Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

23 Jun 2010

Ravens Add Marc Bulger

The Ravens have signed quarterback Marc Bulger to a one-year deal worth $3.8 million.

That's a decent chunk of change for a backup who hasn't shown anything in three years.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 23 Jun 2010

35 comments, Last at 26 Jun 2010, 8:36am by argus

Comments

1
by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 6:17pm

if falcco get injured ravens not going to miss a beat. M Bugler verry good guy to have as vackup. Ravens proibably going to win north. ravens 11-5, bengals 9-7, steelers 5-11, borwns 5-11

5
by Theo :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 7:13pm

This is the AFC North, you can be serious now.
The steelers will go 10-6. They are good enough.
The Ravens are getting old. So yea M Bugler verry good guy, perhaps as good as falcco who knows, but it's not like they are going to dominate anything.

8
by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 8:09pm

leftwich stinks and roethlioberger rapes, holmes gon, ward old, defense overated

ravens defintely beter than sreelers and ohio teams just as good or better than pitt

11
by JimZipCode :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 9:30pm

I don't get why commentators are soooooo convinced the Steelers are going to implode this year. Reports of their demise are greatly exaggerated. Cincy, Pitt and Bawlmer are all going to win 9+ games, again. The winner is going to be whichever team gets luckiest.

I think the Ravens have the best chance, and they figure to get better defensively as the season goes on, with their injured CBs rounding into form. But no one's running away and hiding in the division.

By the way, Ravens schedule is front-loaded this year. If they manage to get thru the first 4 games or 6 games at .500 or above, they'll have a good shot at a 1st-rd bye.

12
by drobviousso :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 9:52pm

+1

15
by chemical burn :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 10:47pm

At least part of the reason for the Steelers predicted decline is that that they already started to fall apart last year, missed the playoffs (in favor of an pretty weak Bengals team) and then appear to have only gotten worse in the off-season. I know DVOA thought their 9-7 record was deceptive, but really - what's the reason for optimism here?

Having Leftwich start for six games is going to be trouble for a team that was frequently carried last year by Roethlisberger...

20
by Anonymous2 (not verified) :: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 9:56am

How about the fact that their best player on defense missed most of the season due to injury? Someone around here must have the Steelers DVOA with polamalu vs. without.

I'll additionally claim that the the Big Ben suspension will force them to run the ball more, especially in the first half of the season, which might not be such a bad thing. They depended on him heavily last year because he won them the super bowl the year prior, and why not. This year, they know they'll be without him, and will probably be rusty when he comes back. I expect them to return to their 2005 model, more running, better D, and just enough passing. As a Ravens fan, you can never sleep on the Steelers.

As far as Bulger goes, yes, a lot of money. Would have rather seen them give this money to Walt Harris. A local reporter for the Sun said the source who confirmed the deal to him also confirmed it is in fact as a backup.

21
by chemical burn :: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 10:01am

But they weren't any good at running the ball last year (17th in DVOA), so why would being forced to run more help them? Their offense line isn't the same unit from 2005 and there's no reason to think they'll suddenly get good.

I know getting Polamalu back matters, but their division is too strong for anyone to assume they'll be the cream of it - if anything, there's more reason to think the Browns will improve than the Steelers will...

I'm not saying the Steelers absolutely cannot compete, but there's no reason real to think they'll be better than the just "ok" team they fielded last year...

31
by Brendan Scolari :: Fri, 06/25/2010 - 7:18am

Why on Earth would you give that kind of money to Walt Harris? The msn is 36, just missed an entire season because of a torn ACL, and wasn't even that good in the few years preceding his injury anyway.

33
by jimbohead :: Fri, 06/25/2010 - 11:16am

indeed. There were a couple games in '08 that were just painful to watch. It was clear that he was so completely gassed by the 4th quarter that he couldn't cover my 3 yr old niece.

24
by roguerouge :: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 10:51am

I think 7-9 is the more realistic record for the Steelers, due to the quality of the D and that they'll get 5+ wins in the 10 games Roethlisberger plays. But, yes, third place and out of the playoffs is pretty spot-on.

2
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 6:34pm

This seems like a strange signing to me. I think I would rather have Troy Smith as my backup than Marc Bulger.

Bulger has -425 DYAR over the last three years, with DVOAs of -16.5%, -19.8%, and -19.1%. He has averaged 4.0, 4.4, and 4.7 ANY/A, with an ANY/A+ of 81, 85, and 88. I realize he was on awful teams, but that production is scary bad. He also doesn't have a great track record for health.

3
by coboney :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 6:54pm

Maybe its a sign that there's a Troy Smith trade in the works ?

7
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 7:34pm

That could be the case.

John Beck would not exactly seem an inspired choice as backup if that were to happen before this move.

4
by buzzorhowl (not verified) :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 6:56pm

Seriously. At this point in his career, I can't imagine why you'd spend this kind of money on him.

9
by tuluse :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 8:19pm

Did you see the receivers on the Rams last year?

I doubt any of them would even start for the Bears.

16
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 10:50pm

Repeat: "I realize he was on awful teams, but that production is scary bad. He also doesn't have a great track record for health." (emphasis in original)

23
by Sophandros :: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 10:38am

Donnie Avery would start for the Bears, but we get the point.

-------------
Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

28
by tuluse :: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 3:08pm

I'm not convinced. Both the Bear's starters and Johnny Knox, bested Avery's DVOA by at least 10%

6
by Theo :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 7:20pm

"one-year deal worth $3.8 million"

Not bad to play backup QB.

35
by argus :: Sat, 06/26/2010 - 8:36am

More money than Flacco is making (2.66 million this year).

10
by JimZipCode :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 9:17pm

Agree, that's a lot of money for a clipboard carrier.

I wonder if he's also supposed to fill the role of "veteran mentor". Some of the Ravens brass still think the problem with Kyle Boller was that the team didn't have a veteran passer to mentor the young QB. Rather than Boller just not being able to play.

13
by ArchnerdUW :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 10:06pm

At some level this has to be troubling for Flacco fans. That is a ton of money for a veteran back-up. I guess the Ravens think that this is their year? Either that or there is less than unanimous confidence in Flacco's development. It has to be on or the other, right?

17
by BDC :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 11:05pm

Really? Who?

Edited to add that this was in response to, "Some of the Ravens brass still think the problem with Kyle Boller was that the team didn't have a veteran passer to mentor the young QB. Rather than Boller just not being able to play."

18
by JimZipCode :: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 8:22am

>> Really? Who?

I dunno. This is something that is frequently added in news pieces or columns in the Baltimore Sun, when they write about Flacco and developing QBs blah blah blah. It's unsourced. Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned it, since I can't verify it myself.

My fear is that Ozzie thinks that. That he made a good draft pick, and if they'd only had an experienced passer to mentor the young QB, he would have developed fine.

22
by JimZipCode :: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 10:02am

There's a guy on a Ravens board who did a better job saying this than I did:

“Ozzie mentioned they might go after a vet QB at State of the Ravens [an offseason team event]. He mentioned that Joe could benefit from an older backup (apparently Zorn is not enough as a mentor)”

There's a notion that an experienced veteran backup can be an asset to a young QB, help him somehow. Matt Bowen says the same thing in a column on Yahoo Sports:
http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_ylt=AiCc45MWYBk.j.FB5sPukoL.uLYF?slug=...
(Note his comments re Romo & Vinny.)

The Ravens evidently buy into that notion. Maybe that justifies paying a premium for Bulger, who has been a pretty good QB in his time. Hell, maybe there's something to it.

So @ArchnerdUW, I think there's a third option. Either the Ravens think this is their year, or they don't have complete confidence in Flacco's development, *OR* they think an experienced veteran can assist Flacco's development. Or some combination.

(BTW, I think they do think this could be their year. Or the start of a window of years that could be theirs.)

EDIT: Sorry, totally wrong link. This is the link I meant:
http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/story?id=2792882
Matt Mosley in 2007. About 3/4 down, there's a paragraph about Romo & Vinny.

25
by BDC :: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 11:41am

Well, the first article mentions an advantage of a veteran backup is that they can step in (theoretically anyway) and run the offense pretty much unmodified or "dumbed down"; I don't think anyone disputes this.

The second article mentions an advantage of a veteran backup is that they don't make the younger QB feel like they are going to lose their job to the backup, which again, I don't think anyone disputes.

Neither of these articles however say anything at all about having a veteran backup to mentor a young QB, which is what is being mentioned here.

Even the Ozzy quote indicates that they felt their QB could benefit from an older backup but doesn't indicate why; it could just as easily be for the reasons already mentioned and have nothing to do with mentoring.

I guess I am not saying it doesn't happen, just like you said, it is often mentioned as happening but I don't recall ever seeing a coach ever say it. Actually, it seems rather silly if you think about it to waste a roster slot on a player so they can mentor a younger player, isn't that what the coaches are for? Seems to me that if there was a strong market for for "mentors", we would see some of these guys retiring from playing and taking on jobs as coaches or consultants or what have you.

29
by Joe T. :: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 5:08pm

The 2nd string guy doesn't just keep the bench warm for the starter on cold nights. They have observational and record-keeping duties that are important to the offensive coaching staff and the starter.

http://www.indy.com/posts/colts-backup-quarterbacks-work-while-no-18-pla...

I can see the advantages of having somebody like Marc Bulger, who knows the offense and just about every NFL defense in this role, versus Troy Smith or another inexperienced player.

That said, I don't see that its an exorbitant sum to pay for Bulger, when as I mentioned earlier, Dan "Where's My Endzone?" Orlovsky made +$4 million last year. To backup Rex Grossman.

14
by Joe T. :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 10:36pm

2009 base salaries - backup QBs

Culpepper - 2.5m
McCown, L - 2.5m
Volek - 2.5m
Rosenfels - 2m
Leftwich - 2m
Simms - 1.96m
Fitzpatrick - 1.82m
Redman - 1.75m
Orlovsky - 1.75m
Wallace - 1.75m
McCown, J - 1.7m

Dan Orlovsky got a 2.4m signing bonus, effectively making his 2009 salary $4.2m. Also, John Kitna signed on for a base level salary with Dallas of only $1.4m, but got a $2.6m signing bonus.

http://content.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/salaries/playersbypositi...

19
by Nathan :: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 9:03am

Those players at that money... I'd take Wallace.

26
by Joseph :: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 11:41am

Here's my 2 cents:
1. Bulger was the best QB available--by far.
2. Sure, he's been bad for some pretty awful Rams' teams the last 3 years. But it's not like their backup came in and posted great stats--except for Steven Jackson & OJ Atogwe (sp?), the whole team did. (Maybe the punter had good stats too. :D )
3. A few years ago, he was considered to be in the top half of the league. Now, he's "washed up"--but hey, it's not like he's 40 now--injuries have been the big part of his problem. (Of course, Holt & Bruce getting old didn't help, either.)
4. If Flacco goes down, I think most people would take Bulger over Troy Smith or John Beck in a heartbeat. At least Bulger has shown he has talent.

My last point is why I think the Ravens signed him--Flacco insurance, plus some of the "mentoring" other posters have mentioned. Personally, I wish the Saints could have signed him to be Brees' insurance--although it appears they have a handshake agreement with Patrick Ramsey.

27
by Shattenjager :: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 12:25pm

I'm not sure Bulger was much, if at all, above average, even at his peak.

For one thing, when he produced he had fantastic teammates (Steven Jackson, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Orlando Pace). For another, see http://www.pro-football-reference.com/blog/?p=3461

30
by Noah of Arkadia :: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 11:04pm

I like Troy Smith. I must be a terrible judge of talent. Or maybe I've just watched too little of him.

32
by Nathan :: Fri, 06/25/2010 - 11:03am

I like Troy Smith too... because he's short, won a Heisman, and had some bad luck that cost him a chance at starting. Whether or not he has what it takes to be a NFL QB I have no idea.

34
by The Other Ben Johnson (not verified) :: Fri, 06/25/2010 - 12:25pm

Isn't gamesmanship part of the reasoning here? There's a pretty healthy discussion going on here about the Steelers and the fact that they're going to start Leftwich for 6 games, although that is in no way a pre-ordained plan. Maybe the Ravens, aside from seeing value in signing Bulger, would rather see Leftwich than Bulger leading the Steelers. There's extra value in making a move that both helps you and also hurts a divisional opponent. I think a one-year deal in an uncapped year that also dries up the veteran QB market for your most significant divisional competitor is worth a few extra bucks.