When a veteran player sits unsigned on the open market well into the summer, the prevailing sentiment is that they’ll simply have to wait until injuries strike in training camp.
It’s only ever a matter of time in a sport as physical as football, after all.
For the most polarizing player of the year, and perhaps the most controversial free-agent case the NFL has ever seen, that circumstance may have taken shape faster than anyone expected.
News that Joe Flacco is dealing with a back issue, and the series of conflicting reports indicating he could miss anywhere from one to six weeks, suddenly has Baltimore entering training camp with a need at the most important position on the field.
Flacco returning on the short side of the estimated timelines would, of course, ease concerns about his status heading into the regular season. And even if he’s out the full six weeks, it’s still possible he’d suit up for Week 1.
But finding someone to fill in during his absence is just one small part of the equation.
Back injuries, as any
athlete human can attest, are no joke. That feeling all Ravens fans had upon hearing the news is a clear reminder of just how much a team’s season depends upon the quarterback.
Would Baltimore really be comfortable turning to Ryan Mallett in the event that Flacco is held out longer than expected? How about if he were to suffer some sort of setback midseason? Only those within the organization know the real answer to those questions. Those on the outside know exactly what the answers should be.
It just so happens, here in the latest of offseason stages, that another starting-caliber quarterback is waiting in the wings. And given that he’s had just one visit this offseason, it’s safe to assume his price tag would be nothing more than a flier contract.
Signing Kaepernick would give the Ravens the perfect replacement for however long Flacco ends up on the sidelines, and the ideal insurance policy for when he returns. For those already preparing to reference the good ol’ “scheme fit” argument, consider the finer points of this situation.
Greg Roman, a senior offensive assistant and tight ends coach, was the offensive coordinator in San Francisco when Kaepernick was torching defenses en route to a Super Bowl appearance. The all-important familiarity is there.
We’re also talking about an offense that, with question marks all over the field, wouldn’t do a thing without Flacco. Making opposing defenses account for Kaepernick’s ability in the running game, and effectively creating a numbers advantage up front, would go a long way toward keeping the unit afloat if need be.
So, will the Ravens make the call? If the ridiculous stance all NFL teams (including Baltimore) took throughout the offseason can be taken as any indication, perhaps we shouldn’t bet on it.
But if this organization wants to cover all its bases in an effort to get back to the postseason, getting a bona fide starter to provide insurance for a now-concerning quarterback situation is a no-brainer.
A reasonable argument can even be made that Kaepernick would be the most talented quarterback on the Ravens’ roster, even when Flacco is healthy. We’ll leave that one for another day, though.
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