OK, so the above tweet may be a bit over the top – and when it comes the specific draft picks, people are going to disagree, as beauty is in the eye of the beholder – but, clearly the Ravens had a plan and executed it well. They traded down twice, which ultimately allowed them to be comfortable with trading back up to the last pick of the 1st round.
So, now the fates of Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson are now pretty much in Joe Flacco’s hands. If Flacco plays well this coming season, he earns the continuation of his contract in 2019 – either here or with a team he’s traded to. If not, Flacco is likely released next offseason. If so, the Ravens would either (1) take all of the $16M in dead money at once in 2019 and save $10.5M in Cap space in 2019 or (2) do a post-June 1 release and save $18.5M in Cap in 2019, but push $8M in dead money into 2020.
Keep in mind that with a post-June 1 release, the Cap savings isn’t available until after June 1st, but team can budget accordingly & spend to Cap knowing that $18.5M will be coming available. The team would also likely budget to carry over $8M of that to cover the dead $ pushed into 2020.
There’s no ability to do a post-June 1 designation for trades before June 1st, so if Flacco is traded in ‘19 the Ravens would likely have to take the entire $16M in dead money in ‘19 (w/ $10.5M in Cap savings) because teams aren’t likely to want to wait until after June 1 to make a trade for a QB. Of course, it remains to be seen if there will be a market for him.
That said, getting Jackson in the 1st round gives the Ravens some leeway to not rush anything because of the 5th round option. Heck, Jackson could even sit for two years if Flacco plays well and then still start for three years before having to commit big money to him.
For example, the 5th year option for QBs this year was just $14M, which was $9M less than the franchise tag.
Whatever the numbers are in 2022, the benefit of having the 5th year option is huge and gives the Ravens a little more time to work thru the Flacco/Jackson decision.
So, even keeping Flacco in 2019 isn’t out of the question if he plays well in 2018. The Ravens should be in much better Cap shape next offseason to continue carrying his large cap charge and there are several veterans on pricey contracts who may well be released (Weddle, Jimmy Smith, Carr). Those three alone would create $21M in Cap savings.
Because of that, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Ravens draft a safety or cornerback in the next two days. Also, this was why I was a bit surprised that they passed on Derwin James, but obviously they had a plan to trade back & take the TE of their choosing & be able to move back up if the right player fell.
So, keeping Flacco in 2019 isn’t out of the question, and this is where Jackson’s 5th yr option is so key. They possibly could have traded up today to #35-38, paid less & still nabbed Jackson, but it would be just a four-yr deal, so there would be more urgency to start the Jackson era.