Joe Flacco is always Joe Cool, even with first-round quarterback Lamar Jackson on the block.
In his first public comments since Jackson was drafted about a month ago, Flacco stiff-armed the perception of chilliness between he and the rookie and shrugged off what drafting a first-round quarterback means about his future in Baltimore.
In short, Flacco was his typical self. He’s not getting worked up.
“Everybody wants to act like I’m holding some grudge, and that’s not how it is,” Flacco said. “I think you guys have been around me for a long time and you know the way I am. We welcome Lamar here with open arms, and that’s the same for me.”
It all began because Flacco, who is always quiet during the offseason, didn’t immediately reach out to Jackson after the Ravens drafted him, and declined to speak with reporters two days after Jackson was drafted because he was at a marketing event.
Flacco joked with a reporter who asked if too much was made of him not rolling out the red carpet.
“I think it depends on how you look at it. If you’re you guys, then no, too much wasn’t made out of it because I’m sure you got a lot of attention for it,” Flacco said with a grin. “I think it’s unfortunate that that’s what happened.”
Flacco said Quarterbacks Coach James Urban joked around with Flacco and Jackson a little bit about the subject, but the two haven’t had any in-depth conversations about what Jackson’s arrival means.
“Me and him have been good. Nothing has really needed to be said,” Flacco said. “Who knows, Lamar might have hated me two weeks ago because he was listening to you guys and he might have thought I hated him.”
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made waves after the Steelers drafted quarterback Mason Rudolph in the third round. Roethlisberger said he was surprised and questioned the front office’s decision. He added, “If he asks me a question, I might just have to point to the playbook.” He’s since said those comments were made in jest.
Flacco said nothing of the sort. He said Jackson hasn’t been peppering him with questions, but that there’s an open dialogue in the quarterbacks room.
“We want to have a great relationship,” Flacco said. “We’re all in this thing together. When we’re watching practice and doing all those things, we’re all helping each other all the time.”
More important than the relationship between Flacco and Jackson is what the move says about Flacco’s future in Baltimore. He’s been the team’s franchise quarterback for the past decade and led the Ravens to a Super Bowl XLVII win.
The past three years, however, Flacco’s stats have declined. That can be attributed to many factors, including his own play, the lack of effective targets and Flacco’s health (knee and back).
Flacco said he wasn’t surprised that the Ravens used a first-round pick on a quarterback.
“Obviously, when you pick a quarterback or anybody in the first round, it means something,” Flacco said. “I don’t know what that means; I don’t know exactly what it is. But that’s not my job to worry about what it is. My job is to keep my approach exactly what it’s been the last 10 years and help our team go win football games.”
Flacco has a lot on his plate this summer, as he’s trying to get up to speed with a crowd of new pass-catchers including Michael Crabtree, John “Smokey” Brown, Willie Snead IV and rookies Hayden Hurst, Mark Andrews, Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley.
For the first time since Flacco became the league’s highest-paid quarterback following his Super Bowl MVP performance, the Ravens can save money under the salary cap by parting ways with him next offseason.
Baltimore’s front office has been clear that Flacco is its guy in 2018, and whether it extends beyond that will likely be determined by Flacco’s performance this season and Jackson’s growth.
“We’re never promised anything except the down we’re playing in this league,” Flacco said. “I don’t know what the plan is, I don’t exactly know what’s going to happen, but I’m worried about right now. I’m worried about myself getting these guys ready and winning football games.”