There has been wide speculation the Ravens will cut ties with quarterback Joe Flacco after the next season or two to get some much-needed salary cap relief.
Those expectations are misguided, according to owner Steve Bisciotti.
At the “State of the Ravens” press conference this week, Bisciotti expressed confidence that Flacco has several more productive years left in him. The key this offseason is to surround him with better players.
Bisciotti scoffed at the notion the organization needs to start “thinking about life after Joe.”
“I think that you can think about life after Joe, but most of the franchise quarterbacks … I don’t know of any franchise quarterbacks that are retiring at 33, 34, 35 anymore – none of them. Eli [Manning] and Ben [Roethlisberger] and our friend up in New England [Tom Brady], they’re all staying [at] 35, 36, 37 – Drew Brees,” Bisciotti said. “We’ve got bigger fish to fry, I guess. I don’t consider that a big worry … We’re a long way off to have to worry about Joe, I think.”
Flacco had another uneven season, throwing for 3,141 yards with 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. His 80.4 quarterback rating was 25th in the league. Flacco missed all of training camp with an ailing back and that injury might have bothered him more than the team let on over the first six to eight weeks of the year.
“We had Joe throwing a week before the regular season game, and I think that we were conservative,” Bisciotti said. Referring to the offense in the early part of the season, he said, “if you want to call it boring, we probably were boring. Part of that was protecting Joe and getting the ball out quickly, and it showed up in some pretty ugly offensive numbers.
“But, what we saw in him when our offensive line solidified and he got more comfortable in the pocket … Obviously, if we could recreate the last half of the season, then I think we would maybe still be playing.”
Still, Flacco is 32 years old and has dealt with both knee and back injuries over the past three years. Coach John Harbaugh said the team would look into drafting a young quarterback this year, but Bisciotti said there are bigger needs to fill.
“We’re going to have to go back into the till,” he said.
Bisciotti also defended offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. He said Mornhinweg earned the right to return mainly because the Ravens were league’s second-leading scoring team over the second half of the season. Bisciotti also said Mornhinweg has developed a solid rapport with Flacco and that relationship will be beneficial to the overall production moving forward.
One reporter pointed out to Bisciotti the Ravens’ success came against “bad teams.” Bisciotti did not buy into that notion.
“Against bad teams? I didn’t know there were bad teams,” Bisciotti retorted. “But, I’ll take your word for it. We’ve gone through four offensive coordinators in the last five years, and Joe was comfortable with his relationship with Marty, and they produced in the second half of the year. So, when John [Harbaugh] wanted to keep him, then I backed him.”
In short, the Ravens plan to move forward with the core roster and coaches in place. Bisciotti vowed the team will add playmakers on offense to fill the gaps.
That’s the plan for better or worse.
The owner also was not about to give an ultimatum to Harbaugh and the rest of the staff if the team misses the playoffs for a fourth straight year. However, it’s obvious Bisciotti’s patience is wearing thin … just like the fans’.