So, they got it done!
Joe Flacco and the Ravens have hammered out a long term deal to avoid the dreaded Franchise Tag and provide the team with some much needed Salary Cap space for 2013.
At 1:30 this afternoon, Flacco will sign the deal that makes him – for now – the highest paid player in NFL history. The team will hold a celebratory press conference to coronate Flacco as their “elite” cornerstone quarterback.
There is no question the deal is huge and that it had to get done, but, at what future cost to the team?
So far, we know this much – $120.6M total value (although recent reports make it $120.8M), of which $52M is guaranteed, with a $29M Signing Bonus and Option Bonuses of $15M and $7M. The first year cash is $30M, 2-year payout is $51M and 3-year payout is $62M.
Based on reports from Albert Breer of the NFL Network, Flacco will receive $80.2M through 4 years, and $100.8M through year 5.
If accurate, the following would be Flacco’s Cap numbers:
Also, according to Breer, of the $52M in guaranteed money, only $30M (2013 Signing Bonus and Base Salary) is fully guaranteed. The rest (the two Option Bonuses) is guaranteed against “injury only” meaning that, prior to paying those Bonuses, the team could release Flacco for any reason, other than injury, and not have to pay those amounts. That said, on a deal this size, there’s no way the team is going to release Flacco in those early years because the acceleration of that Signing Bonus would be a Cap-killer.
The deal is very Cap-friendly in the early years, but is basically structured so that they will likely have to negotiate a restructure and extension in 2016, the 4th year of the deal. It’s highly unlikely that the team will keep him on the books at a close to $29M Cap number in 2016.
So, is it a good deal?
Only time will tell. After all, there is a huge amount of risk at play when you are talking about a contract this size. Flacco had a lot of leverage and the team is banking on him playing like the true “elite” quarterback he was during the team’s Super Bowl run. If he was under pressure to perform well enough to earn this type of deal, the pressure is now likely even greater to justify that he deserves it.
One major caution though – if the reports so far are accurate, it appears that the Ravens, in return for some very low Cap numbers in the first three years of the deal, have handed Flacco a huge amount of leverage in 2016.
If the Ravens and Flacco are unable to reach an agreement on an extension to reduce that 2016 Cap number, the team would either be forced to keep him at that $28.75M Cap number or release him and eat $25.85M in “dead money” against the Cap. Needless to say, neither is a very appealing option and will give Flacco a huge upper hand at that time.
For the Ravens, they can only hope that his play lives up to the deal and makes the decision on an extension much easier to make, when the time comes.