It’s easy to see Rice’s situation play out similarly to Johnson’s last season with the Titans. While the Ravens don’t want to give him ridiculous money, they’re not known as an organization willing to sacrifice the greater good-in this case the hopes of defending a division title and reaching the Super Bowl-to win individual battles with players. The Ravens don’t want to give away unfavorable contracts, but they know Rice was responsible for roughly 38% (2,068 total yards) of their total offensive yards (5,419) in 2011. They also know they’d like to improve on their total offensive numbers moving forward, especially considering the loss of reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs for at least roughly half of the season.
While the team has said all the right things with Rice away from OTA’s, Rice’s camp has made it clear a holdout will be an option if a new deal isn’t reached before the July 16 deadline that would force Ray Rice to play for the $7.7 million franchise tag in 2012. Despite drafting Temple RB Bernard Pierce in the third round of the NFL Draft, the team knows a prolonged holdout does not serve to help their immediate goals. It wouldn’t be the first time the Ravens failed to have a deal done with a franchise player before the start of the season (OL Wally Williams never got a long term deal, LB Suggs & CB Chris McAlister each had to receive the tag a second time before a deal got done and just last season DT Haloti Ngata didn’t get his long term deal done until after the start of the regular season), but the situation seems different this time.
The main argument against giving a RB a long term deal is the volatile nature of the position. Waiting another season to give Rice a deal would seemingly work against the knowledge that Running Backs no longer improve with age. Another big season would make Rice’s demands no less forgiving for the team with 16 or more games of “tread” potentially off his tires.
The Titans were ultimate able to get the Johnson deal done by lessening the value of the deal per season but ultimately signing off on a greater amount of guaranteed money. My best guess is that something similar happens with Rice, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it took awhile. Waiting until after July 16 would be a mistake in my view, but I’m just a goof with a laptop and a microphone in front of my face.
The Flacco situation is significantly more difficult to figure out. The Ravens do not have to give Flacco a deal before the season for any reason, other than the reason that teams generally don’t like seeing their franchise quarterbacks go into the final year of a contract. That is unless you’re the New Orleans Saints. If you’re the Saints, you’re apparently unaware that the only difference between your franchise and complete irrelevance is one player. I’ll leave that alone now.
The Ravens and Flacco have no easy place to negotiate from at the moment. The Flacco camp is trying to establish a value based on team accomplishments while General Manager Ozzie Newsome and company can use personal statistics as a balance to lessen the perceived value of the man who not too long ago told me he believed he was “the best quarterback in the NFL.”
The Ravens want to negotiate based on what Flacco has accomplished thus far. Linta wants to negotiate based on what the Ravens want Flacco to accomplish in the future. With no deadline whatsoever, it’s difficult to determine a point where the situation would come to a head.
I think the Ravens should be bold and give Flacco a significant deal. I’m saying that as a man who thought twice about spending $225 on a whole pig to roast this weekend. The Ravens hap cap issues already. There’s something to be said for putting pressure on Flacco to get the job done in his contract year knowing a franchise tag could always prevent departure next year.
I’d avoid that. If Joe Flacco is your franchise quarterback, give him a deal that reflects that. I believe he IS that guy and I think the organization agrees.
We’ve reached June. We’re within two months of the start of Training Camp. We’re approaching a season where a team that has accomplished a great deal in recent seasons faces difficult questions about their ability to equal those accomplishments or surpass them. Their greatest defensive players (Suggs, Ngata, S Ed Reed and LB Ray Lewis) are either old, injured, coming of an injury or some combination of all three. Their two most significant offense players are in the throws of contract issues.
Oh and the Orioles have lost 10 out of their last 13 games.
Happy start of summer everyone?