Now that Ed Reed has confirmed his intention to play football this year and Ray Rice’s appetite for greenback gluttony has been satiated, fans in Baltimore need a new place to direct their fears, concerns, and reasons to take long walks on train tracks.
That search may be a long one because Joe Flacco could receive his extension soon, leading to further alleviation of stress. But hey, hating Billy Cundiff must still be entertaining.
Flacco is in the final year of a contract that will pay him $6.76 million this season, and the 27-year-old has been vocal about his desire for an extension, and some long-term security. If we’re to believe the sources of NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, then there’s a very good chance Flacco will be taken care of by next week before training camp starts. In fact, if I were to guess without looking at Jeremiah’s report, I’d peg the chances of an agreement at about 75 percent, because that still seems low enough to be believable, and generic enough to work.
Oh sweet, bang on. How ’bout them grapefruits, Jeremiah…
Flacco’s original rookie contract is set to expire after the season, and the Ravens are working to sign him to a long-term deal. After being selected in the first round of the 2008 draft, Flacco already has established himself as the top signal-caller in the Ravens’ brief history.
After securing Rice and ensuring that he wouldn’t be playing under an expensive franchise tag worth $7.7 million this season, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome left himself some salary cap room to work with. Specifically, he has about $3.5 million in space, which should be enough to secure Flacco too, but predicting a quarterback contract in a zany time for the position is difficult.
Flacco isn’t Drew Brees. Statistically last year he was closer to Ryan Fitzpatrick and Colt McCoy. But like a kid running home with his first A on a finger painting, Flacco has proclaimed that he’s a top five quarterback, and he’s holding that status high and proudly, even though that’s comically absurd. Top five QBs don’t have a mediocre completion percentage (57.6), and an equally average 80.9 passer rating. The card-carrying curmudgeons will point to Flacco’s status as a winner and a proven playoff savvy veteran, even though his yards per attempt (6.7, ranking him 22nd) hovered in Josh Freeman territory, and even though he struggled heavily in the divisional round when the opposing QB was T.J. Yates, who’s far less proven and savvy.
All of this adds up to a player who needs and deserves security because he’s a good–not great–quarterback whose game managing ability perfectly fits a Baltimore system that still relies on heavy doses of grinding and smashing between Rice and the defense. But that question of value still lingers during contract talks, and now even if he’s far from being Brees, the historic contract signed by the Saints quarterback will impact and possibly inflate Flacco’s deal.
In fact, it’ll inflate every future quarterback contract until we reach a time when throwing in abundance isn’t the preferred method to win football games.
When the top domino has fallen and sets a precedent, the others fall in line accordingly, and the end game is that each QB deal increases incrementally. Aaron Rodgers stands to benefit the most, and if his MVP play continues, the 28-year-old will be in line to establish his own monetary record three years from now when he becomes a free agent. Same with Eli Manning, the defending Super Bowl quarterback who also becomes a free agent in 2015. He didn’t finish far behind Brees in yardage during his record-breaking season, yet Manning’s average yearly pay is still significantly less (Manning is bringing in $15.3 million and Rodgers is getting alarmingly less at $10.8 million, while Brees is at $20 million).
As the kings swim in more riches, the status of the mid-level peons rises too, and that includes Flacco.