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Flacco Contract Could Choke the Ravens

Lombardi's Way Flacco Contract Could Choke the Ravens

Posted in Lombardi's Way
92+ Comments Leslie says I'm jumping in. In my opinion, Ray didn't make misstatements. Every word he spoke of, was clear to me. I don't get the hostility toward Ray from Baltimore. I no

The Baltimore Ravens went on a magnificent run during the 2012 season that culminated in the franchise’s second World Championship. Led by quarterback Joe Flacco who had a stellar romp through the playoffs, John Harbaugh’s troops overcame the odds and won 4 consecutive playoff games (three as underdogs) to capture The Lombardi.

Flacco, free from the seemingly binding chains of former offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, flourished and as an unrestricted free agent and his timing couldn’t have been better. Flacco cashed in to the tune of a then record-setting $120.6 million contract.

Owner Steve Bisciotti and the team’s front office bet on Flacco, believing that he had turned the corner and was that franchise quarterback they longed for – and they paid him accordingly.

But this season, many of those old, forgettable habits are rearing their ugly heads again. The attack mode that characterized the postseason offense, led by Flacco, has vanished and they are once again stuck in first gear – their struggles perhaps more pronounced than ever.

There are a multitude of problems contributing to the league’s 30th ranked offense. The line has been a sieve and it has grounded the ground game. Wide receivers not named Torrey Smith have been rather pedestrian and struggle to gain separation. Tight ends are virtually stealth, hardly seen and rarely impactful.

The offensive schemes have been questioned, and justifiably so. Juan Castillo’s zone blocking schemes have been embraced as enthusiastically as a vampire yearns for sunlight. Jim Caldwell seems to have unleashed his inner Cam Cameron and the resulting offense is about as cutting edge as an 8-track player.

And it begs the question, “Why?”

Is it personnel? Is it the head coach’s preferred modus operandi?

Is it the quarterback?

Were the Ravens so intoxicated by that 5 game stretch of Flacco’s last season that they were willing to use that small body of work as the basis for his record setting contract and ignore the inconsistencies of the previous 78 games?

Those inconsistencies are back as are a few of his alarming tendencies that should be in the distant rearview mirror for a 6-year starter in the NFL.

  • He stares down receivers
  • He forces passes into tight coverage
  • He predetermines where he’s going with the ball prior to the snap
  • He lacks the field and pocket awareness of top quarterbacks
  • He too often takes a sack that removes the possibility of a field goal

These aren’t the qualities of a franchise quarterback. Nor are these daunting statistics:

 

* 5th highest interception total in the NFL 

Flacco defenders will point to the other weaknesses on offense as the primary culprits to these dismal statistics and with good reason. However quarterbacks paid much less on equally, perhaps even more challenged offenses are performing better than Flacco – the Bills, Dolphins, Cardinals, Browns, Titans, Panthers, Rams and Bucs come to mind.

Might Steve Bisciotti be suffering from buyer’s remorse?

Unfortunately the owner’s investment didn’t come with a money back guarantee and if Flacco and the Ravens offense don’t get things fixed, the big-armed Super Bowl XLVII MVP could become a noose around the franchise’s neck.

We’ve all heard that Flacco’s deal has been written more like a 3-year contract due to the $28.55M cap figure that waits in 2016. Conventional thinking is that the exorbitant cap number would trigger an extension for Flacco BUT… if he’s not worthy of extending and therefore not worthy of having a $28.55M cap number, they may really have no choice but to release him and take the cap killing hit.

Given the healthy size of his signing bonus ($29M paid last March) and the $15M bonus that he’s going to get this coming Spring, the Ravens aren’t really going to be able to “easily” get out from under the deal should he continue to not perform to the level of his contract, until 2016.

But even then, while saving $2.7M in cap space, they would still be forced to carry almost $26M in dead money against the Cap and given the team’s history, that’s not likely to happen.

The Ravens could potentially make him a June 1, 2015 release, again should he continue to underperform, but that would clear only $4M in cap space for 2015, and still cost them the close to $26M against the Cap in 2016. Since he would not be terribly expensive (for a QB) in 2015 (@ $14.55M), the Ravens would probably give him the 2015 season to continue to re-establish his contract-worthiness.

2017 is really the first year that it would be reasonable – from a cap perspective – to release Flacco and create $15M in cap space (but “only” have to carry $15M in dead money).

Flacco’s new deal ONLY made sense IF he performs at the 2012 postseason level. Otherwise it could stall the franchise. So far the signs aren’t good and there’s really no way that they can get out from under Flacco’s new deal any time soon.

Therefore in order to get their money’s worth, the Ravens will have to spend more to protect their investment yet available cap dollars won’t come easy. Both starting tackles are unrestricted free agents and the team doesn’t have a tight end under contract for 2014.

Plus the team can’t ignore the defense. Arthur Jones is practically playing himself off the roster with his ascent and the vastly improved Jimmy Smith is up for a new contract after the 2014 season.

It’s a conundrum of sorts for sure, leaving the Ravens with little choice other than to lean on next year’s draft and their current young offensive players like Ricky Wagner, Ryan Jensen, Gino Gradkowski, Marlon Brown, Deonte Thompson, Kyle Juszczyk and Matt Furstenburg to perform well.

Of course Flacco playing to the level of his pay might help too but outside of those unforgettable performances to close out the 2012 season, the signal caller’s body of work has been average to above average.

And unfortunately that just doesn’t measure up to his elite pay.

 

NOTE: There is one unknown variable and that is whether the 2015 Option bonus of $7M is “fully” guaranteed or perhaps only guaranteed for injury. If only for injury, they could release him in March of 2015 – before paying the $7M bonus – and increase the above Cap savings on 2015 to $5.75M which reduces the 2016 dead money down to around $21M. If things do not get better before then, let’s hope that that bonus is guaranteed for injury only.

 

 

Brian McFarland contributed to this article.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin to being John Bonham. Follow Tony on Twitter @RussellStReport. More from Tony Lombardi
91 comments
RavenChick
RavenChick

I'm not sure what you were listening too, but everyone I know, including me, understood what Ray was saying. It amazes me how illiterate you make Ray sound. Those young ppl are always fired up and understand completely what Ray says when he speaks to ppl around the country. It's interesting to watch phony ppl like you, take shots of insults at Ray.

steve
steve

I just dont understand...everyone says Flacco should get a pass, his o-line is bad, his receivers arent up to par. BUT you pay a guy the highest paid contract in the NFL and youre kind of expecting him to perform at a level the elevates everyone elses talent. Thats what the top qb's do. And if you think things are going to get better? Think again. His contract eats up the salary cap, and if you think we are going to get above average offensive lineman with a small salary cap...wrong again. Hes now running primarily in shotgun and he still cant complete passes. Hes been an average qb, always just average. He throws a mean lob/jump/pass interference ball and that got him his contract. im grateful for the superbowl, but I cant see Joe himself carrying the team to another

awoods
awoods

At the end of the day there are two types of fans in ravens nation, fans who hate flacco and fans who like flacco. I really find it hard to believe that his contract or his play are the main reason why we are where we are. This team has major issue on both sides of the ball and if your going to point out a issue of the ravens being choked than note all accounts not just flaccos.

JerryB
JerryB

We agree to.....disagree! The talent comparison may be subject to debate, but the FACTS of the past 5 1/2 years are...indisputable! And, what he's working with this year is incomparably.........pathetic! No other QB in the NFL has a comparable dearth of surrounding talent.......

Brian M
Brian M

The article does not say "dump the QB". It does say that when the QB has a $120M contract, there are certain expectations and Flacco isn't meeting those expectations. It also points out that the structure of the deal will make for a big problem for the Ravens in 2015-16 IF Flacco's play does not get better. Yes, there are a lot of issues with the offense, so it's clearly not all of Flacco's fault (or close to it), but he is also making his fair share of mistakes. Mistakes that a $120M QB should not be making. I don't think anyone wants to see the Ravens and Flacco end up in a situation where the team has to consider releasing him. Hopefully, Flacco and the O improve and it's a total non-issue.

catgirl54
catgirl54

The problem with owners is that they LOVE Superbowl rings. Get them a ring and you can practically write your own ticket. Short-sighted, but the value of the quarterback goes up as soon as the Lombardi makes its' way into the room. Because this prize is so coveted, Flacco probably would have been signed by a dozen other teams if we didn't sign him. There are only a few outstanding quarterbacks. Even those considered upper tier -- Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler, Philip Rivers, to name a few -- don't have the Lombardi. So what choice did the Ravens have? It is what it is. Let's just hope he's not regressing.

Jrock
Jrock

They all won a Super Bowl. Not just Flacco. He did not do it by himself. If it was not for Ray Lewis and those speeches that didn't make since there would be no Super Bowl. If it were not for 4th and 29 there would be no Super Bowl. May I remind you flacco dropped the ball in that chargers game. If we lost there wouldn't have been playoffs. He threw that bs check down. A great individual effort I might add. HE THREW A CHECK DOWN ON 4th AND 29. What's the odds a 4th and 29 can be converted. Suggs defensive player of the year. FLACCO has no real accomplishments. Jacoby was the true MVP. # keepingitreal

Go Baltimore
Go Baltimore

All you Flacco supporters need to look up Flaccos statistics in the regular season a below 50% QB rating is not an Elite QB nor is it worth 120.6 Million, with that being said he is the BEST QB the Ravens have ever had and he has won a Superbowl and DONE AMAZING IN THE PLAYOFFS, but he constantly is throwing dumb picks especially into double coverage which is beyond frustrating. Also, he does not have the "GREAT" receiving core he did last year, especially the ones who made him look awesome and saved his ass countless times. I like Flacco, but as a an Elite QB, NO THANK YOU!!!! Teams make the playoffs not individuals that's why we made it the past 6 years and showed up, but if it weren't for the teams saving him we wouldn't have a Superbowl or numerous Conference Championships. GO RAVENS, I am not hating just stating my opinion I would throw Tyrod Taylor in a few games at least he can avoid a sack lunch!!!

Andy
Andy

How soon everyone forgets when a team loses a few games. The Ravens could have locked in Flacco at the beginning of last year (for considerably less money), but chose to sign Rice instead!!!!....How is that going for them?? Flacco has never had a #1 WR in the entire time he has played in Baltimore. His top 2 second tier WR's are gone (1 in San Fran, one injured in the preseason). I Like Torrey and Marlon, but neither of these guys would start on any other team, at least not yet.... The main problem is Rice and the running game, but this isn't mentioned in the article that they were DEAD LAST in the NFL rushing prior to the Bears game and still insanely low given the amount of money Rice is being paid. I agree this isn't Flacco's best year, but to throw him under the bus when the rest of the team, especially Rice, are playing at an extremely low level is unfair. Also, you seem to point out all of Flacco's weaknesses and bad stats, but forgot to mention that he has the most playoff road wins, has been to 3 AFC Championships, and has the most wins as a starting QB in his first 5 years, Super Bowl MVP and ring, etc.... Any of this ring a bell??.. I hope the Ravens do release Flacco in 2015 or whenever and go back to the QB carousel they had prior to him. That worked well right? Or maybe the Ravens would rather have a Gabbert, Ponder, Pryor, etc.

Red
Red

Hey Tony- Great article. Why not bring back Jim Zorn? Joe had his best year when he was the QB coach, and he's not working right now. The rumor was that he didn't get along with Cam. But Cam's gone so....I think it would help to have a position coach talk to Joe when he's not on the field, in person.

Derek Arnold
Derek Arnold

The defense wasn't good last year. And they needed a goalline stand to win only after they coughed up a huge lead. The "defense being tired" excuse doesn't work either (you say no excuses, but that's absolutely an excuse). Ravens won Time of Possession Sunday 35-30, but the D still gave up a looooong TD drive in the 4th quarter. Would you like Joe to say "I'm the 9th best QB in the league?" I want a guy who thinks he's the best even if he's wrong (he is). The stuff about Ray...come on, man. Nobody knew what he was saying most of the time. Joe made those comments in good fun, not as some sort of shot at Ray.

Brian
Brian

Are we really taking to the "dump the quarterback" route already? Flacco is definitely having a down year, but consider ALL of the things he's had to deal with. He's had to establish a report with a lot of new receivers on the fly. Torrey Smith has really been the only consistent pass catcher on the team, and even he has had his struggles. The offensive line has been an abomination all season, which has resulted in a putrid run game. Flacco is good, but he's not Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. The Ravens were not built to be a pass-first team. Nobody can deny that Flacco has contributed to the Ravens' struggles this season. He's made some pretty boneheaded decisions that have cost them games. It's absolutely ridiculous, however, to panic about Flacco's long-term viability before the season is even over. And regarding Flacco's contract... What were the Ravens supposed to do? Let Flacco walk and give the job to Tyrod Taylor? Do you actually expect me to believe everybody in the WORLD wouldn't have ripped the Ravens to shreds over that? Give credit to Flacco and his agent for backing the Ravens into a corner.

Joshua
Joshua

There goes that damned "reply" button again! Haha. Coward.

Jrock
Jrock

Flacco has had a few bad years. Now we don't have the leadership and the talent on offense to carry him it shows.

JerryB
JerryB

Harbaugh's got his giant "paw" prints all over this offense - hard to believe that both Cameron and Caldwell are cut from the same cloth! As for the criticism of Flacco, it bears repeating OFTEN, apparently, that this franchise wasn't going to win "jack" without him! Do they award TD's for...."style points"? Is he perfect? Hell, no! Is he Brady or P. Manning? Hell, no! But, has he won more games and playoffs/championships than either of them since entering the league 5 1/2 years ago? Hell.....YES! And, did he do it with LESS surrounding talent than they've had the privilege of working with? Hell...YES! Now, as any competent attorney would say, "I REST MY CASE"........

Joshua
Joshua

Since you cowardly disabled the "reply" button above, I will further comment here. My quote about firing Harbs was a sarcastic attempt to help proliferate your agenda that Harbs is a bad coach. Talk about "way over the head." And my math homework is completed. Thanks for checking on that.

Tgun#42
Tgun#42

Combine that with Ngata, Webby, Sizzles, and Rices contract, Bmore, we have ourselves a problem.

wickedsolo
wickedsolo

Tony has never really been a big fan of Flacco...so... :)

RavenChick
RavenChick

I read that insulting article, and it's ashamed you aunt that trash. Like I stated before, everything Ray said was very clear and was ill advised. Yes, you and the Baltimore media is fake. When the ravens lost to the patriots off if cub duffs missed field goal, what part of his speech couldn't You NOT understand? I didn't hear not one person complain about not understanding what Ray stated. Yes, I take any false attack you or any member if the media says regarding his words and heart. You and the rest of Baltimore and the fake media, along with that insulting articles can go to hell!!!

Derek Arnold
Derek Arnold

Never once did I call Ray illiterate. I think you hear what you want to hear. I loved Ray. That doesn't mean everything he ever said or did is above reproach. It's funny how people take it so personally when anyone (another fan or even former teammate) has anything remotely unflattering to say about him. I'll ignore the ridiculous personal attack you made on me ("phony," really?) and instead present to you just one other example of someone - this time a local reporter - echoing Joe: "I understand that Lewis was spoiled by most of the Baltimore media, including me, when he was a player here. He said crazy stuff all the time and almost everyone acted like it made sense. Some in the press even treated him like he was a genius. The fact that he could usually deliver the goods on the field on Sunday went a long way in terms of the press largely ignoring his mis-statements and inflated sense of having some kind of inner wisdom." http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/tv/z-on-tv-blog/bal-maybe-its-time-for-ray-lewis-to-start-thinking-quit-acting-like-a-hotdog-20131120,0,3842183.story#ixzz2lNo6j5ux

Curtis Dickey
Curtis Dickey

PG County Raven... Post that on the message board. That's a very interesting article even if it could be 100% BS. I know Harbs will vehemently deny it, but with him flat out lying sometimes, you never know what the truth is.

Tony Lombardi
Tony Lombardi

Tom Brady has had less to work with this season.

Brian M
Brian M

Also, the article does not say that the Ravens should not have re-signed Flacco. He played very, very well at the right time and hit the lottery in that he was a pending FA. That said, the structure of the deal is very much a concern for the reasons mentioned. That "3-year deal that will force an extension in 2016" could become an anchor if they are stuck with having to carry him with a $28M Cap number or release him and eat a boat-load of dead money because they don't want to commit any more future money to him.

Candygirl
Candygirl

Thank you. I am sooooo glad somebody saw the the MVP should have been Jacoby and not Flacco!!

awoods
awoods

He just threw his career high in interceptions this year with 13, your average qb throws more than that every season. What's the excuse gonna be when tyrod or whoever else's replaces flacco as all the haters wish performs as bad or worse than what flacco has performed. You say he is not worth the money but would be on another team right now and we would be playing the qb carousel again....smart right?

Tony Lombardi
Tony Lombardi

So because you can't operate a simple reply button like everyone else I'm a coward. Pretty consistent with the rest of your logic.

Derek Arnold
Derek Arnold

Joshua, nobody is "deleting the reply button." When the particular thread gets too long, it stops showing up. You can still click one of the "reply" buttons above (in the same thread) and your response will show up below the other replies. Thanks for participating.

Tony Lombardi
Tony Lombardi

Jerry, would Peyton Manning or Tom Brady teams ever win a playoff game if they went 4 of 10 for 34 yards and an interception for a QB Rating of 10.0 like Flacco? Highly doubtful so it goes without saying that Flacco had just as good a supporting cast (or better) as either of those players. I rest MY case. :-)

Tony Lombardi
Tony Lombardi

"Proliferate my agenda" ... nice! Yes, I've been critical of Harbaugh but I've never written that he's a bad coach. Agenda? Not so much. What's yours? I'm beginning to think you like me a little too much Josh. It's starting to feel a little uncomfortable. Maybe you should take up chess.

Bruce_Almty
Bruce_Almty

Every team has their core of star players that are paid handsomely; Ravens are no different. It's always a surprise when your stars are released, it happens to every team in the world of the salary cap.

JerryB
JerryB

Finally! I'm outa....here!

JerryB
JerryB

The Ravens "D" had trouble holding a 28 point lead in the second half of the Super Bowl! And, going back to the opener in Denver this year, the defense gave up 7 TD passes! Look, there's a lot wrong with this team right now, but Flacco is far from the primary concern......

Curtis Dickey
Curtis Dickey

Brady every game.. several times every game has time to eat a sandwich in the pocket with the time he has. Sure he gets the ball out quick most of the time, but when he doesn't, he has the comfort of knowing that his OL pass pro will hold up. Joe, this year, is rushing things b/c he is shellshocked from getting hit so much. His mechanics are breaking down a lot more now (thus why he needs a QB coach drilling him at his side). I'll take Peyton, b/c yes he does make his OL better. He is the best... probably in NFL history. I disagree with Tom, though. Its the system and it is so successful b/c he is an expert at running it. When the system breaks down and he does get people in his face (ie. playoffs in recent years), he looks pedestrian. And by the way, you are completely wrong in that Brady never had a good D. All his SB wins were with an awesome defense... maybe not Ravens 2000 quality.... but damn good Pts/G. Hell of a lot better than Ravens 2012. Peyton --- One of the Best Ever. Tom --- Incredible System Guy. HOF worthy... absolutely, but if you take out Joe, I'd much rather have Peyton in our system than Tom. Tom isn't a great 20yd down and out passer. Bill smartly has devised a successful system around Tom's skillset. Have the Ravens implemented the right system with Joe?? My take is its way too early to decide b/c they really don't know what they are doing on offense. The franchise cannot shake that AFC North ground and pound mentality. Its obvious that Harbs influence is all over the offense. You want to judge Joe right now. Until they have two legit WRs + a good TE, and a more passing friendly system, I think its a moot point. Personally, I don't know what Joe Flacco really is. Hopefully we will find out a definitive answer and soon. All I know is he can't make chicken salad out of chicken shit this year.

Curtis Dickey
Curtis Dickey

Tony... Come on!! NE's OL is 10x better than Ravens. Receiver wise (w/o Gronk).. sure I might take the Ravens over their cast (still have to think about it b/c it aint a slam dunk). But I'd guarantee Joe would take more time over marginally better wideouts every Sunday.

JerryB
JerryB

Including TE's, I'd swap 'em even up right now.....

g money
g money

you can say you are keeping it real, but it doesn't make it correct. Saying Jacoby should have been the MVP is ridiculous. Flacco has no real accomplishments? Did you watch the playoffs last year? unreal, do us a favor, and become a skins fan.

Joshua
Joshua

I've responded to every one of your nonsensical comments by hitting the reply button when it's available.

Joshua
Joshua

Flacco had the likes of Marvin Harrson, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark (in his prime) at his disposal?? When was that? Flacco has turned me sour more than ever this year, but come on.

Joshua
Joshua

You didn't write the other day that Harbs "might not be a good sideline coach" in response to one of my comments? And tell yourself whatever you have to do fuel that already-engorged ego. Go Ravens, right??

Tony Lombardi
Tony Lombardi

Well it's really useless to compare Brady and Manning to Joe, and I'll take the blame for that. Joe isn't even close to being in that class and he's far from being in the class of Brees and Rodgers. My point is that those guys make the players around them better. I'm not sure that Joe does that but his pay grade suggests that he should.

Tony Lombardi
Tony Lombardi

If you think that Brady's skills don't make that O-Line look better than it is, then you aren't watching the same game as me. Their playbook is so much more diverse because Brady can process it and the diversity keeps defenses on their heels. Cerebrally Brady is light years ahead of Joe and that forces many defenses to pause. That pause is that O-Line's best friend. I agree they are better than the Ravens, but not by as much as you think. Same thing in Denver...that O-Line isn't that much better. Peyton's gets the ball out so quickly and it makes the O-line look better than it is. But let's no forget that neither Brady or Manning has ever had the defense the Ravens field. That defense has often carried Flacco. He's the equivalent of a 20-game winner in MLB who has a 4+ ERA. In Joe's defense (to a degree), the offensive scheme is in the dark ages. Is it because of the coaching or is it because they think it's all Joe can handle? I don't have the answer but it's a legit question.

Tony Lombardi
Tony Lombardi

Aren't you forgetting that there are two sides to the ball? Manning and Brady never had Ravens-like defenses.

Tony Lombardi
Tony Lombardi

So that makes him a bad overall coach? Keep twisting to suit your agenda young Joshua. Engorged ego... nice. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm feeling a little full. GO RAVENS!

Joshua
Joshua

When Bob Sanders returned from injury the year Indy won the Super Bowl, they went from the worst run defense in the league to the best during the playoffs; his return was very significant. And the Patsies' defense might not have been "Ravens-esque," but Bruschi, Seymour and Co. were still pretty formidable. As for Flacco, I actually think this year's defense is the best he's had on the other side of the ball; it's just he who is playing terribly. Last year we had tons of injuries to many key players, and before last season our "old" defense kept getting older every season. They were never the Ravens defense of the late 90's-early '00's. If Joe can get his crap together down the stretch, we might be able to make a run at this thing.

Joshua
Joshua

Well, if a coach can't coach well from the sidelines, like Harbs apparently can't, at least in your mind, then that should make him a bad coach overall. The good ones know how to make proper in-game adjustments. And I doubt you ever really feel full.

Tony Lombardi
Tony Lombardi

There you go again Josh (in my best Ronald Reagan voice)! Now you're twisting (again) by telling me what goes on in MY mind. That's pretty funny. What will be tonight's 3 and 4 digit lottery numbers? Look, I think that Mike Tomlin is a very good football coach but a bad sideline coach. I actually think he's worse than your boy but I still think he's a good coach. Some are teachers, some strategists, some emotional leaders, some in-game technicians. In the end they are judged by wins and losses but none of that makes them above criticism and in the cases of Tomlin and your boy, both are deserving of such. So you see young Joshua, 1 + 1 is not 3. Better get back to your homework.

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