Tag Archive | "joe linta"

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Business about to pick up as Ravens brass travels to NFL scouting combine

Posted on 20 February 2013 by Luke Jones

After only a couple weeks to set offseason priorities and plans following their win in Super Bowl XLVII, the Ravens realize business is about to pick up as the shapers of the organization travel to Indianapolis for the NFL’s scouting combine.

Most teams will be focused primarily on scouting the incoming rookie class ahead of April’s draft and holding informal discussions — don’t dare call these talks tampering, however — with the agents of soon-to-be free agents, but the Ravens hold the clearest and most important task of any team in Indianapolis. General manager Ozzie Newsome and vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty are set to meet with quarterback Joe Flacco’s agent for their first contract negotiations since last August. Joe Linta has expressed a desire for his client to become the highest-paid quarterback in the league and is reportedly seeking upwards of $20 million per season.

As unlikely as it is that the sides come to an agreement on a long-term contract this weekend in Indianapolis, it will be important to see progress made from the point where talks broke down prior to last season. The first real deadline on which to be focused is March 4, the last day the Ravens are allowed to place the franchise tag on Flacco for the 2013 season. Should the Ravens be forced to use the $14.6 non-exclusive tag or the exclusive one estimated to cost $20 million or more for a one-year tender, they will be faced with making a number of roster cuts to be in compliance with the salary cap by the start of the new league year on March 12.

While Flacco’s side is likely willing to be creative in structuring a deal to quell cap concerns for the 2013 season, Linta made it clear a couple weeks ago that it’s not his client’s obligation to take a hometown discount to bail the Ravens out of trouble.

“There are a lot of teams in the same boat; the Ravens aren’t the only ones with cap problems,” Linta said on AM 1570 WNST.net earlier this month. “Whether it’s Joe or any of the other free agents who are upcoming, they have to figure out how to do it. Every time you’re a cap manager like Ozzie and Pat are, you have to come up with a puzzle that works for you.”

As Moriarty’s focus will largely be on making substantial strides in order to lock up the Super Bowl MVP for the long haul, the rest of the organization will be consumed with 40-yard dash times, bench-press reps, medical exams, and interviews with countless draft prospects. And considering their tenuous cap position and how it will hinder their ability to be overly active in free agency, the Ravens will depend on April’s draft as much as ever to replenish the voids left by departing members of their Super Bowl championship team.

Te’o talk

No draft prospect will be under more scrutiny in the coming days than Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, who claimed to be the victim of an online hoax that’s drawn an overwhelming amount of attention for the better part of a month. He will be peppered with questions about the story of his nonexistent girlfriend and must test well to put himself back in position to be a top-15 pick.

It’s no secret that the Ravens will be looking at the inside linebacker position due to the retirement of future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, the uncertain status of free-agent linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, and the health of Jameel McClain after he suffered a spinal cord contusion in December. Te’o has been deemed a logical fit by many draft analysts who have linked him to the Ravens at the 32nd overall pick in mock drafts. It is believed that the Ravens are impressed with the 255-pound linebacker’s ability despite his poor showing in the BCS national championship game against Alabama last month.

As is the case with any player dealing with off-field issues, it’s critical for teams to draw a definitive assessment of his ability on the field before even contemplating taking the time and resources to investigate whether they can tolerate the baggage that will accompany Te’o. His is an unprecedented case as issues of trust and whether the young linebacker will be resilient enough to deal with the intense scrutiny in the months and years to come must be strongly considered.

If the Ravens are convinced the Heisman Trophy runner-up is fast enough to go sideline to sideline — his 40 time will be a major point of interest for teams — and strong enough to take on offensive linemen in the NFL, they will do their homework on his character to determine whether he’s a realistic option at the No. 32 spot. If not, they will turn to other prospects at the position.

Another inside linebacker dealing with off-field baggage is Georgia’s Alec Ogletree, who was arrested earlier this month for DUI. Ogletree excelled at a number of positions for the Bulldogs and is considered exceptional in pass coverage, but his off-field issues — he was also suspended four games last season for failing a drug test during spring practice — may send him down the draft board, making him a possibility at the end of the first round. The questions associated with Te’o and Ogletree may benefit the Ravens, who would have figured to have no chance for either player under regular circumstances.

Other inside linebacker prospects that could be options in the first few rounds include LSU’s Kevin Minter, Oregon’s Kiko Alonso, and Alabama’s Nico Johnson, who will not participate at the combine after undergoing sports hernia surgery following the Senior Bowl.

Addressing the blind side


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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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Here’s an idea…let’s bring back Anthony Wright or Kyle Boller

Posted on 11 February 2013 by Drew Forrester

You people have reached an all-time low now.

Seriously.  I thought it was bad when a quarter of the stadium cheered after Kyle Boller suffered an in-game injury, but that’s nothing compared to what we’re currently going through with regard to Joe Flacco.

Last week – and I’m sure, even more again this coming week – a bunch of you either called the show or e-mailed me to talk about Joe Flacco’s contract situation.  Somehow, as if you had been struck in the head by a two-by-four, you managed to exceed the stupidity-cap by saying stuff like this:

“Look, Flacco’s a good quarterback, but we can’t mortgage the franchise for him.”

“If Joe really wants to show what kind of teammate he is, he’ll take a little less money so the Ravens can keep some of their veterans like Kruger, Ellerbe and Cary Williams.”

“Anyone can win one Super Bowl. If Joe really wants that hundred million dollar contract, he has to do it one more time.”

All three of those calls came in to my show.  Scanning the local radio dial last week, I heard a lot more of that nonsense – and then some, as folks who can’t come to grips with the fact that Flacco is a champion just decided to say dumb stuff and hope it passed as intelligence.

It didn’t.

If you aren’t convinced that Joe Flacco is the real deal by now, you should literally sell your season tickets back to the Ravens and  rake leaves on Sundays in the fall.

For starters, Flacco deserves every penny he can squeeze out of Ozzie Newsome.  It doesn’t matter how much it is.  If the quarterback is happy with the deal, it’s fair.  Get it done – and pay the man.

Some folks are saying “he doesn’t deserve to be the highest paid quarterback in the league.”  OK, well, then, how DOES he become the highest paid QB in the league if he’s not that guy right now?  If he can’t earn the largest contract in the league after doing what he has done over the last five years, when CAN he earn it?  Does everyone understand what’s going on here in Baltimore?  After twelve years of employing stiffs at quarterback, the Ravens finally found their gem in 2008.  All he’s done since then is win more games than any other guy at his position in the league.  Three trips to the AFC title game, a Super Bowl title…

Somehow, there are nitwits in town who still think this guy Flacco doesn’t deserve to cash in.

I know we fancy ourselves an upscale, sophisticated sports community, but it’s times like these when I wonder how some of you find your way back and forth to work each day.

Joe Flacco just delivered the city a world football championship and, within days of doing so, you were already back to taking a shot at him or challenging him to “prove” how great he is by winning just one more championship.

I wish I represented Flacco.  Not that Joe Linta isn’t doing a good job for him, but I’d go see Ozzie with a huge duffel bag and dump it out on his desk.  You know what would be in there?  I would have copied enough $100 bills to fill the bag up and then I would spread it out on Oz’s desk and say, “That’s what $150 million looks like in case you were wondering.”  (Yeah, I know, a whole duffel bag of fake $100 bills probably wouldn’t equal $150 million but it’s all in the presentation.)

All the man has done since he showed up here in 2008 is WIN.  That’s it.  He’s started every game, won most of them, and guided his team through four post-season games in 2013 and won the world title last Sunday night.

A week later, and people are still putting the dude down.

It’s embarrassing, honestly.

And sad, too.

The only good news is that Flacco is going to be too busy to listen to talk radio, surf the web or read the newspaper.

You’d be busy, too, if you were counting that much money.


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Will Breaking the Bank Bust the Cap?

Posted on 07 February 2013 by 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. .


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Does Ozzie Newsome deserve some blame in the Flacco-Cameron saga?

Posted on 11 December 2012 by Drew Forrester

If you’re one of those who like to play the blame-game, Monday’s dismissal of Cam Cameron offers you a smorgasbord of options on which to feast.

In no specific order, you have the following:

John Harbaugh, the man who employed Cam for the last 4+ seasons, and the person in charge of the on-field product, which includes being in touch with his players and their festering aggravation with one of his coaches.

Steve Bisciotti, who, while rightfully considered in general a “good owner”, has spent a little too much time over the years hob-knobbing with the players to the extent he might be closer with them then he should be.

Joe Flacco, perhaps the main spoke in the Cameron firing-wheel, and the guy who potentially might have suffered the most while working under his now former boss.  But, if Cameron was inconsistent as a play-caller and offensive coordinator, Flacco has to wear the same basic scarlet letter, for he, too, hasn’t exactly been a shining beacon of consistency in the last four months.

The Ravens defense, which has been occasionally superb but more often a liability this season, particularly in the final 5 minutes of the team’s most two recent losses to the Steelers and Redskins.  True, they were very good earlier in the year against the Chiefs and the Browns and the Chargers.  They were also woefully exposed by the Cowboys, Texans, Steelers (with a bum at quarterback) and Redskins.

The Ravens offense, with players in key positions not playing up to par week-in and week-out.  I’m all for Jim Caldwell taking over at this point, but I’d be shocked if he can give back to Anquan Boldin that step he’s lost over the last year or so…or turn Michael Oher into a premier pass blocker as a left tackle…or heal Marshal Yanda’s bad ankle within two weeks…or get Torrey Smith to run his routes to completion the way they’re designed in the playbook.

And then, there’s one other name to add to the mix:  Ozzie Newsome.

Let the continuing story of “how Cam got canned” be examined with Ozzie’s name in mind, for it’s Newsome who wasn’t able to ink a new deal with his team’s franchise quarterback, thus paving the way for Joe Flacco to play the 2012 campaign as a “lame duck”.

Yes, there always remains the option of the franchise tag for Flacco.  But, as any player will tell you, that’s a band-aid – a nice, lucrative one – he’d rather not wear if it’s possible.

The easiest way to start any conversation about Joe Flacco and his contract situation is to simply say this about him and his future in Baltimore:  The Ravens want him back in 2013 and Flacco would like to return for a 6th season.

There’s no debating that at this point.  The two parties are still in love.

But – and here’s where we start the dissection of how things are off kilter – these are very complicated times in Owings Mills, particularly when it comes to assessing Flacco’s value.

And who’s fault is that?

If you ask Flacco and/or his agent, Joe Linta, they’re going to place the blame squarely on the employer — the Ravens, the offense and, naturally, Cam Cameron.

Linta, as a natural reaction to his Flacco’s contract status being in the spotlight, would argue up and down that with each passing game where the Baltimore offense was stagnant or stuck in neutral because of Cameron’s inconsistency, his client was effectively “losing money”.

Honestly — he’s right.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that his client doesn’t bear some of that responsibility.  He, Flacco, that is, might be costing himself money with every incompletion or strip-sack or poor audible.

But the agent would never admit that to the general manager of the team.

Instead – and if you close your eyes and let the movie play out in your head, you’ll hear it for yourself – I’m quite certain with every “new conversation” Linta and Newsome have had over the few months that Joe’s representative has reminded Ozzie in no uncertain terms that Cameron and the on-again, off-again Ravens offense is costing the quarterback big money.

“Ozzie, I respect you and the organization and so does Joe,” Linta is likely saying.  “But you can’t possibly think you’re doing my client a true service by having Cam Cameron operate that offense in such a manner that it’s clearly hindering his qualities as a high-level NFL player.  You’ve known for a year now that Cam and Joe can’t exist together in the long run.  They’ve tried to make it work and it’s just not going to happen.  All you’re doing by trying to force this Cameron-Flacco relationship on both of them is costing Joe Flacco money.  And, even though I make little in comparison to my client, you’re costing ME money, too.  Get this Cameron thing sorted out and let’s make Joe the $90 million player he deserves to be.”

I imagine a conversation like that has been going on nearly every Monday or so for the last 13 weeks.

(Please see next page)

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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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