Pay me now or pay me later!
With Joe Flacco the Ravens chose to pay later and now they will REALLY have to pay.
The question is, “How much?”
Flacco’s agent Joe Linta has traveled a few laps around the radio dial and he’s been pounding his chest and stomping his feet to give credence to his belief that the Ravens quarterback should be the highest paid player in the game.
Seriously Joe, I’d like to party with you!
The notion of Flacco sitting atop the NFL’s salary leaderboard is laughable. Here’s a quarterback who up until his hot streak that kicked in on December 23, 2012, struggled with consistency and didn’t rank statistically in the top third of the league’s starting signal callers.
Flacco has never made a Pro Bowl (2/3 of the vote for which comes from players and coaches), he’s never thrown for 4,000 yards in a season and he’s topped out at 25 scoring throws in a single campaign.
Yet he has won in the playoffs and on the road where he holds the NFL’s all-time record for postseason wins.
But is that enough to justify Linta’s wish upon a star?
Did he go to Disneyworld with Flacco?
It’s easy for some to say, “Pay the man!” when they don’t have to stroke that check. They don’t have to answer to critics if Flacco fails to perform to the level of such an outrageous contract – one that may force the Ravens to part ways with some productive veterans (Anquan Boldin, Jacoby Jones, Vonta Leach, Bryant McKinnie) or fall short of the asking price for their shooting stars (Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger).
It’s easy to get caught up in the emotion and carried away by the intoxicating high of a Super Bowl win. It’s easy to support the demands of a quarterback whose smoking hot hand guided the Ravens to their second Super Bowl title.
And it’s easy to mess up the entire salary structure of the team too!
Some quarterbacks are special. They can consistently carry a team. They can cover the blemishes of a bad offensive line or a bad running game or a bad defense. Aaron Rodgers has amazing footwork and pocket presence and has the skillset to offset the Packers’ offensive line deficiencies.
Tom Brady can work with journeymen running backs by making the quick, short passing attack an extension of the running game.
Peyton Manning and Drew Brees can rack up points, forcing opposing offenses to become one-dimensional, thus making it easier for their respective defenses.
Can Joe Flacco be a player like any of these elite QB’s?
His body of work suggests the answer is a resounding “No!”
Sure that five game stretch at the end to win The Lombardi was incredibly impressive and if that is indicative of what we can expect going forward, then go ahead and spout out the “E” word.
But would you be willing to stroke that check, roll the dice for $100M+?
And let’s keep in mind that if the Ravens do that, they might not be able to bring back Anquan Boldin or Jacoby Jones. They may no longer be able to afford Bryant McKinnie whose reinsertion in the starting lineup improved three offensive line positions (LT, LG & RT).
Would Flacco perform as well without those guys in the mix?
The emotion, the wonderful afterglow of being crowned World Champions can’t sway sound decision making. And fortunately for Ravens fans it sounds like that the Ravens front office and ownership will avoid that temptation.
“We are not going to get caught up in the moment and do things to our salary cap and make decisions in the euphoria of winning that could hurt us in 2014 and 2015, like we did in 2001”, said Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti.
“Every single veteran was restructured, I think, so that every single veteran could stay, and then we ended up losing so many people the next year [in 2002]. We don’t want to do that. You have to make sure that the excitement of the day doesn’t cloud what we promise to build, and that was a consistent winner.”
So what will the final number be?
We’ll find out over the next couple of months.
Ozzie Newsome has been quick to point out that they’ve successfully negotiated lucrative long-term deals with players like Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata. Relatively speaking, those deals were tune-ups for the fat lady.
And in the case of the Ravens that “fat lady” is Joe Flacco.