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Why the Ravens' approach to handling Joe Flacco's exit is 'like playing chess'

In an offseason teeming with uncertainty and variables, the Ravens at least know that quarterback Joe Flacco will not return next season.

The trouble is, so does the rest of the NFL. Why send an asset to Baltimore to secure a trade when he might hit the open market as a free agent?

Eric DeCosta is not worried. The Ravens general manager said at his introductory news conference Wednesday that “all it takes is one team” to create a trade market for Flacco, who’s owed $18.5 million next season and was benched in favor of rookie Lamar Jackson after a midseason hip injury.

“You know what? It’s like playing chess,” DeCosta said. “You need different options. … If there’s one team interested, yeah, we’ll probably trade him. If there’s nobody interested, we’ll have to make another decision.”

If the Ravens cut or trade Flacco outright, they would incur a dead-money charge of $16 million and save $8 million. If Flacco is designated as a post-June 1 cut, their savings would be greater — $18.5 million total, with just $8 million in dead money — but delayed until three months after the league year and free agency begins.

With a mix of inexperienced and still-developing quarterbacks dotting the first round of mock drafts, and the vital importance of the position in the modern NFL, Flacco could be attractive in a free-agent quarterback class headlined by the Philadelphia Eagles’ Nick Foles.

“I will say this: This league craves quarterbacks,” DeCosta said. “And Joe Flacco has won a lot of games. He’s one of the best pure passers in probably the NFL. He’s won a lot of games. And every year, coaches and GMs get fired because they don’t have a good quarterback. So we’ll just see how it all shakes out.”

He added: “I think that when the time comes for us to make a decision, one way or another, we’ll have a plan in place.”

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