Proved he deserves it
Los Angeles Times
Tom Brady. Drew Brees. Aaron Rodgers. Peyton Manning. Pick an elite quarterback. Joe Flacco deserves that kind of money.
He proved it in the playoffs, throwing 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions. He proved it last year, when the Ravens would have made the Super Bowl but for Lee Evans dropping a TD pass that was in his hands.
Flacco is the unquestioned leader of the franchise, and a guy who has won at least one playoff game in each of his five seasons. Yes, the Ravens have been defined by their defense, but they're transitioning out of that.
And at 28, he has at least a decade more in him. The Ravens will lock him up with a long-term deal and give him the kind of money he deserves.
Has timing, leverage
Joe Flacco is a Super Bowl MVP, which puts him in some elite company. But he still is not as elite as the most elite in the NFL.
He is not as elite, for instance, as $20 million man Drew Brees. Or $19.2 million man Peyton Manning. Or $15.7 million man Tom Brady. Or $15.2 million man Eli Manning. Or $10.8 million man Aaron Rodgers.
You could debate if he is as elite as Ben Roethlisberger or Matt Ryan. Flacco is in the second tier of quarterbacks.
But given the timing of his performance and the leverage he has with an expiring contract, he will not be paid like a second-tier quarterback. His new contract probably will pay him like he is one of the best of the best.
It's Flacco's team now
We'll let Ravens coach John Harbaugh address his quarterback's contract situation — "Pay him whatever he wants. Pay the man." This wasn't after the Super Bowl. No, Harbaugh's declaration about Joe Flacco's contract came after the first game of the season, a 44-13 rout of the Bengals.
Imagine what leverage the Super Bowl MVP has now. With Ray Lewis retiring, it's Flacco's team now. In the playoffs, the offense stepped up and nobody was bigger than Flacco. He completed 73 of 126 passes for 1,140 yards and 11 touchdowns, and had passer rating of 117.2 in the postseason. He did not throw an interception.
Flacco can now demand elite money. He has earned it. Pay the man.
Close enough to elite
Joe Flacco will get $18 million to $20 million a year. And he deserves it.
A year ago, I'd have said no. Winning a Super Bowl helps greatly. It's a large factor when considering whether a quarterback should be considered "elite.
I'm still not sure Flacco is elite. I have a narrow definition of the term. It takes longevity.
If a quarterback has a subpar season and could still be considered in the upper echelon league-wide, he's on his way to being considered elite. Passer rating, touchdowns/interceptions, and victories count too.
Flacco is close enough to fit the elite criteria contract-wise. Pay the man.