Two days after Tyler Huntley played the fourth quarter in relief of starting quarterback Lamar Jackson, the Baltimore Ravens signed the undrafted rookie to a reserve/future deal on Monday.
What does that mean for the former Utah quarterback?
When we last saw Huntley
Huntley’s first extensive action as a pro came last Saturday, when the Ravens lost 17-3 to the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. He entered the game in the fourth quarter after Jackson, the reigning NFL MVP, left with a concussion.
When he took over the offense, Baltimore was already down 14. Huntley had one big miss — he overthrew an open Marquise Brown downfield on a fourth-down play on his first full drive. Still, Huntley rebounded and displayed confidence in leading a 12-play, 56-yard drive that reached the Buffalo 10 before tight end Mark Andrews couldn’t bring in a high pass from Huntley on fourth-and-goal.
Huntley completed 6 of 13 passes for 60 yards, including a 29-yard pass to Brown on a third-and-16 play. He also finished with three carries for 32 yards, including an 11-yard scramble that got Baltimore inside the Buffalo red zone.
“We were just trying to get points on the board, just fighting until the very end,” Huntley said, per the team’s website. “It’s an NFL game, so it can go down to the wire, and you have to fight until the end. We’ve just got to find a way to get that ball in the end zone.”
Huntley’s performance in 2020
Though he was waived at final cuts prior to Week 1, the Ravens signed him to their practice squad. As it turned out, that was a wise decision. Baltimore dealt with some COVID-19 and injury issues at the position this season, and Huntley found himself elevated to the active roster as the backup several times late in the year once two other Baltimore quarterbacks — veteran Robert Griffin III and second-year pro Trace McSorley — landed on injured reserve in December.
“I don’t want to tell y’all anything about him. I don’t need y’all hyping him up. I know what he’s capable of doing. We want to keep him under the radar as much as possible.” — Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson, on Tyler Huntley
Prior to Saturday’s game, Huntley had played sparingly. Over two December regular-season games, he completed 3 of 5 passes for 15 yards and had 10 carries for 23 yards in wins over Jacksonville and Cincinnati.
He also got an endorsement from the starter, Jackson, late in the regular season.
“I don’t want to tell y’all anything about him,” Jackson said, per the team’s website. “I don’t need y’all hyping him up. I know what he’s capable of doing. We want to keep him under the radar as much as possible.”
What the future may hold
By signing a reserve/future contract, Huntley can work out with the Ravens during the offseason. Per Spotrac, the deal is worth a base salary of $780,000 in 2021. It’s common practice for teams to sign many of their practice squad players to future deals once their season is over. Baltimore also signed former BYU running back Ty’Son Williams to a future deal — he was active for one game in 2020.
Also on Monday, the Ravens released Griffin, the former second overall pick in the 2012 draft who spent the past three seasons with Baltimore. During that time, he completed 33 of 58 passes for 288 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions while starting two games.
Will that mean Huntley, who earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors his senior year at Utah, could be a candidate to be the QB2 in Baltimore this upcoming season? With Griffin’s release, there are currently three quarterbacks on the Ravens’ roster: Jackson (signed through 2021 on his rookie deal; expect Baltimore to exercise his fifth-year option for 2022), Huntley and McSorley (signed through 2022, as a sixth-round pick in 2019).
“(Huntley) made some scramble plays, handled it in terms of managing things and orchestrating, really in a challenging situation because we were on a time constraint right there and trying to move as fast as we could. I thought he did a nice job.” — Baltimore coach John Harbaugh, on Tyler Huntley’s performance last Saturday
Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said Huntley “did a good job” in a tough situation in the Ravens’ playoff loss.
“(Huntley) made some scramble plays, handled it in terms of managing things and orchestrating, really in a challenging situation because we were on a time constraint right there and trying to move as fast as we could. I thought he did a nice job,” Harbaugh told reporters after the loss.
Huntley also fits the mold of a mobile quarterback, like the Ravens have in Jackson and McSorley.
It’s possible the Ravens could add another quarterback this offseason, similar to having Griffin serve as a veteran leader who can contribute the past few years. Griffin made $2.5 million in 2020 — $2 million in base salary, and $500,000 in bonus salary — according to Spotrac.
Quarterbacks who are set to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason and earned similar money to what Griffin made in 2020 include Cam Newton (who started for New England this season on a one-year deal), Andy Dalton (who filled in for the injured Dax Prescott in Dallas this season), Joe Flacco, Colt McCoy and Jameis Winton, among others.