Future is bright and no longer boring for Baltimore after Jackson trade

The Baltimore Ravens have long since been an exception in an NFL in which teams tend to have short memories but, with the final pick in the first round of the NFL Draft, they signalled a clear change in approach.

Winning a Super Bowl, as Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco did in 2013, generally buys you plenty of time.

The Ravens have been more than accommodating to Flacco since handing him a six-year $120.6million contract in the wake of that victory, sticking with him throughout a succession of disappointing seasons.

Given the outlay they committed to him, the Ravens have had little choice. However, with Flacco owed no more guaranteed money after the 2018 season, they have decided his time is almost up.

Baltimore traded back into the first round, striking a deal with Super Bowl champions the Philadelphia Eagles, to select Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.

And the contrast between Flacco and Jackson could not be more stark.

Flacco is an efficient pocket passer who has consistently completed over 60 per cent of his throws, but the Ravens' offense has become stagnant, predictable and boring with him at the helm, and he averaged a highly disappointing 5.7 yards per attempt in 2017.

Jackson is anything but boring. A dual-threat sensation blessed with excellent arm strength, frightening speed and elusiveness to evade defenders at will, he threw for 9,043 yards and 69 touchdowns and ran for another 4,132 yards and 50 scores at Louisville, winning the Heisman Trophy in 2016.

Despite his ability to make any throw even while on the run, Jackson was pegged by many as a player who may need to switch positions and move to wide receiver, with some considering him too slight to be able to succeed under center in the NFL.

The Ravens, though, ignored such critiques and by drafting Jackson after signing another dual-threat quarterback for him to learn from in Robert Griffin IIl, have declared that he is their future.

Jackson will likely spend his rookie year on the bench as the Ravens develop him and give him time to adapt to the rigours of the highest level.

But, should Flacco continue to struggle, then the pressure to get Jackson on the field is likely to mount quickly on head coach John Harbaugh.

Such pressure would be understandable. The Ravens have invested heavily in what is a play-off calibre defense, but have for too long been held back by their pedestrian offense.

Jackson has the potential to elevate the offense to a level that, providing the defense continues to excel, would make the Ravens contenders to go deep into the postseason.

His addition will undoubtedly test the resolve of the coaching staff to keep him on the bench but, regardless of when he sees the field, the Ravens have ensured they have a future at quarterback. It is a bright future, and it is certainly not a boring one.

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