Evan Washburn: Ravens to evaluate if Lamar Jackson can be backup or if they'll keep RG3

When the Ravens traded back into the first round to draft Lamar Jackson, they signaled that the Joe Flacco era will be ending at some point in the near future. As soon as next season, Flacco can be cut free from his gigantic contract and the Ravens can make Jackson their new franchise quarterback. It's a matter of if, not when.

With that being said, the transition isn't going to happen at the beginning of the upcoming season. As Jackson's up-and-down preseason debut demonstrated last week, there's still work to be done to get him acclimated to the NFL. And so the question now shifts to: Will the Ravens feel comfortable enough with Jackson as their backup quarterback that they'll release Robert Griffin III before the start of the season or will they decide to carry three quarterbacks? Put another way, the question -- at least right now -- shouldn't be if Jackson can beat out Flacco, the question should be if Jackson can beat out RG3.

That's a question CBS Sports' Evan Washburn recently took a look at during a trip to Ravens training camp (video is above).

"I think what it's done is maybe tempered some of the discussion that Lamar's going to come in here and wow everyone and become the starting quarterback Week 1. At the moment, he's listed as the No. 3. And one of the discussions here in Baltimore is, will the Ravens keep three quarterbacks on the roster with Joe as the established starter and maybe RG3 as the backup, and then Lamar as a player that's continuing to learn?

"They have to -- and the coaching staff will do this over the next three to four weeks with these preseason games -- decide whether they're confident enough if Joe were to go down in Week 1, would they want Lamar to be the starter? These are things that the fans weren't talking about when he was drafted, but the reality has set in a bit."

It's worth noting that even if Jackson isn't ready to be the backup quarterback, he's probably still ready to see the field in exotic packages. The Ravens have said that they want to use Jackson as a weapon even with Flacco on the field at the same time.

In RG3, the Ravens would be keeping an experienced quarterback as their backup who can also serve as a mentor for Jackson. RG3 hasn't played since the 2016 season, but he has played in 42 games as an NFL quarterback, which is more experience than most backups offer. Plus, he's already been a willing mentor to Jackson.

"I'm trying to help nurture him as much as I possibly can, so that when he flies away, he is ready to fly away," Griffin told Sports Illustrated's Ben Baskin earlier this summer. "Because when you watch it fly away, at that point it's up to that bird."

How the Ravens handle their quarterback depth chart will be something to keep an eye on as the preseason unfolds. The Ravens are back in action on Thursday, when they host the Rams.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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