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Real question is when — not how — Ravens, Flacco strike long-term deal

Posted on 11 February 2013 by Luke Jones

Forgive me if I’m not interested in discussing how much money quarterback Joe Flacco is really worth as he and agent Joe Linta reopen contract talks with the Baltimore Ravens this week.

That was a far more compelling debate just two months ago when Flacco fell into the category of good quarterbacks yet to win a Super Bowl. Now, the Super Bowl XLVII Most Valuable Player — fresh off one of the greatest postseason runs in NFL history — undoubtedly falls somewhere in the small group of premium-tier quarterbacks, making the value of his next contract less compelling as he now should be viewed as the next top quarterback in line for a payday.

Flacco’s the next man up at the ATM, ready to receive a record-setting deal that will inevitably be trumped by Aaron Rodgers or even Matt Ryan in the next year or two. That’s the way it works for the likes of Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Eli Manning. It’s largely a cyclical process for the quarterbacks with staying power.

There’s no disputing that Flacco is going to get paid lucratively, whether you want to face reality or insist on saying he needs to show more than what he did over the final month of the season or that he should give the Ravens a discount to preserve the cap. That’s not to trivialize the complexity of negotiations between Linta and general manager Ozzie Newsome and vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty, but Flacco will emerge somewhere among the top two or three highest-paid quarterbacks in the league — if not the highest — when it’s all said and done. All the signs point to it, regardless of where you stood on the Flacco meter prior to the 28-year-old throwing 11 touchdowns without an interception over four playoff games.

“When you do a contract of this magnitude, you look at two things,” Linta said on AM 1570 WNST.net last week. “One is his body of work, what he’s done in the past up to now, especially in the last five weeks, but especially the last five years. And then, as you go forward, what are the expectations over the next four, five, or six years? What is his health, his age, all those kinds of things? You factor all those things and then come up with something that you think is fair.”

Linta and Flacco hold all the leverage as they’re fully aware of the Ravens’ tight salary cap and how a long-term agreement is a necessity to avoid losing countless players — free agents and players under contract alike. Both sides know Flacco is entering his prime years and has never missed a game in his entire career. And it’s no longer a question whether Flacco is capable of leading a team to a championship; he’s done it already.

The challenge for the Ravens becomes how firmly Newsome can stand his ground in trying to negotiate the healthiest deal for his franchise while also remembering how critical it will be to have a deal signed by March 4, the deadline for using the franchise tag. In order to maintain any semblance of the 2012 championship team, the Ravens simply have no choice but to reach a deal with their most important player.

The problem is Linta knows that, meaning the agent can try to bleed every last nickel from the Ravens that he wants. This negotiation is about leverage and where Flacco is right now in his career, regardless of what anyone thinks his “true” value is based on the collective body of work through five professional seasons.

How the deal gets done isn’t nearly as important as when it happens.

If the sides are unable to strike a deal, the Ravens are faced with the reality of spending a minimum of $14.6 million by way of the non-exclusive franchise tag, which would still leave Flacco free to negotiate with other teams. Should another team sign him to an offer sheet, the Ravens would have five days to match the offer or receive two first-round picks from that organization.

The safer — but more costly — alternative would be to place the exclusive tag on Flacco, guaranteeing he would remain in Baltimore for another year but also meaning the Ravens would need to pay upwards of $20 million in salary for the 2013 season. According to NFL.com, the Ravens are roughly $12.9 million under the cap before addressing Flacco, their restricted free agents, or any of their impending free agents.

In other words, the exclusive tag means the Ravens would be waving goodbye to several more veterans, which could include the likes of fullback Vonta Leach, kick returner Jacoby Jones, and top wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Such cuts would be to simply clear enough room to fit the quarterback inside the cap without addressing any other holes created in that process.

And never mind what the exclusive tag price would mean to Linta’s negotiating position, with him then having the tangible $20 million-per-season platform on which to stand.

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Agent: No timetable for completion of Flacco contract

Posted on 19 July 2012 by Luke Jones

With Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice signing a new five-year contract earlier this week, the Ravens now shift their attention to quarterback Joe Flacco with the hopes of completing a long-term deal before the start of training camp next week.

But how realistic that is remains to be seen as agent Joe Linta and Ravens vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty continue negotiations.

According to a report by former Ravens scout Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com, a source with knowledge of the situation said there’s a “75 percent chance” of completing a new contract for the fifth-year quarterback before the start of training camp next week. The 27-year-old signal-caller is entering the final year of his rookie contract signed in 2008.

However, Linta reminded everyone not to believe everything they read when he joined AM 1570 WNST on Thursday.

“That was news to me. That’s good, that’s a good number,” Linta said. “You just laugh at people who do that. I also understand the media. You guys have a job to do. You are trying to get some content. Somebody says something to him that says they are making progress and he deduces 75 percent. He picked a number out, it’s fine. It’s not a big deal. Like I said, he is just doing his job. There’s no truth to it, but he is doing his job.”

With Rice’s $40 million contract clearing $2.7 million away from the projected salary cap for 2012, general manager Ozzie Newsome now has more cap room to intensify negotiations, which wasn’t as feasible when the Ravens had less than $1 million of space prior to Monday. Flacco is scheduled to make $6.76 million in the final year of his contract.

Flacco told WNST.net earlier this offseason he would not set a firm deadline to cut off negotiations, saying he was open to continuing talks into the start of the season if talks were progressing. Finding parameters for Flacco’s value has been difficult with Peyton Manning and Drew Brees — two quarterbacks clearly in the next pay grade — being the only other signal-callers to receive lucrative deals this offseason.

“I would say that the percent importance there is zero,” said Linta when asked if the deal needed to be done by the start of camp. “If we do this deal today at lunchtime, Joe will be fine with it. If we do this deal three years from now, Joe will be fine with it. I promise you that. He just wants to play the game and win. Obviously, any human being wants to be recognized for what they are worth, but that’s secondary and that’s my job.”

The Ravens can negotiate with more leverage now in knowing the Rice contract is finished, meaning the 2013 franchise tag will be at their disposal to use on the quarterback. Had the Ravens not agreed to a long-term deal with Rice, a nightmarish scenario could have played out in which the Ravens would have been forced to choose one to franchise while the other potentially reached the free-agent waters.

As is the case with any negotiation, the lack of a firm deadline or any real urgency could slow the pace of negotiations. With the Ravens now being able to tag Flacco next offseason without any thought of Rice, both sides know the quarterback isn’t going anywhere in 2013. In order to maximize the potential value of a deal, Flacco’s best bet might be to play out the season in hopes of posting career numbers.

“They know he is the best guy they have had here ever,” Linta said. “It’s a tough, long road to do this, but it’s not an unpleasant one. What people don’t know about Joe Flacco is his drive and desire to win a Super Bowl and take this team to the next level supersedes his desire for money.”

The University of Delaware product has 13,816 passing yards and 82 touchdowns in his first four years in the league and has led the Ravens to at least one postseason victory in each of his first four seasons, something no other quarterback in NFL history has done. Flacco drew criticism earlier this offseason for stating he believed he was the best quarterback in the NFL.

“He’s one of the best,” Linta said. “I’m not going to sit here and say he is the best. When I said six months ago that he is in the top five, he is clearly in the top five. Anyone who watched film would say that. Anybody that doesn’t watch film could say, ‘Oh he’s crazy, he’s ninth statistically.’ It doesn’t matter. What matters is what does he do on the field and does he make correct [and] proper decisions.

“There are people in the media that don’t watch the film and all they have to go on are statistics. There are a lot of guys that are on television that don’t know the difference between a touchdown and goose down, yet they are analyzing Joe Flacco’s performance. You have to laugh at that but they become influential to the public, at large.”

Listen to the entire Joe Linta interview with WNST.net’s Drew Forrester HERE.

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