According to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Ravens and Joe Flacco’s agent, Joe Linta, will meet this week at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in an attempt to sign the Super Bowl XLVII MVP to a long-term contract.
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome finds himself in a rare situation as he and the team have no leverage during negotiations. According to Newsome, Flacco turned down a top-five contract prior to the start of the 2012 season, a gamble by Flacco that clearly paid off. Flacco hit a trifecta of crippling feats to the Ravens’ bank account during the playoffs- he was perfect with 11 TD’s and 0 INT’s, he won the Super Bowl and was named Super Bowl MVP.
Flacco is in position to demand top-tier money and will be paid top-tier money, whether that comes from a bank account in Baltimore or elsewhere. Reaching an agreement before the March 4 Franchise Tag becomes imperative because placing either of the two Franchise Tag designations (non-exclusive or exclusive) puts the Ravens in a difficult predicament.
To place the non-exclusive franchise tag on Flacco is something the Ravens shouldn’t even be considering. It would benefit the team because they would only be paying Flacco a fully guaranteed one-year contract of $14.6 million, which is below Flacco’s asking price as Newsome previously identified. However, the Ravens would run the risk of losing Flacco to another team interested in a Super Bowl MVP quarterback headed into the prime of his career.
If another team made Flacco an offer, the Ravens would have the opportunity to match it, but that would likely drive Flacco’s price tag above what the Ravens and Flacco would have been willing to agree on previously. The price becomes steep for the theoretical other team as not only would they have to sign Flacco to the expensive contract, but they would have to forfeit two 1st-round draft picks to the Ravens.
Given the mortgaging of future drafts recently by the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins to trade up to select Julio Jones or Robert Griffin III, teams clearly are willing to give up first round picks to draft a coveted player who hasn’t played a down in the NFL. A proven player like Flacco would certainly have suitors on the open market.
If a tag is placed on Flacco, it’ll have to be the Exclusive Franchise Tag, which pays Flacco a guaranteed one-year amount of more than $20 million. Not only would the Ravens be forced to pay more than they’re willing, they’ll be forced to release many key players to afford Flacco. If they have to go this route, they’ll also have practically no way of retaining any players from the Super Bowl team who hit the free agent market.
No matter what move the Ravens make, it’s going to make the front office cringe at the price tag and limit what the team can do to add pieces around Flacco. With football being the cut-throat business that it is, Flacco cannot be expected to take a “home team discount” because if his performance declines at all during the length of his contract, he has minimal job security.
Flacco shouldn’t be labeled as a bad guy based on his demands and the limitations it places on the team. He’s the franchise quarterback Baltimore has been looking for since Bert Jones and with franchise quarterbacks come big price tags. Through the constant bashing and criticism, he has earned his keep and deserves every dollar he is paid next season.
Owner Steve Bisciotti will ultimately end up writing a bigger check to Flacco than he ever imagined. However, seeing his latest Super Bowl ring on his finger as he signs the check will help soften the blow just a bit.