Long before the season began, Joe Flacco made a few waves and grabbed a few headlines with his proclamation here on the WNST airwaves that he considered himself an elite quarterback. Immediately after stating as much he attempted to clarify his logic in having to believe that way, but the statement had already been made, the bell had already been rung and the attention had already been cast in the direction of the sensational from a quarterback who, while improbably or inexplicably successful to this point in his career, could be described with any number of adjectives but not exactly sensational.
Since then, and even likely without those statements made by Flacco, everyone has been trying to figure out where he fits into the NFL’s quarterbacking hierarchy. Those who have already decided one way or the other on Falcco’s elite potential or lack thereof have been summarily empowered or silenced as the wind has blown and as his game by game fortunes have varied wildly.
The underlying story has been and remains a real issue for the Ravens. While it seems that there’s little doubt within the organization as to whether or not Flacco is capable of leading the team to the “promised land” of a Super Bowl title; the time for them to put up or shut up in that regard is rapidly reaching urgency.
After Flacco’s first game, a one-sided drubbing of the Cincinnati Bengals in Baltimore, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh essentially said that it’s time to pay that man. With his sporadic caliber of play, particularly on the road this season, Flacco has indirectly seemed to suggest through his play that he might not exactly be a safe bet to ever evolve into the franchise quarterback that the team may want him to be. Whichever way the front office is leaning, there have been plenty of compelling arguments, made on the field by his play, to suggest that they reconsider.
Soon enough though, Joe Flacco is going to get paid. Forgetting, for just a second about the possibility of his ever being elite, Ravens fans know all to well how difficult it can be to find a quarterback that could even be considered competent in comparison to NFL standards. We watched this team, after all, cling to Kyle Boller for far too long seemingly afraid that the polish that they had painstakingly tried to put on his skills might manifest elsewhere and come back to haunt them. Clearly Joe Flacco has shown far more polish than Boller ever did, and so the price of retaining him will be much greater…and potentially much riskier.
Maybe the Ravens caught a bit of a break when the new CBA was put into effect before last season. With the new CBA, the price of the franchise tags went down across the board. Last year the price of a franchise tagged quarterback was just over $14 million for one season. This year that number will likely be higher, but not much higher.
With each passing week the questions about Flacco seem to mount, as do the stakes. Maybe the Ravens see the franchise tag as another 16 game chance to kick the tires on Flacco. Even a second year of wearing the tag wouldn’t be preclusive from a pricing standpoint, and likely wouldn’t even cost the Ravens much more than they’d have to pay him under the terms of a long-term contract. But what exactly could this team learn about Flacco in 2 more seasons that they haven’t already found out in his first 5?