Ravens GM says Lamar Jackson will draw free agents to Baltimore: 'Players respect talent'

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The Baltimore Ravens have several important questions to answer this offseason, most of which center on the future of longtime starting quarterback Joe Flacco and his 2018 successor, Lamar Jackson.

General manager Eric DeCosta may have answered all those questions this week.

Discussing the Ravens' 2019 plans with ESPN's Jamison Hensley, DeCosta all but confirmed Jackson as Baltimore's starter moving forward. Coach John Harbaugh may have done the same by keeping Flacco on the bench during the Ravens' 2018 playoff run, of course, but in addressing the team's offseason strategy, DeCosta seemed to make it clear that everything, from now on, centers on Jackson -- from salary cap management to free agency to the structure of the offense.

"This is a really, really fun, exciting offseason ... because we're doing something different," he said. "(Having) a quarterback on a rookie deal is a big part of that."

With a $26.5 million cap hit in 2019, Flacco is expected to be released or traded, Hensley noted. And DeCosta's insistence on Jackson as a key to 2019 make it all the more likely. Jackson is so highly regarded by the franchise, in fact, that the new general manager even touted the former first-round draft pick as the biggest reason potential playmakers will sign with the Ravens in the coming months.

"I think players respect talent," he said. "I think players respect athletes and competitors. Anyone can watch Lamar Jackson and see how talented he is and what kind of a competitor he is ... When they watch us play, they'll want to play here."

Drafted 32nd overall in 2018, Jackson started seven games -- eight, including his playoff game -- for the Ravens as a rookie. The team went 6-1 under his guidance down the stretch before falling to the Los Angeles Chargers in its first postseason game.

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