Tyler Huntley’s Recent Play Has Matt Hasselbeck Excited about the Ravens QB’s Future: ‘He’s Put the League on Notice’

Article Highlights:

  • ESPN’s Matt Hasselbeck is a huge fan of Baltimore Ravens backup quarterback Tyler Huntley
  • The former Pro Bowl quarterback offered lofty praise during the Jan. 2 episode of Sunday NFL Countdown
  • NFL teams must exercise caution if they’re considering trading for Huntley and starting him next season

Tyler Huntley’s sometimes-exciting run as the Baltimore Ravens’ starting quarterback could be approaching its end. With Lamar Jackson seemingly firmly entrenched as the face of the franchise, Huntley might be headed back to backup status when the regular season ends.

Huntley, who went undrafted in 2020, has nonetheless impressed at points in four games and three starts over the last two months. In fact, according to ESPN’s Matt Hasselbeck, the Utah product may have done enough to land a starting quarterback job sooner rather than later.

Matt Hasselbeck is buying high on Ravens backup quarterback Tyler Huntley

After beginning Week 14 on the bench, Huntley replaced Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP, early that afternoon following the dual-threat quarterback’s ankle injury. The second-year backup threw for 270 yards and a touchdown and nearly rallied the Ravens to a comeback victory over Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns. 

Then came Week 15, when Huntley scored four all-purpose touchdowns (two passing, two rushing) and almost took down Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Not only did Huntley impress as a passer, but he moved the chains with his legs — he rushed for 73 yards on 13 carries — and looked right at home in the Ravens’ offense.

Although Huntley missed a Week 16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals while in COVID-19 protocols, he clearly did enough before then to leave an impression on Hasselbeck, a former Pro Bowl quarterback in his own right. Early on the Jan. 2 episode of Sunday NFL Countdown, Hasselbeck offered lofty praise for Huntley.

“I think the way Tyler Huntley has played puts him in position to potentially be somebody’s starter someday. I think he’s put the league on notice with the kind of play he’s put out there.”

Matt Hasselbeck

Hours later, Huntley threw for 197 yards and an interception in a 20-19 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Other results later that day, including the Bengals’ walk-off victory against the Kansas City Chiefs, all but eliminated any hopes Ravens fans of participating in the postseason. Baltimore now needs to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 18 and hope four teams lose.

NFL teams need to exercise caution, especially if Huntley becomes a hot trade target

Hasselbeck has every right to praise Huntley, who has played well in spurts, especially given the Ravens’ overall rash of injuries and COVID-19 problems. However, it feels extremely premature to say he’s “put the league on notice” in recent weeks.

In most seasons, it feels like there’s that one backup quarterback who starts for a handful of games, looks competent, holds his own in a head-to-head matchup with the likes of Rodgers or a Tom Brady, and starts generating considerable hype in the media and among fans. For the lack of a better term, let’s call it Ryan Fitzpatrick Syndrome.

We’ve been here before. Matt Flynn looked like the second coming when he threw six touchdowns passes in a Week 17 victory over the Detroit Lions in January 2012. Although the Seattle Seahawks signed him to be their starter, the team’s rookie third-round pick, Russell Wilson, wound up winning that battle. Wilson is still slinging touchdowns in Seattle, by the way.

After having thrown 61 passes from 2008-12, Josh McCown parlayed a 13-1 TD-INT ratio in eight games with the 2013 Chicago Bears into a two-year, $10 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Although Tampa cut him after one year, McCown at least managed to continue finding steady work through 2020.

The less said about Brock Osweiler and his four-year, $72 million contract with the Houston Texans, the better.

None of that is to say Huntley is destined for failure. The greater point is that it feels way too early to herald the second-year quarterback as a game-changer, someone capable of taking a tortured franchise and elevating them to playoff contention. 

Will Huntley really become available on the trade market this offseason?

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley in 2022.
Where will Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley play in 2022? | Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Huntley, who turns 24 on Feb. 3, entered Week 18 with a 67.5 completion percentage, 940 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions in six games and three starts this year. He’s also rushed for 222 yards and two scores on 6.3 yards per carry.

If we take Huntley’s statistics from his last four outings and and prorate them to an entire 17-game season, he’d theoretically complete 69.2% of his passes for 3,830 yards, 14 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. He’d also rush for 901 yards and nine touchdowns. We have to imagine that at least one team out there, and likely more, would eagerly want those numbers.

The problem, and it’s a significant one, is that Huntley is under contract through the end of next season. The Ravens might not necessarily feel compelled to trade him, especially considering Jackson is also currently scheduled to become a free agent in March 2022.

At this point, there is no reason to believe the Ravens won’t try extending Jackson in the coming months. However, the Ravens have a young quarterback waiting in the wings if things go wrong or if Jackson battles injuries again next year. Why give up on Huntley now?

Then again, if the Detroit Lions come calling with multiple draft picks, Hasselbeck may get his wish of seeing more Huntley after all.

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