The Ravens were looking toward the future when they signed Malik Cunningham off the New England Patriots’ practice squad.

Baltimore didn’t have a need at quarterback with superstar Lamar Jackson just months removed from a five-year contract extension. But it viewed Cunningham as a player who could contribute at wide receiver while he develops behind the NFL’s premier dual-threat QB, a team source told Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard.

“(We) hope, eventually, (he plays) QB,” the source said. “We had a spot, we can use him short-term at WR, but it’s a QB league and he fits our offense. Low-risk move. Could pay off next year. It’s not really about this year.”

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Cunningham primarily practiced at wideout for the Patriots, with occasional reps at his natural position at quarterback. The undrafted rookie saw minimal gameday opportunities, playing just six total regular-season snaps before leaving Tuesday to join the Ravens.

All six of those snaps came in a Week 6 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. The Patriots elevated Cunningham from the practice squad for each of their last two games but did not play him in either.

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NFL rules require the Ravens to carry Cunningham on their 53-man roster for at least three weeks. Even if he doesn’t see playing time during Baltimore’s playoff push, he should benefit from learning under Jackson — his former college teammate at Louisville — and playing in an offense crafted to maximize the strengths of mobile quarterbacks.

Cunningham took the roster spot previously occupied by Ravens wide receiver/punt returner Devin Duvernay, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.

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Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said the team tried to keep Cunningham but acknowledged the appeal of joining a team like Baltimore.

“They sold him on the opportunity,” Belichick said. “The offense. He and Lamar. Certainly, their offense suits Malik better than probably any other offense in the league does, so it makes sense — as a quarterback.”

Many Patriots players posted farewell messages to Cunningham on social media, with offensive tackle Trent Brown telling the 25-year-old to: “Go flourish where your talent is respected.”

Featured image via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images