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Six logical teams for Ravens' Joe Flacco in 2019 as his time in Baltimore winds to a close

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 12/12/2018 Nate Davis

a baseball player holding a bat: Ravens QB Joe Flacco seems likely to be wearing a new uniform in 2019. © Provided by USA Today Sports Media Group LLC Ravens QB Joe Flacco seems likely to be wearing a new uniform in 2019. The writing had been on the wall for months, had come into stark relief in recent weeks and was read aloud by coach John Harbaugh on Wednesday.

The Joe Flacco chapter in Baltimore is, for all intents and purposes, closed.

This day had been inevitable ever since the Ravens selected quarterback Lamar Jackson with the final pick of the first round in April's draft. And when Flacco's merely adequate play and subsequent hip injury created an opportunity for Jackson to start, the rookie ran with it — literally and figuratively — on the way to three wins in four weeks, a stretch that revitalized the squad and has them poised to overtake Pittsburgh for the AFC North lead. 

Jackson is now, officially,  the man.

But whither Flacco, whose future is obviously elsewhere?

His contract runs through the 2021 season, his subsequent base salaries — which average $21 million per year — of the non-guaranteed variety. Flacco is a patented playoff performer (10-5 in games that matter most) and famously carried Baltimore with his money-making, title-minting hot streak to cap the 2012 season — an effort that culminated with his Super Bowl XLVII MVP trophy.

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From a durability standpoint, Flacco's iron man days are evidently behind him. He blew out a knee during the 2015 season, missed training camp last year with a bad back and is now dealing with that hip.

But given the stratospheric salary scale for quarterbacks, the price could be right for an organization with sufficient playmakers to surround Flacco — and, at this stage, that should include a solid running game and a better-than-serviceable left tackle to safeguard a 33-year-old who generally presents a rather inviting target to opposing pass rushers.

Given those parameters — and based on current information and an assumption Flacco will pursue opportunities to start — the following teams appear like logical landing spots, ranked from least ideal to most, for "Joe Cool" in 2019:

6. Oakland Raiders

This scenario requires the biggest leap ... though maybe it's only a skip given how Jon Gruden is offloading ousted general manager Reggie McKenzie's players. But if Derek Carr is next to walk the plank, Flacco wouldn't be a bad alternative for a franchise that would be seeking a young replacement while simultaneously requiring a steady presence in the interim ... especially if the Silver & Black become football football nomads in 2019.

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5. Miami Dolphins

Flacco would probably represent a lateral move, though might prove more reliable than enigmatic and injury-prone Ryan Tannehill. Head coach Adam Gase has repeatedly shown his offense can excel no matter how varied the skill set of his quarterback, though a marriage with Flacco has the potential to be mutually beneficial given the carousel of offensive coordinators he's had to adapt to in Baltimore.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jameis Winston is the only quarterback they have under contract in 2019, however — barring an injury to the No. 1 pick in 2015 — the Bucs might decide they don't want to pay $21 million next year to someone who's violated their trust off and on the field. This isn't to suggest Flacco is a guy you rebuild around. But given what Ryan Fitzpatrick managed with this supporting cast, Flacco might do an even better job armed with talented playmakers and could capably hold the fort for a few years if Tampa Bay opts to replace Winston in the 2019 draft.

3. New York Giants

Perhaps rumors of Eli Manning's demise have been exaggerated in light of his inspired play over the past five weeks. Still, it seems doubtful the Giants will bypass another opportunity to draft a top quarterback ... and an open question as to how Manning would adapt to being a lame duck if there was an opportunity to go to, say, Jacksonville. Flacco clearly wasn't thrilled when the Ravens opted for Jackson, but at least he'd be accustomed to such an arrangement if Manning were to leave and New York brought him in as a stopgap. Odell Beckham might even prefer Flacco's big arm given how many balls Manning has left at his feet in 2018. A New Jersey native, Flacco has an unflappable personality that would suit him well in the New York market. 

2. Washington Redskins

Suddenly a big unknown, but concerns about Alex Smith's broken leg suggest it's reasonable to expect the 'Skins could be back in the market for a veteran passer. Flacco would only have to move about an hour down the road and might integrate seamlessly to an outfit that fields a solid defense, has the makings of an outstanding O-line and could have a breakout star in the backfield next year — assuming second-round back Derrius Guice is mostly recovered from the ACL injury he suffered in August.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

With the Blake Bortles era now entering its final throes, this team is sure to be linked to any number of capable passers who could restore the 2017 AFC finalists to immediate credibility. Flacco doesn't provide Bortles' mobility, but he's less likely to dirt balls to open receivers or throw backbreaking interceptions. Flacco has a sharp wit and good self-awareness, yet doesn't crave the limelight nor seems to feel the need to issue rah-rah locker room speeches. That demeanor could make him uniquely suited for a talented roster that already has its share of quote machines and attention seekers. 

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Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Six logical teams for Ravens' Joe Flacco in 2019 as his time in Baltimore winds to a close


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