Ravens news, notes and opinions on Joe Flacco, the NFL draft and more

The Ravens will have a host of needs this offseason, and offensive tackle is one of them.

The Ravens have six games remaining and they’ll navigate this end-of-season stretch without starting quarterback Joe Flacco, lead running back Justin Forsett, top wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., center Jeremy Zuttah and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs.

Unless Matt Schaub surprises a whole lot of the “amateur evaluators,” it’s entirely possible that the Ravens might not be favored to win another game the rest of the way.

Judging by the questions I get on Twitter, many Ravens fans have already turned their attention to the NFL draft.

Look, I think the build-up period to the draft gets a little tedious, even when the talk starts after the season, so I hesitate to get into it much now. But I will say that Sunday’s game was more proof that the Ravens have to strongly consider taking a book-end offensive tackle early in the draft.

Don’t misunderstand: I’m not putting Flacco’s injury all on left tackle James Hurst, who entered the game as a substitute for injured starter Eugene Monroe, and rolled into Flacco’s left knee.

But Monroe’s continued struggles to stay healthy have become problematic. He’s missed four of 10 games with injuries this year and left another three games early because of injuries. Last year, he missed five regular-season games and didn’t play in either postseason contest.

A lack of stability on the quarterback’s blindside will hold back any offense. Cutting Monroe after the season would create a significant amount of dead money on the salary cap, so I’m not necessarily advocating that. But with Monroe continually battling health issues, Hurst not establishing himself as a longterm answer and starting right tackle Rick Wagner a year away from free agency, the Ravens will have to at least consider taking a tackle if a top one is available when they’re on the clock.

Flacco's contract fallout

There are obvious questions about how Flacco’s injury will affect negotiations this offseason to restructure his contract. Could the uncertainty of how long he’ll be out result in the Ravens saving a little bit of money and getting him to sign a team-friendly deal?

It’s impossible to know for sure, but I highly doubt it. When the Ravens and Flacco’s agent, Joe Linta, negotiated his landmark six-year deal in March 2013, they knew that they’d likely be back at the bargaining table after the third year. The injury adds another layer to the pending talks, as does Flacco’s up-and-down play during the past couple of years. But the reality is Flacco, assuming his prognosis is good, still has leverage here.

The Ravens don’t have another starting option. It seems that the 2016 free-agent quarterback market will be headed by the likes of Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Kirk Cousins, and the incoming draft class lacks a bunch of blue-chip options, as well.

When you consider that as many as 10 teams could be looking to add a starting quarterback this offseason, it is clear that the demand at the position still far exceeds the supply.

If the Ravens were to cut loose Flacco because of a failure to agree to a new contract – something that I don’t see happening - his list of suitors will be long, if not distinguished. The bet here is that both sides will get something done without much rancor.

Schaub wins

The attention has mostly been on how Flacco’s injury will affect his future contract, but Schaub stands to benefit financially from the opportunity that he’s now getting.

Schaub gets $500,000 in incentives for playing 5 percent of the Ravens’ offensive snaps, and another $500,000 for playing 10 percent of the team’s snaps. As long as he stays relatively healthy, the extra $1 million is very obtainable.

Taylor wasn't an option

Maybe it was just because Tyrod Taylor was in action last night for the Buffalo Bills, but I read a lot over the past couple of days about how the Ravens should have re-signed him.

Well, the Ravens tried to re-sign Taylor and made him a competitive offer, but what they couldn’t offer him – and the Buffalo Bills, to their credit, did – was an opportunity to compete for a starting job. 

After sitting behind Flacco for four years, you can’t blame Taylor for wanting to go somewhere where he’d have a chance to play regularly.

What about Amos?

Former University of Maryland standout Stefon Diggs is often viewed as the local guy from the 2015 draft that got away from the Ravens.

The Minnesota Vikings got Diggs in the fifth round and he leads the team with 36 catches for 573 yards in just seven games.

But how about former Calvert Hall standout Adrian Amos?

The Chicago Bears drafted Amos, who played at Penn State, in the fifth round, and he’s started all 10 games at safety, making 39 tackles (third on the team) and one sack. He’s proven to be a smart and steady safety.

Coples not the best fit

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about whether the Ravens have any interest in defensive end Quinton Coples, the 2012 first-round draft pick who the New York Jets waived Monday.

The Ravens clearly need to add a pass rusher, so you can’t rule it out, although Coples might not be the best fit. He reportedly was released because he didn’t fit in the Jets’ new 3-4 defense. The Ravens play a 3-4 as well.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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