The Ravens remain firm in their belief that they were on the verge of hammering out a deal with quarterback Joe Flacco last August before hitting an impasse in contract negotiations with his agent.
Ravens majority owner Steve Bisciotti said the team offered Flacco top-five quarterback money without disclosing figures. If that's the case, it would have paid him in the range of $16 million to $20 million annually based on other quarterbacks' compensation levels.
Now, the Super Bowl champions are hoping to work out a deal this offseason with the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player after tabling talks for the entire season.
Flacco's agent, Joe Linta, has told The Baltimore Sun he thinks Flacco should be the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. That would involve exceeding Drew Brees' $20 million average per year and Peyton Manning's $18 million average.
“We offered him a top-five contract last year, and we will be back at the negotiating table, and it was pretty close last year," Bisciotti said Thursday during a press conference at team headquarters. "So, we’ll be right back at the table and I don't see us winning the Super Bowl making the negotiation any more difficult than it would have been had we gone out in the first round of the playoffs. We both know that we want each other, and it's up to [general manager] Ozzie [Newsome] and Joe Linta to work that out. Then, Joe [Flacco] and I will go golfing or something like that."
Linta told The Sun he's prepared to relaunch discussions with Ravens vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty whenever the team wants to sit down with him.
Newsome expressed confidence a deal eventually will be completed, referencing past contracts with high-profile players like outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and running back Ray Rice.
"I am coming away thinking that we can get a deal done," Newsome said. "I got a very good owner. He understands the business. He understands the importance of certain positions, so I'm optimistic."
The Ravens are facing a March 4 NFL deadline to make Flacco their franchise player to avoid him becoming an unrestricted free agent. They are debating between whether to use a non-exclusive franchise tender of $14.6 million or an exclusive tender of roughly $20 million.
If the Ravens are unable to get a contract done with Flacco, it would negatively impact their ability to retain other free agents like inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, outside linebacker Paul Kruger and cornerback Cary Williams.
Should the Ravens get a long-term deal finished with Flacco, Newsome indicated they won't use the
franchise tag to retain any other free agents.
"We're looking to get a fair deal with Joe, and, yes, the franchise number does consume a lot of cap room," Newsome said. "Joe Linta is looking for a fair deal. If we are able to get a deal done, it will allow us to participate more in the market if we choose. We understand what the priority is."