By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun
7:12 PM EST, February 4, 2013
The agent for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco expressed confidence Monday that he'll be resuming contract negotiations with team vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty in the near future.
Following a masterful performance in the Super Bowl where he delivered three touchdowns, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player and awarded the keys to a 2014 Corvette Stingray, Flacco, a pending unrestricted free agent, is hoping for a smooth negotiation process.
Flacco’s rookie contract has expired. So the Ravens will either designate him as their non-exclusive franchise player at a projected cost of $14.6 million, apply the exclusive franchise tag figure at a cost of roughly $20 million, or give him the long-term, lucrative deal he’s long been seeking. The deal could approach $100 million.
“I’m sure Pat and I will be talking soon,” Joe Linta, Flacco’s agent, told The Baltimore Sun. “It’s hard to argue that Joe’s not the best guy out there now. I’m incredibly proud of him.”
Contract talks hit an impasse in August when the Ravens were initially confident they were on the verge of striking a deal with Flacco, their 2008 first-round draft pick from Delaware.
Ravens majority owner Steve Bisciotti told reporters days before the Super Bowl that he’s not concerned and expects the team to eventually hammer out a contract with Flacco.
“I’m pretty optimistic, but who knows?” Flacco said. “There’s all kinds of crazy things that can happen with these contracts that we’ve all seen before, but this is a great organization. I love being [in Baltimore], great city, so I don’t really anticipate any problems.”
Flacco displayed a sense of humor after the game in a television interview when asked about the unresolved contract talks.
“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.
“Me and Steve had some good talks over the last few months, and it’s just nice to go in and have conversations with him, whatever they may be. I was just kind of making a little joke.”
Flacco answered any remaining questions surrounding his game by completing 73 of 126 passes for 1,140 yards, 11 touchdowns and no interceptions for a 117.0 quarterback rating. His 11 touchdowns tied him for most touchdowns in an NFL playoff season with Joe Montana and Kurt Warner.
The Ravens aren’t anywhere close with Flacco yet in terms of guaranteed money and total value, but that can obviously change. Flacco, who turned down the Ravens’ top offer last summer, gained some leverage with his commanding postseason.
Linta attended the festivities in New Orleans, but not to talk contract.
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.
How so? A long-term deal frees up salary-cap space, whereas a franchise tender would cause all of the money to count against this year’s salary cap, which would likely lead to multiple departures from the roster.
Teammates appreciate Flacco’s low-key, stoic personality.
“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 is the Ravens’ all-time leading passer and the winningest quarterback in the NFL, including the regular season and postseason, over the past five seasons. He’s gone 63-30 overall, ranking ahead of Aaron Rodgers (57-29), Matt Ryan (57-26) and Drew Brees (56-29).
In the playoffs this year, Flacco outdueled the San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick, the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady, the Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck.
“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 matters.”
To Flacco, questions from outsiders about his ability have long been 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 forever. Everybody on that team will be connected to each other forever, and that’s something pretty special.”