The Baltimore Ravens had to sign a new quarterback after Joe Flacco suffered a back injury that will keep him out of practice for a while.
If you’re not sure who Olson is, neither is anyone else.
Who is David Olson?
Olson, 25, just finished a 12-game season with the Kansas City Phantoms of the Champions Indoor Football (CIF) league, an arena football league based in the Midwest.
He also spent time with the CIF’s Wichita Force and the Indoor Football League’s Iowa Barnstormers — the same arena team that produced Kurt Warner.
Before his pro career got started, Olson was a career backup in college, spending four seasons at Stanford before transferring as a graduate student to Clemson. He never threw a pass at Stanford and completed one of three passes at Clemson for a loss of 1 yard.
All of his passes in college can fit in one gif:
While Olson stands at 6’2, 220 pounds — decent size for a passer — he may have the least impressive athletic resume of any NFL quarterback ever.
Why sign David Olson?
The Ravens had other options at quarterback. Even if the team wanted to steer clear of Kaepernick, there’s a lengthy list of available players with NFL experience or, at the very least, positive passing yardage in college.
The logical explanation so far is that Olson’s time at Stanford gave him the inside track to John Harbaugh:
QB David Olson played for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. He gave Olson a good review to John. He'll join the #Ravens for practice tomorrow.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 28, 2017
But the realistic answer is that the Ravens don’t actually want to upgrade their quarterback situation.
“Those are two different categories of players,” Harbaugh told reporters when asked about the Ravens signing Olson instead of Kaepernick.
“It has to do with our need. Joe is day-to-day,” he added.
It won’t be much longer until Flacco is ready to return to action in training camp. When he does, he’ll be the unquestioned starter for Baltimore with Ryan Mallett ready to back him up.
That’s a stable quarterback situation, regardless if it can be improved or not.
By signing Olson, the Ravens can have a third quarterback throwing passes in camp and maybe brew some competition with Dustin Vaughan for the third-string job. When Flacco is ready to return, it could mean the end of the road for Olson, unless he can show he brings more value than Vaughan.
Why not sign Colin Kaepernick?
Unless Olson shocks everyone as the second coming of Warner, he’s a significantly worse player than Kaepernick. Just four years ago, Kaepernick was a starter in the Super Bowl, and in his most recent season in the NFL he finished with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions.
But signing Kaepernick would’ve immediately meant a quarterback competition in training camp. He would’ve been pitted against Mallett, and if he won the job, the pressure would be on Flacco to step up his game.
“I would like to see Colin get back in and at some point, maybe get another shot,” Flacco said, via the Ravens’ team site.
“I wouldn’t like that to be here. I do not want him to get another shot here,” he said with a laugh. “But yes, he can come here and have some fun. I think it would be a good spot for him.”
Flacco is due to count $24.55 million against the salary cap in 2017 but finished last season with 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. His 83.5 passer rating was 24th among starting quarterbacks, one spot behind Trevor Siemian.
In October, he finished a 24-16 loss to the Jets with no touchdowns, two interceptions, and 56.8 percent of his passes completed. Now imagine Flacco having a game like that in 2017 with Kaepernick standing on the sideline.
Harbaugh would have decisions to make, and he’d have to explain those decisions to the media.
There’s safety in the NFL when there’s no alternative. The Ravens committed huge amounts of money to Flacco in 2016 and want him to be their starter. As long as he’s healthy and ready to play, he’s the player the team wants under center.
Kaepernick’s chance at another go in the NFL may still be on the way, and it may even be with the Ravens. But as long as they have Flacco and Mallett ready for action, the team would evidently be more comfortable with camp arms like Olson.