Plenty of debate surfaced earlier this offseason when Joe Flacco’s agent Joe Linta hinted the Ravens quarterback should be viewed as a top-5 quarterback if winning is the standard from which you’re judging.
Joining AM 1570 WNST for a charity event on Monday night, Flacco was posed the question whether he agreed with that distinction to be among the NFL’s elite quarterbacks.
“Without a doubt,” Flacco said. “What do you expect me to say? I would assume everybody thinks they’re a top-5 quarterback. I think I’m the best. I don’t think I’m [in] the top five, I think I’m the best. I wouldn’t be very successful at my job if I didn’t feel that way.”
Flacco’s proclamation will surely raise eyebrows, but it’s the precise answer you’d want from the man playing the most important position on on your football team. Not one to go out of his way to openly boast about his success over his first four seasons in Baltimore, Flacco carries himself with an unapologetic conviction when his ability comes into question.
His 44 regular-season wins are the most ever by a starting quarterback in his first four NFL seasons, and he’s the only starting quarterback in league history to reach the postseason in each of his first four seasons. Those are trends Flacco wants to see continue, even if his statistics aren’t always the most appealing.
“I love winning,” Flacco said. “And I’m going to continue to win no matter what my numbers are.”
The Ravens and Linta remain in contract negotiations with the hope of reaching a long-term extension before training camp. Flacco has one year remaining on the original five-year contract he signed as the Ravens’ 18th overall pick in the first round of the 2008 draft.
He and his wife Dana are expecting their first child in June, a life-altering experience that has allowed the 27-year-old to focus on other things besides the negotiations. He has remained nonchalant whenever asked about the potential for a new deal, but the quarterback stated his preference on Monday for getting a new contract done before the season.
“It’s not really a distraction for me because I won’t be thinking about it [as the season gets closer],” Flacco said. “To be honest with you, I want to get something done before the year and I hope that we both want to get something done before the end of the year because when the year comes and goes and I haven’t been re-signed, that’s when things start to get more complicated.
“As a quarterback and a player for this city and a player on our team which I love, you don’t want to get in those complicated situations where they can put the franchise tag on you and things like that.”
While many players entering the final year of their contract choose not to negotiate during the season, Flacco hasn’t made a decision on an artificial deadline to break off talks but remained open to the possibility of negotiations spilling into the early part of the regular season.
After placing the franchise tag on defensive tackle Haloti Ngata last offseason, the Ravens signed the Pro Bowl defensive player to a long-term contract two weeks into the regular season, but they were faced with a deadline to avoid paying him the franchise tag amount for the entire 2011 season.
“It was different with Haloti just because he was franchised already,” Flacco said. “I’ll have to see about how I think about [continuing negotiations into the season]. I’ll talk to my agent. If we don’t have something done by then, I’m sure we will have a good feel for where we are and where they are and how much we want to get it done.”
While determining the former Delaware quarterback’s value remains tricky because of the wide range in dollars awarded to quarterbacks in recent seasons, Flacco made it clear he has no intention of going elsewhere.
And general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens have no reason to risk losing the franchise quarterback for which they so desperately searched for years.
“I want to play football for the Baltimore Ravens,” Flacco said. “There’s nothing else in the world I’d rather be doing.”