Late for Work 1/31: Here's the Framework for a Joe Flacco Trade

013119-LFW-Flacco-Trade

Here's the Framework for a Joe Flacco Trade

Eric DeCosta said yesterday that the Ravens' approach to handling Joe Flacco this offseason is "like playing chess."

There are a lot of moving pieces and, as DeCosta said, "you need different options." The checkmate option, without a doubt, is trading Flacco. But what does that look like?

We heard from multiple pundits a couple days ago in Late for Work about whether they believe DeCosta and the Ravens will be able to pull off a trade, and how much they could expect in return.

Yesterday, ESPN's Mike Sando took a crack at outlining three blockbuster NFL trades that could happen this offseason, and Flacco made the list under the category of "one conventional trade that might not make sense upon inspection."

In Sando's deal, the Ravens would send Flacco and a fifth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a third-round pick in 2019.

"Some see Jacksonville as an ideal fit for a veteran quarterback with a Super Bowl pedigree, but would the Jaguars be getting a big upgrade over Blake Bortles?" Sando wrote.

It's just my opinion, but the answer to that last question seems like an obvious yes.

"Flacco has been steadier than Bortles and much less prone to disaster games," Sando wrote. "The Jaguars might decide they simply need a change for change's sake. Flacco is not great, but he is not Bortles, which could be an important part of the equation."

The Jaguars have an extra third-round pick after trading pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr. to the Rams. Jacksonville doesn't have a fifth-round pick. The Ravens don't have a second-round draft pick after trading up to get Lamar Jackson, but would have two third-rounders (and maybe a third via a compensatory pick) after this proposed trade.

Sando writes that one executive he spoke to said he thought the Ravens could get a third- or fourth-round pick for Flacco. Other veteran quarterbacks with more injury history and/or less accomplishments fetched a higher return in previous years.

But Sando points out that the league may be trending in the wrong direction for the Ravens to get value in return for Flacco.

"Maybe now things will trend toward teams without the top QBs getting the young quarterback and spending money elsewhere," a personnel director said. "Everybody is seeing Matt Nagy and Sean McVay taking early drafted quarterbacks, less expensive guys, and winning with them. Maybe other teams will change their strategies."

Then again, this year's quarterback draft class isn't considered to be as strong as those in years past, and for teams built to win now (aka Jacksonville), they may not want to wait on a rookie to develop.

"All it takes is just one team," DeCosta said yesterday. "If there's one team interested, yeah, we'll probably trade him."

Ravens' Trade up for Lamar Jackson Among Best of 2018

While we're on the topic of trades, ESPN's Bill Barnwell graded the top 30 trades of 2018, and the Ravens' move to grab quarterback Lamar Jackson with the final pick of the first round received high marks.

Barnwell put Baltimore's trade at No. 7. To review, the Ravens got pick No. 32 and No. 132 (fourth round) from Philadelphia in exchange for pick No. 52, No. 124 (fourth round) and a 2019 second-round selection.

"After years of watching Joe Flacco flirt with mediocrity, Ravens fans had to be delighted when general manager Ozzie Newsome traded up in his final draft before retirement to grab a new quarterback," Barnwell wrote. "Lamar Jackson spent the first half of the year as a part-time player, but when Flacco went down with a hip injury, the Ravens pushed Jackson into the lineup and reaped the benefits."

Overall, Barnwell gave the move a B+ grade.

I'm at a loss, however, for how it ranked below the Redskins' trade for quarterback Alex Smith last year. Jackson had a better regular-season record (6-1) than Smith (6-3). While Jackson is beginning a new era in Baltimore, Smith's NFL future is now in doubt after a gruesome knee/leg injury.

The other trades that ranked higher than the Ravens' for Jackson were: No. 5 – Patriots get OT Trent Brown, No. 4 – Rams get WR Brandin Cooks, No. 3 – Jets trade up for QB Sam Darnold, No. 2 – Cowboys trade for Amari Cooper, and No. 1 – Bears trade for Khalil Mack.

The Ravens' trade back from the No. 16-overall pick in last year's draft (they moved back six spots to No. 22 and swapped a fifth-round pick for a third-rounder) ranked as the 15th best trade – for the Bills. Buffalo drafted versatile linebacker Tremaine Edmunds.

Wide Receiver Ranks Atop Ravens' Offseason Needs (Again)

The everlasting offseason conversation about wide receivers will likely continue this year, as Baltimore has several questions at the position.

Will unrestricted free agent John Brown return? Will Michael Crabtree be a salary-cap casualty? What about Willie Snead IV? Can a young player be counted on to step up and emerge? What kind of wide receiver best fits Jackson and the retooled offense?

Penn Live's Aaron Kasinitz ranked the Ravens' biggest needs from one to 14 and put wide receivers at the top, just like they were last year before a complete overhaul.

"It seems fitting the Ravens bring a new general manager and quarterback into this offseason and are still searching for top-tier pass catchers," Kasinitz wrote.

"To successfully build around Jackson, Baltimore must surround him with playmakers. John Brown can test the free agent market and the Ravens can save more than $4.5 in cap space by cutting Michael Crabtree. Willie Snead should keep his role in the slot, but beyond that, DeCosta has his work cut out for him."

Kasinitz's top five needs, in order, were wide receiver, offensive guard, outside linebacker, defensive end and center. Check out the full article for the rest.

Quick Hits

  • The Alliance of American Football, founded by film producer Charlie Ebersol and Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian, kicks off Feb. 9 with a bunch of former Ravens including quarterback Josh Woodrum, safety Will Hill, cornerback Will Davis and more.

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