OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- For the better part of the past decade, the backup quarterback position was an afterthought for the Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens' best options are bringing back either Robert Griffin III or Tyrod Taylor. Both are experienced (which is a necessity given the increased injury risk of Jackson's running) and are familiar with Baltimore's unconventional offense.
Taylor, who will be an unrestricted free agent in March, produced his only Pro Bowl season in 2015 when new Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman was his playcaller in Buffalo. Griffin, who impressed teammates and coaches in his first season in Baltimore, will also be a free agent.
"I’d love to be back," Griffin said. "I feel like I have a good grasp of what this team is trying to do. I would love to help Lamar [Jackson] continue to develop and also be available and ready to play. The question is, is that going to happen? I don’t know."
Ravens officials spoke to Griffin about the possibility of returning before the season ended. Griffin was the No. 3 quarterback for most of the season, but he can move up the depth chart with Baltimore parting ways with Flacco by either trade or release.
When Flacco was sidelined with a hip injury for four weeks, Griffin proved he could come off the bench and be effective. When Jackson was in concussion protocol in Atlanta, Griffin led a 14-play, 60-yard drive that resulted in a field goal. When Jackson hurt his ankle in overtime at Kansas City, Griffin nearly converted a fourth-and-22 with a pass to Willie Snead, but it fell incomplete after some contact by Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller.
Where Griffin separates himself from Taylor is the mentorship aspect. Griffin was constantly talking to Jackson on the sidelines during game, and he can provide a voice of experience having been a first-round quarterback as well.
After the 23-17 playoff loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, Griffin approached Jackson in the locker room.
"I said [that] I was proud of the way he finished," Griffin said. "At the end of the day, there’s never been any quit in anybody in this locker room, so when you’re at the helm, and you’re the quarterback, you also have to show that. I think that’s a true testament to his character and the type of guy and player that he can be moving forward."
What works in Taylor's favor is his history with the Ravens and Roman, who was promoted to offensive coordinator last week. Taylor was Flacco's backup for four seasons (2011-14) before becoming the starter with the Bills. In 2015, Taylor put up career numbers under Roman, throwing 20 touchdowns and six interceptions (99.4 passer rating).
In January 2016, Taylor was very complimentary of Roman.
"Oh, it's great to play for coach Roman," Taylor said. "A brilliant coach, first and foremost. Does a great job every week of scheming."
Taylor might not consider coming back to Baltimore if he gets a better chance to start with a team like Jacksonville, Miami, Washington or Carolina (if Cam Newton sits out the season). But Taylor could see the Ravens as a good opportunity considering the number of hits that Jackson took as a rookie.
During his time in Buffalo, Roman once described Taylor as "elite." The Ravens have never hidden their affection for Taylor's ability and professionalism.
"I would have kept him forever," coach John Harbaugh said before facing Taylor in the 2016 season opener.
Depending on how the offseason pans out, the Ravens could have a familiar face backing up Jackson in 2019.