By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun
8:02 AM EST, February 4, 2013
NEW ORLEANS -- Whether Joe Flacco becomes the Ravens' franchise player or lands the lucrative long-term contract extension he's seeking, the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player quarterback is about to become an extremely wealthy football player.
Flacco answered any remaining questions about his game by delivering 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the playoffs, tying him for most touchdowns in an NFL playoff season with Joe Montana and Kurt Warner.
So, Flacco will either get a $14.6 million franchise tag, an exclusive franchise tag worth as much as $20 million or a salary-cap friendly contract that would make both the towering New Jersey native and the Super Bowl champion Ravens organization very happy.
The deal could approach $100 million, Drew Brees stratosphere money.
Flacco displayed his sense of humor after the game in a television interview when asked about the unresolved contract talks, which owner Steve Bisciotti already expressed confidence will get done.
“Steve Bisciotti told me that if this happens I can go pound on his desk and really stick it to him," Flacco said. "And I said that’s exactly what I’m gonna do,"
The Ravens aren't in talks currently with Flacco's agent, Joe Linta, since hitting an impasse in August when Flacco turned down the Ravens' rich offer. He'll relaunch talks soon with Ravens vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty.
The Ravens aren't anywhere close on money with Flacco in terms of guaranteed money and total value, but obviously that can change.
Linta attended the festivities in New Orleans, but not to talk contract. There's plenty of time for that to happen going forward.
By signing Flacco, which is the top priority of the franchise this offseason, it would allow the Ravens a chance to potentially retain defensive free agents like Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Cary Williams and Ed Reed and avoid possible salary-cap casualties like wide receiver Anquan Boldin and fullback Vonta Leach.
As for Flacco on the field, teammates are so impressed with him.
And they love his stoic, dead-pan style.
"I'm happy for him," center Matt Birk said. "Joe doesn't need me to be proud of him, but that's Joe. How many guys have ever had as much success in five years and taken more criticism. He's kind of a victim of his own success, but Joe never wavers. Joe's Joe, a great guy, great teammate and great quarterback."
Flacco delivered three touchdown passes with no interceptions to topple the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
"Joe's always been a great quarterback," offensive tackle Michael Oher said. "He's been extremely unbelievable in these last five or six games. I wouldn't take any other quarterback over Joe. He's elite. He's a Raven. People give him slack and I don't know why. We love being underdogs. Joe's going to keep winning, and that's all that matter."
From Flacco's standpoint, the whole respect thing is irrelevant.
"I've never cared," he said. "I don't ever want to feel like I'm in a position to defend myself. It's just not right. I don't have to do that. We'll have this thing thing forever. Everybody on that team will be connected to each other forever and that's something pretty special."