Don’t Sweat the Flacco Contract

February 12, 2013 | Dan Oltman

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m really struggling to see how so many Ravens fans at this point can still feel so uneasy about Joe Flacco getting his big payday.  We’re all aware that the NFL has become a passing league, and yet come contract time it seems that some are still willing to question the legitimacy of paying the franchise quarterback. How many teams out there are still looking for a guy like Flacco?

Perhaps you can ask the Raiders, Browns, Jaguars or Chiefs how difficult it is to find the quarterback of the future. If you’re still not convinced, the Redskins, Colts, and Seahawks can certainly speak to the importance of having a franchise quarterback when taking the next step, or even competing at all, in the National Football League. I understand that money can be a concern, but letting Joe walk is not a reasonable option, leaving the financial situation to essentially two outcomes.

An exclusive franchise tag that would ensure Flacco remains a Raven for at least one more year would cost around $20 million. The exclusive tag would also be a sure way to say goodbye to guys like Boldin, Kruger, and Williams among others. The exclusive tag handcuffs you to at least $20 million dollars of cap space in 2013, a year in which the salary cap has most certainly not increased. In fact, the salary cap will remain flat for several more years, which leads to these very situations.

Now if we take a look at the prospects of a long term deal, the options start to open up a bit more. Even if Flacco received a 5 year contract worth $100 million, it could be back loaded so that more cap space is available in the first couple years. Then, a contract that is worth $20 million a year can be structured so that the first year is only $12 million, the second year increases to $16 million, then $20 million, and so on, with it ultimately still worth the same amount overall. Now clearly I’m no GM, but that’s just a basic, rough idea of a realistic situation, with the numbers obviously differing.

This method could make all the difference in a year in which there is a flat cap, especially when contracts are going to need to be restructured anyway just to keep certain players. This type of financial maneuvering is necessary and seemingly inevitable when dealing with a team loaded with talent.

Let’s also not forget who is running Baltimore’s front office. Ozzie Newsome, Pat Moriarty, and the guys behind the scenes are some of the best at what they do. Would I miss a guy like Anquan Boldin if we were unable to keep him and he retired? Yes, absolutely, but Ozzie and our front office have a rather good track record when it comes to getting great value out of their draft picks, even into the later rounds.

Do you know what Bernard Pierce, Lardarius Webb, and Marshal Yanda all have in common? They were drafted in the 3rd round. Dennis Pitta was a 4th rounder, as was Jarret Johnson. A guy by the name of Adalius Thomas was taken in the 6th round, and it would be unnecessary for me to list all the talent taken in the 1st and 2nd rounds over the years. It’s also worth noting that a couple of the players listed, along with many who aren’t, moved on some time ago and were replaced with young, affordable talent.

Quarterback is a vital position to any team in the NFL, and it’s not every day that you find one who can lead your team for years to come, we as Ravens fans should certainly know that. It would be utterly foolish to let a guy like Joe Flacco walk because he was asking for top quarterback money. After all, he is a top quarterback. I don’t buy into the ‘highest paid quarterback’ rhetoric; if Aaron Rodgers’ contract was up right now then he would be the highest paid QB in the league. In fact, Rodgers and the limited number of quarterbacks who are considered of the upper tier will all be paid handsomely when it’s time to sign, likely more than Joe will be. So let’s keep in mind what we have and how hard it is to find. On that note, can the draft get here soon?