Barring some unforeseen measures, Joe Flacco is destined to be available this off-season as his time with the Baltimore Ravens appears to be over as first-round pick Lamar Jackson has taken over the starting quarterback position. Meanwhile, the Washington Redskins may be in the market for a quarterback next season as Alex Smith faces a long road to recovery from his compound fracture in his leg.
The two separate instances are perfect timing for Las Vegas, as odds makers give the Redskins the best odds to land Flacco for 2019.
Flacco was on borrowed time in Baltimore the minute the Ravens traded back into the first round of April’s NFL Draft and selected Jackson with the 32nd overall pick. Flacco had been unable through the years to recreate the magic he possessed during his improbable Super Bowl run in 2012.
When he suffered a hip injury that forced him to miss four games, it gave the opening for the Ravens to see what they drafted in Jackson. Jackson flourished and so did the Ravens, turning around their season that started off at 4-5 with Flacco by winning four of the last five games. With Flacco healthy, the team has opted to stick to Jackson, and a report suggested that Baltimore is prepared to move on from Flacco after 11 seasons.
The Redskins are facing a difficult adjustment time after deciding to separate from Kirk Cousins after three seasons of contract purgatory, and two franchise tags. The team traded for Smith, costing them a high-ceiling cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick to Kansas City.
Smith struggled much of the season, but his ability to prevent costly mistakes that lead to turnovers, the Redskins rallied behind his safe passing, a strong run game, and a overachieving defense to jump out to a 6-3 record. Unfortunately, their success came to screeching halt as Smith suffered a compound fracture on a sack in a Week 11 game against Houston, breaking his fibula and tibia.
Smith required surgery, however, an post-op infection led to multiple additional surgeries and a hospital stay that lasted over a month. The unfortunate circumstances have put his career in more doubt, leaving the Redskins in a peculiar situation at quarterback.
With Smith signing a four-year extension immediately following the trade, the Redskins are on the hook for $71 million in guarantees that complicates their salary cap that was already limited.
Smith’s contract and cap hits of a guaranteed $20.4 million in 2019 and almost certain $21.4 million in 2020 leaves the Redskins with limited options at paying high stakes money for another starting quarterback. Flacco carries a $26.5 million cap hit in 2019, however, Baltimore can release him and save $10.5 million against the cap or they can trade his contract.
Any acquiring team will have another potential out before the 2020 season that would save them over $20 million against the cap.
It remains to be seen if there will be interest on the trade market for Flacco. His 2019 cap hit might not be all that enticing for a would-be 34-year old quarterback even with a potential out in 2020.
Washington certainly wouldn’t prefer a trade and welcome over $46 million of cap hits to two quarterbacks with one out. If Flacco is available on free agency after a release, the Redskins would have more options to sign him to a more reasonable deal. And unlike Smith, Flacco is not coming off a career-year, which could lesson his market value via trade or free agency.
Other options for the Redskins are one of the two other quarterbacks on the roster. There is Colt McCoy, who has one year remaining on his contract next season with a $3.5 million cap hit. Then there is Josh Johnson, who the team signed this month after McCoy suffered a fractured fibula in his second start replacing Smith and Mark Sanchez was an utter disaster in his lone start of the season. Johnson has looked good, leading the Redskins’ to a comeback win over the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, as Washington kept their playoff hopes alive.
Johnson’s success or lack thereof over the final two weeks could dictate whether the Redskins will stick with their in-house options, turn to the draft that appears not all appealing outside the top-two quarterbacks according to draft pundits, or survey the open market for a quarterback like Flacco.