Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco took questions from “kid reporters” during the team’s DraftFest on Saturday afternoon at the Inner Harbor, revealing his favorite color (purple, of course) and a variety of other personal nuggets at the annual draft-related fan event.
He still hasn’t revealed how he feels about the Ravens using their second first-round draft pick Thursday night to bring in a young quarterback who figures to be groomed as his eventual replacement.
Flacco, 33, was hustled away from a pair of reporters, from The Baltimore Sun and ESPN, after his Q&A with the kids and said only, “I don’t believe I’m talking today.”
Funny, that’s what team officials said earlier in the day, and — since Flacco has never been in the habit of dodging the media — it’s fair to conclude it was an organizational decision to create a human shield to keep inquiring minds from asking how he felt about the team’s maneuvering to get exciting college quarterback Lamar Jackson with the final pick of the first round.
Don’t know why there was any intrigue at all, since the team has no reason to be ashamed of that night-of draftmanship. General manager Ozzie Newsome obviously was very proud of the way he traded back twice in the first round to get tight end Hayden Hurst and then used his improved position in the later rounds to trade his way back into the 32nd slot.
Flacco might not be thrilled that he’s reached the stage in his career when it’s routine for the team to begin planning for a future without him, but he’s still going to be the franchise quarterback next year and maybe beyond. He’s quite capable of delivering diplomatic answers to the obvious questions that come with being in that position.
Instead, his agent, Joe Linta, did it for him in a text message to The Sun.
"We knew they were taking somebody,” Linta said. “Joe feels better than he has in a while and is really excited for the season."
It’s not like anybody’s being put out to pasture. The Ravens have signed three free-agent receivers and drafted two tight ends in the first three rounds. The whole offseason has been focused on giving Flacco everything he needs to direct a more effective offensive attack in 2018.
If he does that and leads the team back to the playoffs, the Ravens will have a happy dilemma next year. If his performance declines, they will be lauded for their proactive approach in this year’s draft and will be well-prepared to embark on a new era with a new-age mobile quarterback.
That would also present an uncomfortable situation, but one that many teams have navigated successfully in the past.
Remember when Brett Favre retired and then unretired, disrupting the progress of a promising young Aaron Rodgers? That was such an uncomfortable situation that Rodgers all but admitted he still held a grudge when he was the subject of a fawning “60 Minutes” feature after he had established himself as an elite quarterback.
To his credit, Jackson said all the right things about Flacco during interviews Friday at the Under Armour Performance Center and Saturday morning on the main stage at DraftFest.
“I’ve said before, if you won the Super Bowl, you’re the GOAT to me,” Jackson said. “He led his team to a Super Bowl, ended up getting the MVP. I just want to learn as much as I can from him.”
The Ravens might have telegraphed the decision to pursue Jackson at their pre-draft news conference earlier this month, when Newsome announced the team had signed Robert Griffin III to back up Flacco and hinted he might surprise everyone with his first-round pick.
Hurst wasn’t a big surprise, but Newsome’s ability to trade his way into enough value to deal back into the first round was impressive.
Flacco knew that was a possibility and — after 10 years as a starting quarterback in the NFL — knows which way the wind blows.
Maybe one of these days he’ll tell us about it.
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.
Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.
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