Will Breaking the Bank Bust the Cap?

February 07, 2013 | Thyrl Nelson

Joe Flacco is about to get paid. There’s no question about that, and now that he’s hoisted his first Lombardi trophy, everyone seems to be okay with it. Turn back the clock a couple of weeks and there were few who were willing to consider Flacco as anything more than an average to a slightly above average QB. Turn it back a few days and Flacco was knocking on the door of most people’s top 5’s.  Now after winning the Super Bowl, even the biggest and longest tenured of Flacco supporters have to be surprised to see folks ranking him anywhere between 1st and 4th among the NFL’s best signal callers.

This is the way of the fan however, and of the national media as well. You almost have to wonder how much differently the same people would be grading Flacco’s place in the hierarchy if the Ravens defense had failed to keep Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers out of the end zone and Flacco’s Ravens had lost the Super Bowl as a result.


None of that matters now. Flacco has risen to the occasion, not only on the grandest of stages but also at the most opportune time…just ahead of his contract negotiations.


Over the last few weeks for Flacco, everything has changed, and nothing has changed. That’s because the quarterback and his agent have maintained all along that they’re expecting a contract that will set the market and not just one that conforms with the market. Meanwhile, the Ravens have been trying to be fiscally responsible, while also having to acknowledge that allowing the QB to get away was simply not an option. Neither of those things has changed a bit. As leverage goes however, the pendulum has swung mightily in the favor of Flacco’s camp, and the Ravens at least have to feel more confident in the capabilities of the quarterback that they were undeniably beholden to anyway.


Now the question becomes whether it’s in Flacco’s best interest to squeeze every nickel possible out of the club, because he can; or if the QB might be better served in leaving a bit of money on the table in order to allow the Ravens, in a salary cap environment, to continue to put talent around him.


This question would seem to put Flacco in a bit of an awkward position. While Flacco has an agent, Joe Linta, to do his negotiating for him, he also has to decide for himself what’s best. The QB likely has designs on winning more titles; perhaps building a resume that could be considered Hall of Fame worthy at some point, and of course on getting paid too. The agent wants to get him paid not only because he’ll earn his commission off of the contract he negotiates, but perhaps just as importantly because having negotiated the NFL’s biggest QB deal would represent a substantial feather in his cap that would surely be helpful in attracting future clients.


Flacco also has to consider that while his leaving money on the table in order for the Ravens to be better able to acquire and retain talent should benefit him, he’ll still have no real say in how that money is spent. Lets not forget that the Ravens spent approximately 1/3 of their salary cap last year on 4 defensive players in Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata. That’s more than they spent on the entire starting offense, including Flacco himself.


Throughout his time as a Raven, Flacco has seen a virtual revolving door of talent on the offensive line and in the receiving corps, and a steady commitment to retention of defensive players who may now be on the downsides of their careers. While this makes Flacco’s achievements, along with his ability to stay healthy, that much more impressive, it may also strengthen his willingness to take all that he can get financially and continue to take his chances with the talent that General Manager Ozzie Newsome is able to put around him with what’s left.


What hasn’t changed about these negotiations is that both sides will eventually reach an agreement that keeps Flacco around for the long term. What has changed about these negotiations is likely everything else. The answers are coming. Now it’s time to hold your breath and hope that those answers are the right ones. .