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The Brandt Report

Joe Flacco landing spots: Jaguars, Redskins among fits for QB

Joe Flacco has won more games than almost anyone else in the NFL since he entered the league in 2008. He's also one of just six active quarterbacks not named Tom Brady or Eli Manning to have won a Super Bowl. And this offseason, he'll likely be available to any team that wants him.

The flip side of this equation is that Joe Flacco's career passer rating (84.1) ranks 40th among QBs to have thrown 1,000-plus passes since he entered the league. He's also posted a lower career yards-per-attempt figure (6.75) than Trevor Siemian (6.81), Geno Smith (6.82) and Brian Hoyer (7.02).

In his 11th season in Baltimore, the former Super Bowl MVP has been replaced by young, dynamic running threat Lamar Jackson, who snapped a three-game losing streak in his first start while pushing the Ravens into the playoff picture. So it was not surprising to see NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport report on Sunday that Baltimore is expected to say goodbye to the veteran this offseason. But while the 33-year-old Flacco is most definitely no longer young or dynamic, he is still a good quarterback who can help a team. He's a quintessential high-floor guy who can bring a consistent, veteran presence to a team with a strong running game and effective defense. Right now, when he's fully healthy, I'd rank him right around the middle of the pack among current NFL quarterbacks, somewhere between 16 and 20. So while there are plenty of better quarterbacks out there, he's still more capable of winning games in the NFL than the majority of people on this Earth.

While Jackson and the Ravens get ready to make a final push for the playoffs, I thought I'd turn my attention to potential landing spots for Flacco this offseason, whether via trade or free agency. Note that for the purposes of this article, I'm more concerned with who he could help the most than I am with where he is most likely to go.

1) Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are the clear-cut, no-doubt best fit for Flacco. Like Baltimore, Jacksonville boasts a potent defense (sixth in scoring and yards this season) and a capable run game (when Leonard Fournette is healthy, anyway), with a strong offensive line, to boot. The Jaguars were supposed to contend for a Super Bowl after reaching the AFC title game last season. Instead, they're in danger of finishing with five or fewer wins for the eighth time in the past 11 seasons. Blake Bortles' struggles at quarterback (along with injuries to Fournette and receiver Marqise Lee) most definitely did not help -- the fifth-year pro was benched last month after posting seven games with a passer rating of 80 or worse, which puts him square in the company of rookies (Josh Rosen has a league-leading 10, while Bortles is tied with Josh Allen for second). I think we saw Bortles' true colors even before the Jaguarsextended him in February, in last season's playoff loss to the Patriots: After a stellar first half, he disappeared, completing 10 of 21 passes for 138 yards and zero touchdowns.

Adding Flacco's steady, veteran guiding hand would jam open a competitive window that is threatening to close prematurely if Jacksonville can't find a quarterback. If, hypothetically speaking, Flacco had been in Jacksonville this year, the Jags would have won more than four games by now. Cutting Bortles would incur an unappealing dead-cap hit of $16.5 million in 2019, according to Over The Cap, but the bet on Bortles simply didn't work this year, whether it was because the coaching staff didn't realize Bortles' limitations or because the supporting cast failed to live up to expectations. Jacksonville only has so many years left to make good on its promising defensive core. Acquiring Flacco would be a good place to start.

2) Washington Redskins

This hinges somewhat on the future of injured quarterback Alex Smith, who suffered a leg injury in Week 11 that led to a lengthy hospital stay and put his playing future in serious doubt. If Smith -- who himself went from Kansas City to Washington in a move inspired by the development of Patrick Mahomes -- is unable to play, Flacco could come in and pick up right where he left off. Their statistics in 2018 are strikingly similar: Flacco posted 12 TDs, six picks, 273.9 yards per game and a passer rating of 84.2 in nine starts, while Smith recorded 10 TDs, five picks, 218 yards per game and a passer rating of 85.7 in 10 starts. And heading into the game in which Smith went down, Washington was 6-3 and in first place in the NFC East, proving the supporting cast's ability to compete when paired with reliable quarterback play. Presuming Brandon Scherff returns to full health, the line should be strong in 2019, while a defense led by Ryan Kerrigan and the young duo of Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen will help keep opponents within striking distance for the offense. (The Redskins rank 13th in points allowed this season.) Shoot, Washington has been able to keep its playoff hopes afloat with Josh Johnson -- who, until last Sunday, hadn't started a game since 2011 -- under center. This team's quarterback plan was thrown into disarray by Smith's injury, but Flacco should have no problem stabilizing Washington's immediate future.

3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The No. 1 passing offense in the NFL is absolutely loaded at the skill positions, with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard (who is currently on injured reserve) serving as an enticing group of targets heading into 2019. Don't forget that Ryan Fitzpatrick was able to put up all-world numbers (70 percent completion rate, 410 yards per game, 11:4 TD-to-INT ratio) for the first three weeks of the season. However, Tampa was never able to find consistency at the position, switching from Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston while stumbling to a 5-9 record. A lot of this team's 2018 issues can be pinned on a defense that ranks 28th overall, but I don't think this organization is happy with the quarterback position right now. Much depends on whether the Bucs keep coach Dirk Koetter -- who really is a good offensive mind -- or hire someone new. Winston will dazzle you from time to time, but Flacco is more consistently reliable, having posted a career interception rate (2.4 percent) that is almost a full percentage point lower than Winston's (3.1 percent) . While Tampa Bay did exercise Winston's fifth-year option for 2019, that is guaranteed for injury only, so the Bucs do still have room to part ways with Winston this offseason if they so choose. With Flacco stabilizing the offense, Tampa could focus on rebuilding its defense and becoming a truly well-rounded threat in the NFC.

4) Tennessee Titans

The Titans rode Marcus Mariota to one playoff win last season and are on the verge of returning to the playoffs this season. He's an extraordinary athlete with excellent speed. But Mariota simply hasn't developed like I thought he would at this point in his career. Among quarterbacks who have attempted at least 300 passes this season, Mariota's yards-per-game mark of 186.0 is only better thanJosh Rosen's (170.2) -- Rosen and Mariota are the only two players in that group to average less than 200 yards per game. Mariota's touchdown total of 11 is also easily the lowest among players to have thrown 300-plus passes and made 12 or more starts, falling below Case Keenum (15), Dak Prescott (17) and Eli Manning (18). Like Winston, Mariota's fifth-year option was exercised -- but Tennessee is also free to move on if so desired. As another team that can dominate on defense (ranking seventh overall in the NFL) and on the ground (fifth in rushing yards), the Titans would presumably be in better shape with a more reliable hand like Flacco's on the tiller.

5) Cincinnati Bengals

Frankly, Jacksonville and Washington are the most realistic landing spots for Flacco, with Tampa and Tennessee fitting the profile of teams that would win with him, though they already have serviceable quarterbacks in-house. In the interest of spicing things up, let's wander afield a bit and imagine Flacco replacing Andy Dalton in Cincinnati. Yes, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport has reported that Dalton -- who is on injured reserve with a thumb injury -- is set to keep his job next season. But the Bengals would not have to carry any dead money in 2019 from Dalton's contract if they decided to part ways, according to Over The Cap. And Flacco is more consistently talented than Dalton, especially when you compare their postseason records (10-5 for Flacco vs. 0-4 for Dalton). Dalton's numbers might be better than Flacco's, but remember that Dalton has played with A.J. Green for the entirety of his eight-year career; Flacco has never thrown to a receiver of that caliber for that many seasons. At the very least, I think Cincinnati will have to think about drafting a developmental quarterback, and Flacco looks to me like a more reliable bridge to the youngster than Dalton. Plus, think about the extra juice this move would bring to the Bengals-Ravens AFC North rivalry.


Miami Dolphins: Whatever the Dolphins decide to do with incumbent Ryan Tannehill, I don't see quarterback as the main problem for a team that ranks 29th overall on offense and 30th overall on defense.

Denver Broncos: There's not much distance between Flacco and current Broncos starter Case Keenum in terms of ability, and the Broncos would be on the hook for $10 million in dead money next season if they decided to part ways with Keenum, per Over The Cap, so I don't see this happening.

New York Giants: If it came down to Flacco or Eli Manning, I'd take Manning. Pat Shurmur's recent public statement of faith in Manning only further cements the Giants' placement here.

Follow Gil Brandt on Twitter _@GilBrandt_.

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