- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
Whether it's a marquee QB or an interior defensive lineman, no team can afford to lose its most valuable player.
So, who steps in if the unfathomable happens? Our NFL Nation reporters and Scouts Inc.'s Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl have teamed up to identify each team's most important player and which player in the 2014 draft each team can target to groom as a potential replacement -- MVP insurance. For some teams, their future stars may be slightly younger than others as draft-eligible non-seniors are denoted with an asterisk.
When Flacco was at his best in the playoffs (11 touchdowns and no interceptions), the Ravens won the Super Bowl. When he was throwing a career-worst 22 interceptions, Baltimore was an 8-8 team.
Flacco signed a six-year, $120.6 million contract before last season, but it's essentially a three-year deal. His salary-cap number becomes burdensome in the 2016 season, when it escalates to $28.5 million. So the Ravens have a couple more seasons before they have to address his contract again.
What the Ravens have taken for granted is Flacco's durability. He has never missed a start in his six-year career, which is why the Ravens can risk having an inexperienced and inexpensive backup in Tyrod Taylor. The Ravens have brought in competition for Taylor the past two seasons, but Taylor has remained by beating out Curtis Painter and Caleb Hanie. Still, the Ravens have sent the message that they aren't giving the No. 2 quarterback job to Taylor, who has never thrown a touchdown in an NFL regular-season game.
It's a different situation for the Ravens' overlooked MVP, tight end Dennis Pitta. The Ravens struggled for most of the season in the red zone and on third downs when Pitta was out with a hip injury. With Pitta being an unrestricted free agent, the Ravens have to decide whether to put the franchise tag on him or sign him to a long-term deal.
Tight end is the thinnest position on the Ravens' roster right now. The only two players under contract are practice squad players Matt Furstenberg and Nathan Overbay.