Despite optimism on the heels of the Ravens and Ray Rice agreeing to a five-year, $40 million contract last week, Joe Flacco reported to training camp this week without a new contract in place.
And that’s just fine with the fifth-year quarterback as agent Joe Linta and the Ravens brass continue to negotiate the terms of a long-term agreement to keep him in Baltimore. Watching the Ravens take care of their Pro Bowl running back had to give Flacco comfort in knowing he will eventually receive his own payday.
“I was glad for Ray, and it is a big thing for our organization to get him done,” Flacco said. “Ray is a great back, and it’s great to see that happen and I’m not worried about it. I haven’t been worried about it; I’m not worried about it. It will happen one day, and whenever it happens, I will be excited, but you probably really won’t be able to see it too much.”
The Ravens hold much of the leverage now after completing a multi-year contract with Rice as they will now have a clearer conscience in using the franchise tag on Flacco next year without any threat of losing their star running back.
If the sides are unable to reach a contract before next offseason, the franchise tag will undoubtedly come into play, but Rice reminded everyone how general manager Ozzie Newsome has always used the franchise tag as a helpful tool for negotiating a long-term deal. The running back expects the organization to use the same strategy with Flacco if it comes to that.
“They can take care of him now or they can take care of him later, and they do have the option of the franchise tag, which gives them more time,” Rice said. “When you bridge the gap, he’s going to get taken care of. It just might not happen when he wants it to, but it’s going to get done. I’m not even sure he’s even worried about that. Like he said, he knows he’s going to be a Raven for a long time, and that’s how I took the approach last year.”
Flacco said earlier in the offseason he would be open to the sides continuing contract talks into the new season if the sides were making progress. He reaffirmed that position after the Ravens’ first full-team practice on Friday.
Instead, the quarterback says he’s solely focused on football and getting his team back in position to make a Super Bowl run as he’s slated to make $6.76 million in the final year of the rookie contract he signed in 2008.
“It doesn’t matter to me; it’s not like I’m up in the offices negotiating my contract,” Flacco said. “I really don’t have any thought about it. It’s up to my agent. If he happens to call me one day in October, it’s not like I’m thinking about it in October. It’s not going to distract me.”
In addition to fighting the distractions of contract negotiations, the 27-year-old became a father for the first time in June but quipped that his wife Dana has handled the bulk of the responsibilities for baby Stephen.
“It’s just exciting for me,” Flacco said. “I’ve always wanted to have a family of my own. To get to that point, it’s kind of unreal. I’ll look at him every now and then and be like, ‘Oh yeah, man. I’m a dad.’ It’s a pretty crazy thing. It’s indescribable. The day he came definitely changed my life.”
A new contract will be another life-changing factor for the University of Delaware product, whenever it might come.