.
Over the past two weeks, we have been examining each Ravens position group with an eye toward 2016. Who stays? Who goes? Today we conclude our look at the offense with the quarterbacks.
Note: For the purpose of this discussion, we will limit the roster to those players on the final 53-man roster and injured reserve. (Here is a more thorough explanation of free agency terminology.)
Under contract: Joe Flacco, Ryan Mallett
Unrestricted free agents: Jimmy Clausen, Matt Schaub
Restricted free agents: None
Exclusive rights free agents: None
Joe Flacco will be back as the Ravens starting quarterback next season; the huge question is, what will his contract look like?
At the moment, Flacco has a cap hit of more than $28 million. At the "State of the Ravens" news conference, general manager Ozzie Newsome suggested the Ravens would be prepared to build a roster around that whopping figure, but no one expects that to be the case.
The Ravens and Flacco will work to renegotiate a deal that will lower Flacco's cap figure for this year (and next, which at the moment is north of $31 million), freeing up money to address their other pressing roster needs. This has always been priority No. 1 for this offseason.
There is still the question of when Flacco will be fully recovered from the torn ACL that cost him the final six games of the 2015 season, the first games he's missed in his eight-year career.
While Flacco rehabilitates, it appears Ryan Mallett will be the team's No. 1 quarterback through OTAs and into training camp after stepping into that role late last season. As long as he avoids the immaturity and disciplinary issues that derailed his career in Houston, Mallett offers the Ravens a veteran, viable starter until Flacco is ready and a capable backup once Flacco returns.
With those two under contract, there's no need to bring back either Jimmy Clausen or Matt Schaub, although Clausen, who has history with offensive coordinator Marc Trestman and played capably in two starts, could come back as a training camp arm. As for Schaub, it's a safe bet he's thrown his last pass -- and pick-six -- as a Raven.
Depending on Flacco's health, this might be one of those rare years the Ravens break camp with three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. Expect Flacco and Mallett to be atop the quarterback depth chart, with plenty of low-budget competition to earn the No. 3 spot.
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