The Ravens are parting ways with former franchise quarterback Joe Flacco, and they are hoping to trade him rather than release him and get nothing in return.
Whether the Ravens can find a trade partner for Flacco remains to be seen, but Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta believes there is a market for the 34-year-old Flacco.
"All it takes is just one team. If there's one team interested, yeah we'll probably trade him," DeCosta said. "If there's nobody interested, we'll have to make another decision.
"I will say this – this league craves quarterbacks. Joe Flacco has won a lot of games. He's one of the best pure passers in the NFL. Every year, coaches and GMs get fired because they don't have a good quarterback. We'll see how it all shakes out."
Opinions vary on whether the Ravens will be able to trade Flacco, with teams knowing Baltimore has no intention of carrying his salary on the books next season. However, teams interested in Flacco will take a chance if they don't trade for him, knowing he could land elsewhere.
Last year, the Washington Redskins sent cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick to the Chiefs for quarterback Alex Smith. A couple months later, the Browns traded a third-round pick to the Bills for Tyrod Taylor. In August, the Jets dealt Teddy Bridgewater to the Saints for a third-round pick.
Those three quarterbacks who were traded last year don't have Flacco's resume. A former Super Bowl MVP, Flacco has led the Ravens to the playoffs six times and has played some of his best football in clutch situations.
Wherever Flacco plays next season, he will undoubtedly be motivated to prove he has plenty left in the tank. Having not played since his midseason hip injury, Flacco has had plenty time of time to recover and heal. It's highly possible he could have at least two or three good seasons left. Starting quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, and Eli Manning are older the Flacco.
Meanwhile, the free agent quarterback market is slim. Nick Foles of the Philadelphia Eagles leads the group that also includes Bridgewater, Taylor, 36-year old Ryan Fitzpatrick and 39-year-old Josh McCown.
Baltimore can't trade Flacco until free agency begins on March 13, so there is plenty of time to plot strategy. When teams begin calling on Flacco, the Ravens will be well-prepared, and DeCosta will be ready to make one of his first significant moves as general manager – trading the most accomplished quarterback in franchise history.
"We'll have a lot of different ideas, strategies, things that we'll look at once March rolls around," DeCosta said. "Right now, we're really focused on the draft and on our free agency meetings, which will start to take place over the next couple of weeks.
"We have discussed Joe, we've discussed a lot of players on the team. When the time comes for us to make a decision one way or the other we'll have a plan in place."