After playing meaningful snaps in 2020, Trace McSorley and Tyler Huntley can look forward to a backup quarterback competition this offseason.
General Manager Eric DeCosta expects McSorley and Huntley to battle for the No. 2 spot behind Lamar Jackson. That does not mean the Ravens won't consider signing a more experienced backup after releasing Robert Griffin III earlier this month. However, McSorley and Huntley both stepped in and played with confidence when called upon, and the Ravens look forward to seeing both young quarterbacks develop.
"Honestly, based on what we saw this year with Trace and with Huntley, we were impressed," DeCosta said. "We think both guys have a legitimate chance to compete for that backup position. It doesn't mean that we won't go after a veteran quarterback, but we think both those guys have pretty bright futures, and we see a good competition this year.
"Let's not forget that we had no preseason games last year, and those games are critical for young quarterbacks to play in. We are very optimistic that those guys, with a really, really good, normal offseason, with some preseason games, will have a chance to really flourish and be that guy for Lamar."
McSorley saw action in two games in 2020, and both appearances came in key spots. With Jackson on the Reserve/COVID-19 list for a Week 12 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, McSorley provided a spark during the fourth quarter of a 19-14 loss. The 2019 sixth-round draft pick from Penn State led the Ravens' final two drives after Griffin left with a hamstring injury. With Baltimore trailing, 19-7, McSorley engineered a five-play, 84-yard drive in 32 seconds, capped by Marquise "Hollywood" Brown's 70-yard catch-and-run, the first touchdown pass of McSorley's career.
McSorley's final appearance came in a dramatic 47-42 victory over the Cleveland Browns in Week 14. After Jackson went to the locker room with cramps in the fourth quarter, McSorley entered the game with Baltimore leading, 34-28. His first drive was a three-and-out that resulted in a punt. But after Cleveland took a 35-34 lead on its next drive, McSorley completed a 13-yard pass to Willie Snead IV for a first down, and the Ravens drove into Cleveland territory.
McSorley never got to finish the drive, suffering a season-ending knee injury when he was sacked by Myles Garrett before the two-minute warning. On the next play, Jackson made a Superman-like return from the locker room and connected with Brown for a 44-yard touchdown pass, one of the most memorable moments of the season. However, McSorley showed poise before his injury, and those two late-season appearances will give him confidence heading into the offseason.
Huntley also showed his talent when he played the entire fourth quarter of the 17-3 playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills. After Lamar Jackson left with a concussion on the final play of the third quarter, Huntley scrambled for 19 yards on his first play, introducing the Bills to his speed. Later in the game, he coolly moved in the pocket to buy extra time, then rifled a 29-yard completion to Brown on third-and-16.
That final drive of the season stalled in the red zone, but Huntley showed his playmaking potential, just as he did during the regular season when he excited his teammates during mop-up duty against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Huntley started training camp as an undrafted prospect from Utah and advanced from the practice squad, to the gameday roster, to playing in the fourth quarter of a playoff game. Teammates have seen him make impressive plays during practice, and his rookie season was a success by any measure.
"Obviously, we all have a lot of trust in 'Snoop' – Tyler – and he's been doing his thing for a while now," tight end Mark Andrews said. "You saw the way he stepped in and drove us down the field in, basically, that two-minute-type drive; he was doing his thing. He's got a ton of heart, and he's able to learn behind a guy like Lamar Jackson – the best at what he does – and there's nothing better than that. He's soaking it all in."
For Huntley and McSorley, the 2020 season revealed how they respond to pressure situations, and DeCosta liked what he saw.
"Both of those two young guys are smart, they're accurate passers, they're athletic, they're hungry," DeCosta said. "They've been successful college players, and when they've played, they've shown the ability to really be a backup quarterback in the NFL and help us."