Joe Flacco will play his last game under his rookie contract against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in Super Bowl XLVII, but owner Steve Bisciotti made clear that he intends to keep the quarterback in a Ravens uniform for a long time.
Bisciotti said Thursday that the two sides were "real close" to a deal when the talks were tabled just before the start of this season, and he's "very comfortable" that an agreement on a long-term contract extension for Flacco will be reached in the coming months.
"We have a franchise quarterback, he's going to get franchise money," Bisciotti said in an interview with a small group of reporters Thursday. "That franchise money thing is about as hard to define as the word 'elite,' which we've had to dissect a hundred different ways. We've got our quarterback for the next 10 years and we're going to ride Joe. And we said in the last couple of years that we believed he can get us to Super Bowls and win some. So we're four days short of finding out whether he can win, but he got us there and he did it in grand fashion. So I find myself very optimistic about this."
Flacco, who has thrown eight touchdowns and no interceptions in the postseason, technically could become a free agent in March if his agent, Joe Linta, can't reach an agreement on an extension with the Ravens. However, the Ravens won't let it get to that point. They'd apply the franchise tag on the fifth-year quarterback, putting him in line to make $14.6 million next season if a deal isn't reached by July.
On Thursday, Flacco called it a "good problem to have and be talking about." Bisciotti acknowledged that having to pay Flacco the franchise tender could cost the team a player or two, but he said that it would be a good "dry run" for the future, calling the situation "forced financial management."
"We've never lost a great, great franchise player from the beginning. I'm just very comfortable that it will get done," Bisciotti said. "The fact that we're offering more per year than the franchise tag, to me it can't be too far away if where we stopped last year, the annual average was higher than the franchise tag. It never got contentious, so I can't say cooler heads will prevail. It will just take time and we have the franchise tag available, so it's not going to be a March [deadline]. It's going to be a July [deadline]. I trust that Ozzie and Joe are going to come to an agreement that Joe's happy with and I'm happy with."