Contract negotiations between the Ravens and quarterback Joe Flacco have yet to resume, but the elite asking price the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player hopes to command is becoming clear.
Now that Flacco has led the Ravens to a victory over the San Francisco 49ers with three touchdown passes in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, his agent is hoping to make him the highest-paid quarterback in the game. That would entail a multi-year contract exceeding New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ annual average of $20 million and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning’s annual average of $18 million.
“Somebody said, ‘Should Joe be the highest-paid quarterback in the game?’ I said, ‘Yes,’ ” Flacco’s agent, Joe Linta, told The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday night in a telephone interview. “I’m not going to be apologetic for him. He’s shown he’s a big-time guy in terms of contract versus other guys. He’s a lot younger than them, too. He’s hitting his prime.”
The Ravens’ brass, including owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh, will assemble Thursday morning at team headquarters for a state-of-the-team news conference that follows a high-level meeting Wednesday where undoubtedly they discussed a strategy for Flacco’s unresolved contract status.
Now that Flacco’s rookie contract has expired, the Ravens have three primary options:
1) Sign Flacco to an expensive long-term deal that could free up salary cap space to possibly retain key defensive free agents such as inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, outside linebacker Paul Kruger, cornerback Cary Williams and free safety Ed Reed.
2) Make him their nonexclusive franchise player with a one-year tender of $14.6 million, all of which would count against this year’s salary cap and would make it tough to hold on other free agents. It would also potentially involve the risk of losing Flacco if another team signed him to an offer sheet and the Ravens opted not to match; if that happened, they would be compensated with two first-round draft picks.
3) Assign Flacco the exclusive franchise tender of roughly $20 million, which cuts out the risk that another team would sign him to a contract, and would further cramp an already tight salary cap situation.
Talks should be underway soon but how this issue plays out will be pivotal in the Ravens roster construction for the 2013 season.