Last week, I wrote a very hypothetical scenario in which currently-retired quarterback Brett Favre could become a Raven. The national media has begun to weigh in on the Packers’ sticky situation and where might Favre, if he asks to be reinstated from reserve/retired, could land by release or trade.
ESPN.com columnist Bill Williamson penned a piece over the weekend saying that Baltimore might be one of three attractive landing spots for Favre if he decides to return to the NFL for 2008. Could that really happen?
It might with three conditions: 1. Favre asks for his reinstatement and the Packers tell him that Aaron Rodgers is their starter in 2008 and that they will move on without him. 2. Green Bay is able to work a trade to a non-NFC contender (absolutely no trade to division rivals Chicago or Minnesota) or to a AFC team in need of a starting quarterback (Favre, after coming so close to the Super Bowl last year, won’t go to a non-contender). 3. The team acquiring Favre can accommodate his remaining salary (or re-negotiate) under that team’s current cap number.
My second assumption is tenuous, only because unless somebody really covets Favre’s rights, most teams know the Packers are in a major pickle if Favre pushes the button to return and might wait until he is released, rather than give up a mid-round draft pick for what might be a one-year setup.
Here are my reasons why Favre might be a good fit in a Ravens uniform this season and some questions to ponder.
Reasons For Favre:
Favre is a proven winner at QB coming off a MVP-type season.
Ravens have a veteran team, but there are short-term questions at QB.
Team brass thinks club has one playoff run left as currently constituted.
Team is probably a year away from highly drafted rookie Joe Flacco taking over.
Flacco and Troy Smith could spend the year learning from Favre’s experience.
Acceptance of change has been the hallmark of the Ravens offseason and this would be one more step in that direction.
Can Favre follow 2007’s output at close to the same level?
How will a strong-willed quarterback, who is now putting his current team in a very tough situation, mesh with first-time NFL head coach John Harbaugh and the “team-first” culture he has put in place?
New staff spent entire offseason installing Cam Cameron’s new offensive system. Can Favre succeed with the new playbook, or would the Ravens have to make wholesale changes in training camp?
Do the Ravens have the necessary weapons — offensive line and receivers — to give be successful with Favre under center?
Does Favre’s presence make that much of a difference in the AFC North to push the Ravens over the top or enough to capture a Wild Card berth?
The key unanswered question: Which Ravens team does the organization think was the real one — the 2006 division winners or the down-on-its-luck 2007 edition? If the club believes 2006 was real and 2007 was the aberration, then GM Ozzie Newsome should look at the possibility. If 2007 was the better indication of how far the club is away from the postseason, then Baltimore should pass on Favre and continue with the current plan.
The national media circus would be incredible to behold at training camp, but is certainly manageable with Favre’s cooperation. Favre and the Ravens would be a quickie marriage in the shotgun sense — everyone would have to get along quickly and bear down harder to succeed.
Harbaugh would have a great challenge right out of the gate, but the reasons the Ravens hired him would give him an edge: someone supremely focused on the “team” concept, who views coaching as a one-on-one process with each player and who knows the players — and himself — all have something to prove going into 2008.
Something to prove? Favre would have that motivation in spades if the Packers decide to move on without him. A desire to prove the Green Bay organization wrong, a desire to shut up those who think he should have stayed retired and most of all, a desire to win a Super Bowl that he captured once and was oh-so-close from trying to win it again almost six months ago.
Favre could stay retired in Mississippi or the Packers could welcome him back if he decides to return. One of those two possibilities is certainly in play here. Could Favre come to Baltimore? On the surface, the possibility is very hypothetical. But, did anyone outside of the Ravens’ hiring committee really see Harbaugh as the club’s new coach back in January instead of Jason Garrett?