BALTIMORE There is a beginning and an end to everything. Joe Flacco took over as the Baltimore Ravens quarterback years ago and helped to deliver a Super Bowl win in 2012.
The magical run that Flacco and the Ravens went on resulted in a huge contract that made him the highest paid player in the NFL. Unfortunately, the deal made it difficult for the Ravens to make significant additions to the offense.
Over the last few seasons, Flacco and the Ravens have struggled. The writing was clearly on the wall that Flacco was going to have to be replaced eventually. As the offense sputtered, the need for a jolt became more evident— enter former Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Jackson, a Heisman Trophy winner in 2016, is exactly what the Ravens offense need. He is a dynamic playmaker who adds an explosive element.
Having Jackson and Flacco in the building at the same time will be a first for the Ravens.
Flacco has not truly had any competition since he has been in Baltimore. The likes of Ryan Mallett and others have not been able to challenge him. However, that will change when Jackson takes the field this week.
As a first-round pick, the pressure will be on to get Jackson on the field. The coaching staff is in a good place with him having worked with the likes of Colin Kaepernick and Michael Vick in the past.
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg worked with Vick in Philadelphia. The same can be said for quarterbacks coach James Urban.
Greg Roman was the offensive coordinator with Kaepernick in San Francisco. They all know how to properly manage a quarterback with the versatile skill set that Jackson possesses.
Now, it will come down to how they go about integrating Jackson into the game plan. It won't be easy since his skill set is vastly different from that of Flacco.
Fortunately, they also have Robert Griffin III in place to help mentor Jackson. It doesn't seem like Flacco is interested in doing so and to be honest, it's not his obligation to help bring along the guy who is going to replace him.
Flacco will cost the Ravens $24.7 million against the salary cap this year and the number jumps to $27 million in 2019. At some point, they will have to pull the plug and let him move on. They' will suffer a $16 million hit in dead money if they do so next year.
In the meantime, Flacco will push to keep his job and try to find the magic that allowed him to have such a successful playoff run in 2012 but time is of the essence. Head coach John Harbaugh's years with the team may be running short. There is a lot of pressure to win now in Baltimore. It all starts with OTAs this week.