Potential Win-Win For The QB & The Ravens
Following the 2011 season the Ravens tried to sign Joe Flacco to a long-term deal. The two sides were close. There was give and take. But as it so often happens during the negotiation process, each side thought they had conceded too much. Both drew their proverbial lines in the sand.
Negotiations bogged down and they eventually broke down over what Flacco’s agent Joe Linta would later describe as $1 million of non-guaranteed money, six years down the road.
So Flacco bet on himself. He rolled the dice and he won in a big way. He won the Super Bowl, the Super Bowl MVP and a then record $120.6M contract. The contract was far greater than the one the Ravens could have completed months earlier.
Linta would later boast, “It cost [the Ravens] $35 million. So, I have no sympathy. None.
“I’ve never in my life seen a dumber move. I guess people can say, ‘Well, Joe was dumb, too.’ It could have been [dumb], God forbid, if he got hurt. But $1 million to Steve Bisciotti six years from now? That’s like 100 bucks for you or me today.”
“No sympathy”. “Dumb move”.
While he was hardly a gracious winner, Linta had a point. And at the time the Ravens probably didn’t care. While still basking in the glow of their second Super Bowl victory, they had their franchise QB locked up for six more seasons.
But now, four seasons later and with the glow long gone, it is Flacco who has the Ravens locked up.
Since inking that deal back in 2013 Flacco’s passer rating is a mediocre 82.5. During his career, his passer rating is 84.5. To put that in perspective here are some of the career passer ratings for Flacco’s contemporaries:
Now some will argue that Flacco hasn’t had the benefit of a receiving corps like those that Roethlisberger, Ryan and Dalton have enjoyed. Some might say that Flacco’s progress has been tempered by the constant state of flux at offensive coordinator. Others will say that Flacco’s numbers are diminished by both.
But Flacco’s pay grade suggests that he should be doing better than 82.5 over the past four seasons. He was better when playing under his rookie deal because the team had the cap space to give him a better supporting cast. With the new deal, Flacco accepted more responsibility and so far, he’s failed to deliver.
It’s interesting that both Ben Roethlisberger ($18.2M) and Tom Brady ($14.0M) aren’t among the Top 10 cap hits in 2017 from the list about provided by Spotrac. The Super Bowl LI winning QB Brady, owner of 5 rings and a passer rating of 112.2 in 2016, has the 19th highest cap figure among quarterbacks in 2017, tied with the Bears Mike Glennon.
Brady is willing to take less in order to help make the team around him better. Arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time has a cap figure just $1.4M higher than Ravens CB Jimmy Smith.
So naturally it begs the question, “Why can’t Joe Flacco take a pay cut to help his team the way Brady has?”
But in more ways than one, Brady is the exception to the norm. It’s rare that a player, or any professional in just about any walk of life, will willingly take a pay cut. But Brady is the ultimate competitor. He’s wired differently than most, particularly Flacco. Winning and perhaps his place in history apparently mean more to him than it does to Flacco.
Of course, it helps when the breadwinner in the family is a supermodel.
Yet you have to wonder, if the Ravens had a shot at a right tackle that could solidify the line, provide above average pass protection to keep their QB clean and help get the ground game rolling, would Flacco consider such a pay cut if the Ravens needed some room to land such a player?
For example, suppose the Ravens needed an extra $3M in cap space to sign a right tackle. If amenable to it, Flacco could reduce his $6M salary by 50% and make it up with incentives such as the number of TD passes, wins and/or passer rating. If those incentives were set at 25, 10 and 90 respectively, all things he didn’t achieve in 2016 but did attain in 2014 under Gary Kubiak, Joe would take home the same pay in 2017.
The $3M in incentives would count against 2018’s cap.
Sounds pretty simple and with the added talent the incentives seem achievable, particularly for a guy who owns 2017’s biggest cap number. Maybe the Ravens could throw in an extra million for the same benchmarks to sweeten the pot.
But given the history of negotiations between the team’s franchise quarterback, and the front office, it’s doubtful that Flacco’s agent Linta will have much “sympathy” for the Ravens cap situation.
He might look at the incentives as a “dumb move”.