If the Ravens are going to negotiate face to face with quarterback Joe Flacco's agent Joe Linta, he now expects it to take place at the earliest during the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.
Linta told The Baltimore Sun on Monday night nothing formal is scheduled for next week at this point, but he typically does meet with the Ravens during the combine where a lot of NFL business will be conducted.
Earlier in the day, a source with knowledge of the situation indicated that talks were expected to launch at team headquarters this week between Linta and Ravens vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty. Now, Linta is saying that's not the case.
Linta and the Ravens' front office, in talks led by Moriarty, negotiated last August before hitting a sticking point in discussions. The Flacco camp declined a lucrative, multi-year offer that would have paid him among the top five quarterbacks in the game, according to owner Steve Bisciotti.
Now Linta is seeking for Flacco to become the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. That would involve paying him more than Drew Brees' $20 million annual average and Peyton Manning's annual average of $18 million.
"We're looking to get a fair deal with Joe, and, yes, the franchise number does consume a lot of cap room," general manager Ozzie Newsome said during a news conference last week. "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."
The Ravens are in a tight salary-cap situation that will become even more problematic should they have to use a $14.6 million franchise tag to prevent Flacco from hitting free agency now that his rookie contract has expired. Should the Ravens use the exclusive franchise tag of roughly $20 million on Flacco, it will be even tougher for the Ravens to retain free agents like inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, outside linebacker Paul Kruger, cornerback Cary Williams and free safety Ed Reed.
The Ravens are facing a March 4 NFL deadline to use the franchise tag.
The Ravens are adamant that the lone candidate to get the franchise tag is Flacco. If they sign him to a long-term deal, team officials insist that no one else will be franchised.
"If we get a deal done with Joe, we will not franchise another player," Newsome said. "We will not do that."
Newsome then turned toward Bisciotti and asked him if that was all right with him.
Bisciotti replied promptly, saying: "Absolutely."