OWINGS MILLS — Now that the Baltimore Ravens have inked Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice to a $40 million contract, the next priority for the organization is locking up quarterback Joe Flacco to a long-term deal.
Flacco is maintaining his focus on the upcoming season, though, not his unresolved contract status as he heads into the final year of his rookie contract, according to his agent.
"Joe is very, very excited for the season," agent Joe Linta said in a telephone interview. "He’s really adamant about getting the Ravens to the next step. The contract at this point is secondary to that goal. Joe has the attitude that he’ll earn it."
A dropped Lee Evans pass in the end zone prevented Flacco from leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl berth last season, losing to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game. He passed for 3,610 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last season.
As the Ravens’ all-time leading passer with 13,816 yards and 80 touchdown passes, Flacco has never missed a start and has gone 44-20 in the regular season and played in two AFC championship games.
Although contract talks between the Flacco camp and Ravens vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty have been characterized as amicable, no deal is imminent at this time.
Even though the Rice contract, which includes a $15 million signing bonus and a total of $25 million to be paid through the first two years, created $2.7742 million in salary-cap space, the Ravens remain in a relatively tight financial situation.
They’re currently $3.381 million under the NFL limit after previously having the least cap room in the league prior to the Rice deal.
Defining Flacco’s value compared to other quarterbacks is another issue that needs to be worked out. Flacco is due a $6.76 million base salary this season after triggering a $5.4 million escalator clause.
"We’ve had great conversations, and we’re going to keep talking," Linta said. "Everything is good. We’re going to keep talking, keep the lines of communication open."
NOTE: Rookies, quarterbacks and injured veterans from last season are scheduled to open training camp July 24.
Veterans report the following day and the first full-team practice is July 26.