From Flacco’s perspective, the tag might not be the worst thing that ever happened to him either. While fans (and agents) tend to overstate the possibility of a career ending injury changing everything in the blink of an eye, it rarely happens. Even if it were to happen, the NFL has become more than adept at building assurances into their long-term contracts that allow them to get out from under players that they no longer value anyway. Additionally Flacco has yet to miss a game in the 4+ years of his career to this point while lording over what many consider to be the NFL’s hardest hitting division. And this league has a way of recognizing greatness by way of achievement much more than by potential. A quick rundown of the NFL’s current “elite” is little more than an exercise in identifying “who is already wearing a ring or two”. If Flacco were to pick up one of those in the meantime there’d be no denying his greatness or at least no shortage of suitors willing to acknowledge it once his franchise tag years were spent.
Flacco will be 28 by the time this off-season comes around, and 30 by the time the 2-easy to manage franchise tag years were used up by the Ravens. He’s already well accomplished despite a real lack of offensive line talent in front of him and despite a revolving door of wide receivers around him. Now list for yourself the “elite” quarterbacks who’ve achieved that status under those circumstances. We can all see that there aren’t enough quarterbacks in this league to expect that some otherwise encouraged franchise wouldn’t be willing to take a chance on a guy who’s achieved what Flacco already has.
No matter how they handle Flacco’s contract after this season, there’ll be some belt tightening required by the Ravens. The chance to put more talent around him will have to come through the draft, as it’ll likely be all the Ravens can do to retain their current talent while finding the money to pay their franchise QB. If they believe in him long- term than there’s no better (or cheaper) time than the present to get him locked up for the long haul. If they still have their doubts we may be looking at an odd 2-year limbo of extended awkwardness. And as each week passes the price continues to rise and the questions continue to mount.