For the first time in his career, Joe Flacco has legitimate competition for the starting quarterback job, as the Baltimore Ravens traded back into the first round Thursday night to swipe Heisman Trophy-winning signal-caller Lamar Jackson.
With the pick, the Ravens are attempting to have their cake and eat it too -- win now and build a future with a young quarterback.
"Joe Flacco is our quarterback," head coach John Harbaugh said after Thursday's first round, via the team's official website. "That's the thing we have to remember. Lamar's going to have a great chance to develop."
Added General Manager Ozzie Newsome: "We're trying to win this year. And in order for us to win this year, we need Joe Flacco. That's why we went and got the receivers, that's why we got the tight end [Hayden Hurst], to give Joe some help. We want to win this year."
Committing to the former Super Bowl MVP in 2018 is not a difficult short-term plan. Come next season, the Ravens can save $10 million on the salary cap by cutting Flacco, which could be the time the Ravens turn to Jackson.
"I want to learn a lot," Jackson said. "A guy who wins the Super Bowl, he's the [greatest of all-time] to me. I look up to [Flacco], just want to learn a lot from his experience and how he led his team."
The Ravens will likely need to overhaul the offensive plan for Jackson completely, so giving the electric signal-caller a year to get his feet wet would be ideal while the coaching staff game-plans a transition from the statuesque Flacco to the player Michael Vick said was better than himself coming out of college. While most young quarterbacks play right away, the Ravens' situation mirrors the move made by the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes last season in many ways. Jackson's possible red-shirt season also displays why it was important for the Ravens to trade back into the first round to grab the QB; getting that fifth-year option was vital in the developmental process.
While it might take a year before the Ravens hand the reins to Jackson, they are getting a player with a massive chip on his shoulder after being questioned throughout the draft process and falling to the final pick of Day 1.
"They're going to get a Super Bowl out of me," he told NFL Network's Deion Sanders after being selected 32nd. "Believe that."
The tide of NFL quarterbacks is slowly changing. The transition will be obvious when the ahead-of-the-curve Ravens eventually take the torch from Flacco and pass it to the dynamic Jackson, even if that takes a year or so.