The uneasiness for Ravens fans in the offseason of 2023 has them wondering what kind of team they can expect, not just in September but for years after. Those who wish to place futures bets with Maryland sportsbooks might well wonder the same thing.
The complexity of quarterback Lamar Jackson’s situation makes it impossible for team followers to even begin to handicap the future of the 2019 MVP who looked to be the franchise’s quarterback for at least a decade and possibly more.
With the NFL draft looming on April 27-29 in Kansas City, the normal course of NFL events would present outcome as follows: Jackson signs the non-exclusive tender offer ($32.4 million) that Baltimore has on the table, or he gets a better contract offer elsewhere that Baltimore either matches or doesn’t (and receives two-first rounders), or Baltimore trades him.
Complexities of Jackson Contract Situation
Clearly, any team entertaining signing Jackson is dealing with the same issues Baltimore faces – not just the numbers on a contract but whether the money is guaranteed, as is the deal that Cleveland gave quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Usually, such blockbuster trades in the NFL come on the eve of the draft or during it. That could still be the case if Jackson is traded. But it’s just as likely the teams considering a major move for a quarterback will wait to see how their own Draft Day works out before talking trade.
All of the uncertainly might lead to trepidation among oddsmakers – as of Wednesday morning, the Ravens are +2500 at BetMGM Maryland Sportsbook to win the Super Bowl in February 2024.
Will Ravens Take QB in 2023 NFL Draft?
The drama over Jackson’s contract does bring into question whether the Ravens will find themselves pressed into drafting a quarterback later this month.
If so, a look back over the Ravens draft history reveals an interesting legacy, and one perhaps worth remembering for customers at Maryland sports betting apps.
Since the franchise emerged in Baltimore as a hybrid expansion team after leaving Cleveland, the Ravens have selected 13 quarterbacks in 27 drafts. Despite the team’s vaunted overall drafting success – their first two picks ever, tackle Jonathan Ogden and linebacker Ray Lewis, have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame – most of the Ravens’ drafted QBs played very little, and some not at all, for Baltimore.
However, two turned out to be worthy of being called franchise quarterbacks, and since a team expects to have a franchise QB starting for a decade or more, maybe two out of 27 drafts isn’t so bad.
Here’s a look back on some of the Ravens drafted quarterbacks.
What Ravens QB Draft History Reveals
The first ever, in the same 1996 draft that netted Ogden and Lewis, was seventh-rounder Jon Stark, who attended three colleges. Stark was reportedly already injured when he showed up with the Ravens, and never played in the NFL.
In 2000, veteran QB Trent Dilfer, in his lone season with the Ravens, coaxed the defense-led team to a Super Bowl XXXV title. The Ravens thought they had drafted a quarterback of the future, Chris Redman, in the third round, but he wound up only being notable as one of the quarterbacks selected before Tom Brady that year.
In 2003, the Ravens used a first-round pick on a quarterback for the first time, taking Kyle Boller 19th overall. The story goes that Boller impressed scouts with his arm strength throwing from his knees, but he was less impressive throwing from the pocket as an NFL starter. The collection of drafted QBs in the 2000s included players who either played sparingly (Josh Harris) or were career journeymen (Derek Anderson).
Finally in 2008, Baltimore struck gold, using the No. 18 pick overall to land Joe Flacco. In his 11 seasons as a Raven, Flacco became the franchise’s all-time leader in every passing category, had a 96-67 record as a starter in the regular season, was 10-5 starting in the playoffs, and was the MVP as the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII.
The Lamar Jackson Era Begins
In 2018, the Ravens spent another first-round selection (No. 32 overall) on his replacement, Jackson. The former Heisman Trophy winner at Louisville almost immediately paid dividends, winning the league MVP in his dazzling second season in 2019. Unlike Flacco, however, playoff success has eluded him, so far.
The Ravens’ situation is particularly problematic because they’ve built their offense around Jackson and the overriding strategy that they are a running team. They will enter 2023 with new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. He replaces Greg Roman, who resigned after last season and was noted for his commitment to the run.
Another Possible Ravens Draft Priority
While the Ravens have typically had productive drafts, one position where they have whiffed consistently is wide receiver. It’s fully expected that WR will be an area of draft concentration, regardless of who winds up being the quarterback.
At DraftKings Maryland Sportsbook, former Ohio State star Jaxon Smith-Njigba is the favorite to be the first receiver drafted this month, with -220 odds.
Taking a wide receiver with the team’s first-round pick (No. 22) or perhaps taking even more WRs later might signal that the Ravens are committed to getting Jackson the receiving help he has lacked.
Still another factor is Jackson’s durability, which is called into question because he has missed 11 games over the past two seasons at the most critical times, including last season’s playoffs.
Jackson’s record as a starter is a spectacular 45-16. Then again, his record in the playoffs is 1-3. All of the above make up the knot of conundrums everyone who features Jackson playing in their jersey has to face, and that also includes the Ravens.
Usually, the draft would be a reliable moment to find closure on a sticky situation such as Jackson’s contract, but given the complexities, Ravens fans can’t even count on that.
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