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Preston: The Ravens are finally thinking about life after Joe Flacco

Sports columnist Mike Preston talks about the Ravens two first-round picks. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)

I am glad Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti finally started thinking about life after Joe Flacco.

Bisciotti didn't want to approach that thought several months ago at the "State of the Ravens" news conference after the 2017 season. At the time, he seemed to suggest Flacco had several more productive years ahead of him and that most franchise quarterbacks weren't contemplating retirement at the age of 33, 34 or 35.

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But on Thursday night, the Ravens drafted Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson with the No. 32 overall pick in the first round and it's apparent that the Ravens are thinking about life after Flacco.

Finally.

Actually, the search should have started about two years ago when Flacco was overcoming knee surgery. The signs were beginning to show of a quarterback who was still playing at a high level but whose body was beginning to break down. And then last year he struggled with back problems through the first quarter of the season.

I am not suggesting that Flacco was the main reason for all of the Ravens offensive problems during the past two or three seasons. It's just that when you play in the NFL for 10 seasons and take some of the shots he has taken, the body starts to slow down.

A decline is expected.

I don't know if Jackson is the answer, but I like the pressure he puts on Flacco. He won't beat him out for the starting job, but maybe he'll prod Flacco a little after years of the Ravens coddling him.

The Ravens have privately questioned Flacco's work ethic for years, but they seldom pushed the issue. Maybe now Flacco puts in the extra time working with his receivers outside of the team's training facility during the offseason. Maybe during the season, he spends more time in the film room or on the field after practice.

Thursday night reminded me of the Ravens' first draft here in Baltimore when they selected UCLA left tackle Jonathan Ogden with the No. 4 pick. Of course Tony Jones, then the current starter, was upset and he knew his time in Baltimore was short. Jones lasted one season before he went to Denver and Ogden was shifted from left guard to left tackle.

I'm not sure how much time Flacco has left in Baltimore. Knowing Flacco, he'll handle the situation like a true professional. He is very aware that the NFL is a business. He won't pout. He is a competitor and sulking is not his nature. With some new weapons and stable health, he'll have a good season in 2018 and possibly another in 2019.

I could care less how long he plays as long as he is productive.

But if not, the Ravens have another option in Jackson. They got a security blanket because Bisciotti reconsidered and knew the right time to acquire him and put some energy back into this franchise was right now.

It happened Thursday night.

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