Following the Ravens Super Bowl XLVII victory Joe Flacco and his agent Joe Linta had the team over a barrel. Flacco rolled the dice and came up with a Lucky 5 (in Joe’s case), which produced a $120M jackpot (on paper).
The Ravens lost all leverage during the negotiations because Flacco went on a record-setting tear through the playoffs culminating in a World Championship and a Super Bowl MVP.
This coming offseason Flacco and Linta might have the Ravens over a barrel again. The Ravens have several holes to fill yet their ability to make moves will be largely dependent upon restructuring Flacco’s current deal in a timely fashion as described beautifully by RSR’s Brian McFarland.
Imagine an initial contract discussion like this, taking place in Ozzie Newsome’s office.
OZZIE: Hey Joe and Joe, great to see you guys. Thanks for stopping by. As you know we’d like to keep you here for your entire career Joe and our goal is to structure a win-win long-term deal.
FLACCO: That’s powerful stuff man!
LINTA: Well Ozzie we knew back in 2013 that the current deal for all intents and purposes would be a 3-year deal given the $28.55M cap number for Joe in 2016. What do you have in mind?
OZZIE: Well of course we want to pay Joe fair market value. So far this season Joe ranks in the bottom fifth of the league in most statistical categories. Now I’m not suggesting that he be paid accordingly but we do need to drive down his cap number so that we can surround Joe with the weapons he needs to improve his productivity.
LINTA: Ozzie, you can’t put the team’s inability to secure playmakers on Joe. Really that’s on you.
OZZIE: Look around the league. Look in our division. I’m not suggesting that Joe isn’t as good as Ben or Dalton but Joe’s passer rating of 80.1 is putrid when compared to Ben’s 113.1 or Dalton’s 116.1. Even Josh McCown has put up a 94.6 number so far and let’s not forget that Tyrod up in Buffalo has posted a 103.6
FLACCO: I always knew Tyrod could get it done. But seriously Ozzie, go get me an AJ Green or an Antonio Brown and you will see completely different results.
OZZIE: That’s exactly what we want to do Joe but you’re going to have to work with us because the cap dollars aren’t there to get that kind of player for you. And we’ll need to move on this quickly because if we don’t complete a new deal by February the free agency window of opportunity will escape us in March.
LINTA: Ozzie I hear you but I won’t let you hold Joe hostage for the contractual blunders you’ve made. You have several vets not playing to the level of their contract. Joe won’t be the one paying for those mistakes.
It’s pretty easy to imagine how the sides could come to a stalemate and if so they jeopardize the team’s ability to repair a roster that suddenly appears to be in shambles.
The Ravens really need to fix this by February otherwise they will once again be handcuffed during free agency in March. Last season the team only signed one qualifying unrestricted free agent for purposes of compensatory picks (Kendrick Lewis) in large part because they could afford little else (Matt Schaub and Kyle Arrington were released by their former teams).
At the time the inactivity in free agency wasn’t a major concern because then the team’s weaknesses weren’t as glaring as they are today.
Without a timely Flacco extension, will 2016 be any different than the debacle that is 2015?