Tag Archive | "franchise tag"

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NFL = Numbers Frequently Lie

Posted on 04 March 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

The NFL loves to lie to you.


They do it because they can. They do it to overshadow their inherent greed. And mostly, they do it because you continue to eat it up.

Joe Flacco is set to finalize a 6-year, $120.6 million contract with the Ravens this week, and we’re all still awaiting the details. There are however, a couple of details that we ought to know better than to accept at this point. The first is that the deal won’t be for 6-years, nor $120.6 million. Another is that when the “details” are announced the number that they throw out as “guaranteed” will be anything but guaranteed.


The NFL is a greedy league; there’s no way around that. They’re the same league that flaunted their $9+ billion revenue pie in our faces one year while negotiating their labor agreement and then locked out their referees over a tiny fraction of that money as they tried to break the officials union the next year.


In comparison to the NBA or Major League Baseball, there is no comparison. As the NFL reigns supreme in popularity and profitability they pay their players far less than their contemporaries and then fail to “guarantee” anything beyond a signing bonus. The league that chews up and spits out its talent quicker than any other is also shameless in its willingness to do so while sharing as little of the owner’s wealth as possible.


Shameless however is probably the wrong word. There has to be some shame involved, which is why they insist on lying to you, the consumer. Once a deal is agreed to, once the terms have been finalized between teams and players on contracts, the league that works so hard at spending so little, rushes to press to lie to you about how much money they’ve “committed” and what portion of that they’ve “guaranteed”.


And judging from the reaction to Joe Flacco’s contract, they do it because they can. The media has jumped all over the big numbers and the moniker of “highest paid”, the critics have weighed in on how the terms are sure to sink the Ravens yet no one has any idea how much money Joe will actually get…or when.


The Ravens did it to Cary Williams last year. They offered Williams a 3-year deal worth $15 million, and when he turned the offer down that information and those numbers mysteriously found their way to the press. To us, that sounds like $5 million per year, but we’ll never really know if it’s true. In NFL terms it could have been (and likely was) something more like $2 million in the first year, $3 million in the second, and $10 million in the third and final year of the deal, with a substantial likelihood that the contract would be terminated or renegotiated before that third year ever kicked in.


What we do know, or have heard, about Flacco’s deal is that he’ll have a lower cap number in 2013 than he did in 2012. That however hasn’t stopped folks from judging the contract through the prism of highest paid. It won’t stop the Ravens from selling it as such either as they celebrate their financial “commitment” to the QB who delivered a Super Bowl to Baltimore. And it surely won’t stop Flacco’s agent Joe Linta from using the words “most lucrative deal in NFL history” when trying to attract new clients. All of this despite the fact that we should all know much better by now.


We also know the Ravens choices were limited. They could have paid Flacco $20+ million under the exclusive franchise tag and seen every bit of that money reflected in their 2013 cap. They could have paid him $14 million in a non-exclusive franchise tag and allowed another team to negotiate the biggest and most important contract in franchise history on their behalf. Or, they could have let the first franchise QB in team history simply walk, to the highest bidder, with a couple of undetermined draft picks as compensation and prepared themselves to begin the process of grooming a QB all over again.


The Ravens made the best of a bad situation (or as bad a situation as you can have immediately after winning a Super Bowl), and for now at least they still appear poised to win.


The two sides will likely be back at the table in 2-years or so to move the money around and make the “greedy QB” look like the “Benevolent Bank of Flacco” as he helps the team remain cap solvent while piling money on top of his money. And now the team can sit back and relax as others react to the market that they created. Flacco, we know, will only be the “highest paid” player until the next guy comes up for negotiations. That’s now the Packers and Cowboys and Falcons and 49ers problem to deal with. Maybe that’s why fans have reacted so boisterously to a deal that has no bearing on their own teams, and in their words “will likely sink the Ravens”.

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Flacco and the Price of the Tag

Posted on 18 February 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

Joe Flacco and the Ravens have just about 2 weeks to hammer out a deal and avoid the use of the franchise tag and a continuation of the high stakes poker game that’s been going on between them for close to 12 months and counting.

In the lead-up there’s been lots of discussion as to whether the Ravens should assign Flacco the “regular” franchise tag, which comes with a payday of $14.5 million or so, but would also leave him able to negotiate an offer sheet with the highest bidder; or if they should give him the “exclusive rights” franchise tag at a cost of $20 million or so but prohibits the interference of other teams in the parties’ ongoing negotiations.

From a team standpoint, there’s big savings in the non-exclusive version of the franchise tag, but it could leave them vulnerable. While the Ravens would have the opportunity to forego the pair of first round picks another team would have to relinquish in signing Flacco under that tag, and simply match the offer made by the signing club, it would still put them in the awkward position of having another team negotiate the biggest contract in franchise history on behalf of the Ravens…and likely to their detriment.

While “poison pills” haven’t been an issue in free agent negotiations since the Seahawks and Vikings took turns hustling each other a few seasons ago, there are other creative ways that teams could choose to make life uncomfortable for the Ravens in matching an offer sheet. The new NFL CBA mandates that teams spend a greater percentage of their salary caps than ever before. Therefore it’s not unreasonable to think a team with a surplus of cap room might front load a deal with big upfront salary numbers, making the early years of the deal cap heavy and potentially deescalating their cap number over the life of the deal. The Ravens are going to have difficult decisions to make no matter what type of deal they reach with Flacco, but a frontloaded contract might be close to impossible for them to match. Additionally, the likelihood that the Ravens will have to match whatever deal a competitor might offer would likely compel that team to be a bit freer with the money as they’re not likely spending it anyway.

Those possibilities would make it seem likely that the Ravens have little choice but to bite the $20 million bullet and apply the exclusive rights tag to Flacco. That’s where things get interesting.

Keep in mind we’re talking about a quarterback who left (allegedly) $85 million or more on the table and $30-$35 million up front because he wasn’t satisfied that the Ravens were being fair enough a year ago. He did this in a season where he was scheduled to make just $6.75 million. If we concede that “Drew Brees money” was the goal, then Flacco risked everything over $5-$10 million up front and as little as $15 million over the life of a 5-year deal. In a season where he was scheduled to make less than $7 million, that was a $23-$28 million gamble or between 3.5 and 4.5 times what he was scheduled to make.

Fast forward to March 4th; if the Ravens assign Flacco the exclusive tender he’ll get $20 million guaranteed, even if he doesn’t make it to day-1 of mini-camp, as soon as he signs the tender. If he plays out the 2013 season under those terms, healthy or not, the Ravens would have to guarantee him an additional $24 million under any version of the franchise tag, or let him go to free agency. Finishing 2014 it’d be all but impossible for the Ravens to hang on to Flacco’s rights, thereby releasing him to free agency and a likely $40 million more upfront at the age of 30.

Let’s recap:
2012 Flacco takes $6.75 million leaving $30-$35 million upfront on the table to gamble over what amounts to another $5-$10 million up front and an average of $3 million per year over 5-years.

2013 Flacco is guaranteed $20 million just for signing his name, and $44 million if he remains a guy that the Ravens are unwilling to part with after 1 more season. Two non-disastrous seasons would put him in line for $85 million actual dollars paid just 2-years from today.

Brees, by comparison, got $40 million in year 1 of his new deal, will get another $10 million for year 2 of his deal ($50 million combined) and another $10 million for year 3 ($60 million combined).

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Flacco and the Future of the Franchise

Posted on 27 November 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

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?

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