Breaking: Ravens Closing In On Deal To ‘Upgrade’ Josh Johnson With $24.5 Million QB

Breaking: Ravens Closing In On Deal To ‘Upgrade’ Josh Johnson With $24.5 Million QB

The Baltimore Ravens will continue to start Lamar Jackson as their quarterback, although they could sign former eighth-overall selection pick Ryan Tannehill in 2024 NFL free agency to improve Josh Johnson, the team’s backup.

It’s a notion put forth by The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec. Zrebiec acknowledged that Ravens “officials have stated on numerous occasions that they rank Josh Johnson second only to Lamar Jackson.” Devin Leary, a sixth-round rookie, projects to be the No. 3. Still, it’s difficult to deny that Tannehill would be a better choice than the Ravens’ backup quarterbacks.

Being “a former Pro Bowl selection who has thrown for nearly 35,000 yards in his career, succeeded in a run-first offense, and won playoff games,” Tannehill’s resume is a clear improvement above that of journeyman Johnson.

The fact that Tannehill is accustomed to All-Pro running back Derrick Henry from their time together with the Tennessee Titans is another benefit of signing him. Although Tannehill would gain from that experience, there are other noteworthy advantages to placing him below Jackson in the depth chart.

Ryan Tannehill Fits Ravens’ Offense

Jackson is in charge of a Baltimore offense that still relies heavily on play-action throwing and a running game built on force. Tannehill is a wonderful fit for this plan.

Tannehill, a former wide receiver who excelled as a quarterback at Texas A&M, has always shown natural dual-threat ability. While not as good as Jackson when it comes to the run, Tannehill has averaged 4.8 yards per rush in his professional career.

Tannehill’s ability to run has made him a prolific player while not in play. According to Next Gen Stats, he demonstrated his ability by “completing 7 of 9 passes for 168 yards” against the Los Angeles Chargers during the Titans’ previous season.

Play action was a staple for the Ravens in 2023, with Jackson amassing 525 yards from 58 attempts, according to Pro Football Reference. Jackson also ran 115 RPOs last season.

With Henry joining the team, the play action and RPO games should continue to be crucial for the Ravens. Tannehill frequently took advantage of the 30-year-old’s fearsome ability as a power back while he was with the Titans, especially in 2021 when he had a 53 percent play-action rate, according to Next Gen Stats.

The Ravens learned the hard way in the postseason following the 2019 campaign just how successful the Tanehill and Henry combination can be. Jackson’s first NFL MVP campaign came to an abrupt end at M&T Bank Stadium as Tannehill led the team to a 28-12 victory in the Divisional Round.

Maybe the bitter memory of that game serves as the perfect audition for Tannehill joining the Ravens as a more battle-tested QB2. Or perhaps general manager Eric DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh will stick with Johnson in this vital role.

Josh Johnson’s Experience is Still Valuable

Johnson is one of the most traveled passers in the pros. The 37-year-old has played for seven different clubs, such as the 49ers, Browns, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Although he has only made nine starts, the 6′ 3″, 214-pound quarterback is another agile quarterback who can outscore opponents both on the ground and through the air. During the last preseason game against the Washington Commanders, Johnson showed off his arm prowess by throwing a touchdown pass to Tyler Wallace.

Peering inside the building beyond Johnson would introduce the Ravens into the field of real estate development. Unproven signal-callers such as former undrafted free agent Maliki Cunningham of the New England Patriots, who may still develop into a wide receiver.

Uncertainty about passers like Cunningham and rookie Emory Jones means Jackson’s immediate deputy will likely be Johnson or another established signal-caller still on the veteran market. If it’s the latter, the Ravens won’t find a better option than Tannehill.

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