Ravens QB Joe Flacco focused on winning, not backup Lamar Jackson

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco broke his silence over Lamar Jackson on Thursday, shooting down any notion that he holds a grudge against the first-round pick and repeatedly emphasizing that he's not focused on what the future holds.

"When you pick a quarterback or anybody in the first round, it means something," Flacco said in his first comments since Jackson was the No. 32 overall pick on April 26. "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 for the last 10 years and help our team go win football games."

During Thursday's practice, Flacco and Jackson occasionally talked when standing off to the side. Earlier in the week, Flacco gave a fist-bump to Jackson after a big play.

The relationship between Flacco and Jackson had become a hot topic because the Super Bowl-winning quarterback didn't immediately contact Jackson after he was drafted. Flacco also declined comment to reporters at a team draft function.

"I think it's unfortunate that ... everybody wants to act like I'm holding some grudge," Flacco said. "That's not how it is. You guys have been around me for a long time and you know how I am. We welcome Lamar here with open arms. That's the same for me."

Ravens quarterback coach James Urban joked with Flacco and Jackson about their publicly perceived feud. Head coach John Harbaugh described the relationship between Flacco and Jackson as "great."

"They've been working together and it's been really good," Harbaugh said.

On draft day, Ravens officials insisted Flacco is the starting quarterback this season and Jackson needed time to develop. They cautioned anyone from jumping to conclusions about when Jackson would unseat Flacco, who has struggled in the five seasons since winning the Super Bowl.

Baltimore could gain $10.5 million in salary-cap space if it parts ways with Flacco after this season, or $18.5 million if Flacco is released or traded after June 1, 2019. The Ravens can create $20.25 million in space by releasing or trading Flacco after the 2019 season, when he will turn 35.

"We're never promised anything besides basically the down that we're playing in this league," Flacco said.

Flacco looks to be in the best shape of his career. During Thursday's practice, he was sharp in a revamped passing attack, showing an instant rapport with free-agent addition Michael Crabtree.

But Ravens coaches have been in a self-described "laboratory" to figure out creative ways to get Jackson on the field for his rookie season. In the past, Flacco hasn't hidden his dislike of being removed from under center, ripping the use of the Ravens' wildcat offense as a "high school offense" in 2013.

"Listen, I want to win football game," Flacco said Thursday. "Whatever is going to help us win. I'm probably going to maintain that I think myself under center is our best chance to win football games."