Baltimore Ravens fans made their feelings clear Sunday as they yelled for Coach John Harbaugh to pull struggling rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson from the wild-card game against the Chargers and bring in Joe Flacco.
But Harbaugh didn’t pull the trigger. The Ravens are Jackson’s team now and Flacco, who will turn 34 on Jan. 16, may well have made his last appearance at M&T Bank Stadium — at least in a purple uniform. Harbaugh indicated as much when he met with reporters.
“Joe Flacco is going to play really well in this league. Joe can still play — I think we saw that the first half of the season,” he said of the Super Bowl XLVIII MVP. “Joe’s going to have a market; There’s going to be a lot of teams that are going to want Joe because they understand that. I’ll be in Joe’s corner wherever he’s at. He’s special. Joe Flacco is a great talent; he’s an even better person; he’s the best QB in the history of the Ravens without question. . . . He’s going to do just fine.”
Harbaugh said he did consider putting Flacco into the game, but provided no details, other than adding that he didn’t think Flacco would have played better than Jackson in the fourth quarter. Jackson, who fumbled three times (including at the end of the game) in the 23-17 loss, heard the boos but said he was unaffected. “We still love the fans. No hard feelings,” he said. “They were looking for better in us. We didn’t perform well. It happens sometimes.”
Flacco, who appeared in nine regular season games, the last on Nov. 4, wasn’t expecting to play against the Chargers. “It really wasn’t [frustrating]," he said. “We made the decision what was going to happen here weeks ago. I really wanted to see the guys turn it up a little bit and make a play, which they did.”
He has three years remaining on his contract, but the Ravens would save $10.5 million by parting with him. Keeping him would involve a $16 million salary-cap hit. Flacco was bothered by a hip injury this season and completed 61.2 percent of his passes, his lowest percentage since 2013, and the Ravens were 4-5 with him as the starter.
“I love the people of Baltimore, man. To be honest, I can’t imagine a better 11 years,” he said. “This place becoming my home and my children’s home. Definitely a group of fans and a community that I loved to be around for 11 years.”
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