INDIANAPOLIS – The Baltimore Ravens and representatives for quarterback Joe Flacco got off to an encouraging start in contract discussions that launched Saturday at the NFL scouting combine, according to his agent.
Negotiations are scheduled to continue with the Flacco camp pursuing a $15 million annual average on a multi-year deal.
“I think it was very productive,” agent Joe Linta told 24×7. “It’s very clear that Joe is an important part of the Ravens team. We’ll keep working away. I’m optimistic that we can work something out.”
This marks the beginning of what shapes up as a lengthy negotiation for Flacco, who’s under contract through the 2012 season. He’s due a $6.76 million base salary in 2012 after triggering an escalator clause in his original rookie contract.
Team officials have expressed optimism that a deal can be brokered.
“Sometimes in negotiations, it can be done in two days or it can take 12 months,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “I think there is a willingness with Joe Linta and Joe Flacco’s part, and Steve and the organization to try and get the deal done. We’re going to push toward that.”
Flacco has a 44-20 record as a starter in the regular season, winning five playoff games since being drafted in the first round out of Delaware.
He’s been to the AFC championship game twice, losing both times. He came within a dropped Lee Evans touchdown pass of making it to the Super Bowl, losing in the AFC title game to the New England Patriots.
Flacco passed for 306 yards and two touchdowns in that game, outplaying Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. For his career, he’s the Ravens’ all-time leading passer with 13,816 yards and 80 touchdowns for an 86.0 quarterback rating.
“Both John Harbaugh and Ozzie fully believe in Joe Flacco and they’re right to do so,” former Ravens coach Brian Billick said. “They know what it is to not have a quarterback. They’ve got one. The question you have to ask is, ‘If not Joe Flacco, then who, then what?’ So, the money they’re going to have to spend on him, I think Joe has proven himself.
“Joe is not going to really be able to take over that team, the whole mentality of it until Ray moves on. That’s not Ray’s fault, but he’s the face of that team. Everybody is looking for more out of Joe that way. It’s not going to happen until Ray leaves. When it does, I think you’ll see it out of Joe.”