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Ravens Want Ryan Mallett Back, But Keeping An Eye On Backup QB Market


The Ravens know who their starting quarterback will be next season, but they're again on the hunt for a No. 2.

Ryan Mallett, who backed up Joe Flacco in 2016 and part of 2015, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in a week. While the Ravens would like to retain Mallett, they're also keeping an eye on the quarterback market.

"Ryan is not under contract right now, so we're talking to Ryan. We want Ryan back, and there are other veteran guys out there," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine.

"We need a quality backup quarterback."

The Ravens signed Mallett in mid-December of 2015 after Flacco went down with a season-ending knee injury. Baltimore originally went with veteran backup Matt Schaub, but gave Mallett the final two starts of the season. He beat the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium in his first game as a Raven.

Like most of Flacco's backups over the past nine years, Mallett went back to the bench last year. He saw action in just four games and attempted six passes (three completions, 50 yards, one interception).

Mallett, 28, had a reported base salary of $1.5 million last season, per Spotrac.

Backup quarterbacks have become very important in the NFL considering the frequency of injuries to starters. The Ravens have often employed a veteran behind Flacco, though they drafted and groomed Buffalo Bills starter Tyrod Taylor for four years (2011-2014).

The Ravens have also had Marc Bulger, Schaub and Josh Johnson on the team at various points over the past several years.

Among the pending veteran free agent quarterbacks are Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, Case Keenum, Shaun Hill, Schaub, E.J. Manuel, Blaine Gabbert, Matt Cassel, Mark Sanchez, Brian Hoyer and more. The Ravens are familiar with Fitzpatrick, McCown and Keenum from playing against them in recent years.

McCown stepped in for injured Browns starter Robert Griffin III in Week 3 last season and lost, 25-20, after throwing a game-sealing interception to linebacker C.J. Mosley. In 2015, however, McCown threw for a staggering 457 yards in a 33-30 win in Baltimore.

Fitzpatrick rallied the New York Jets to a win over Baltimore in Week 7 last season after stepping in for injured Geno Smith. As a member of the Texans in 2014, Keenum came out of nowhere to beat the Ravens, 25-13, in Houston.

Baltimore could also opt to draft a quarterback and develop him, similar to what it did with Taylor. That likely wouldn't be with a pick in the first two days of the draft, but could be a later-round selection. The Ravens grabbed Taylor in the sixth round in 2011.

"The draft will definitely be part of that," Harbaugh said of searching for a backup.

Speaking of Taylor, there's debate about whether he will remain in the Bills' long-term plans as their starting quarterback under new Head Coach Sean McDermott. Taylor has a reported $27.5 million roster bonus due on March 11. Harbaugh worked with McDermott in Philadelphia, and the two are friends.

The Ravens faced off against Taylor and the Bills in Week 1 last season, holding him to 15-of-22 passing for 111 yards and no touchdowns. Taylor ran five times for 11 yards.

Taylor went on to finish the season with 3,023 yards passing, 17 touchdowns, six interceptions, 580 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.

"I don't think Sean would mind me saying that I just have a lot of respect for Tyrod Taylor," Harbaugh said. "He was a guy that was with us for four years and every single day with Tyrod Taylor was just a joy to be around him. Smart. Tough. Studious. Always prepared. Talented.

"Tyrod can throw the ball and he also can make plays with his feet. I know this: When you play against him and you have to defend him, you have to have all hands on deck. And to me, that's part of what makes a quarterback effective."

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