NEW ORLEANS - Whether it's under a long-term deal or merely under the team's franchise tag, quarterback Joe Flacco will be back in a Baltimore Ravens uniform next season.
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome virtually guaranteed as much during Tuesday's Media Day at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. But Newsome, who declined to comment on Flacco's unresolved contract situation just days earlier, told the NFL Network that he's confident the team will be able to work out a long-term deal with Flacco.
Flacco's in the final year of his rookie contract and will be an unrestricted free agent following the conclusion of the season.
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that Flacco is expected to seek in excess of $18 million per year.
"We'll be able to get that thing done," Newsome told the NFL Network. "But one thing we do know, he'll be playing football for us next year. And sometimes that's all you can look forward to is just next year."
Flacco was reportedly seeking a contract worth in the range of $100 million over seven years prior to the season.
CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora reported Tuesday that Baltimore plans to franchise tag Flacco and will then attempt to work out a deal during the course of the offseason.
According to La Canfora, "the closer that is to $20 million a year, the happier he'll be and the more quickly this long-term deal will get done. Maybe it comes in under that ... but 20 is his magic number."
Said Newsome, via the NFL Network: "I can say this: Joe and I are in a good spot. I did Jonathan Ogden's contract. I did Ray Lewis' contract. I did [Haloti] Ngata's contract. I did [Terrell] Suggs'. I did Ray Rice's a year ago. So, you know what, we'll be able to get that thing done."
REED'S FUTURE: Newsome also addressed the future of safety Ed Reed, telling the NFL Network that he plans to meet with the impending free agent after the season.
"I'm going to sit down and talk with Ed once it's all said and done," Newsome told the NFL Network. "I know he's totally focused on winning this game in his hometown, and then once the air clears, Ed and I have gotten to a point where he and I can really talk man-to-man, and I think we'll be able to have that conversation a week or two from now."
MARIUCCI PICKS 49ERS: The NFL Network made several of their analysts available to the media Tuesday - including former St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, former St. Louis Rams running back Marshal Faulk, former San Diego Chargers and New York Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson, former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin and former NFL coaches Brian Billick and Steve Mariucci.
Billick was the Ravens head coach from 1999 to 2007. Mariucci coached the San Francisco 49ers from 1997 to 2002 and the Detroit Lions from 2003 to 2005.
Asked Tuesday whether he has a prediction for Sunday's Super Bowl matchup between Baltimore and San Francisco, Mariucci said, "I think it's going to be a great game, but I think the 49ers win it."
Added Mariucci: "I think there's going to be, mark this down, two [pivotal] big runs by [San Francisco quarterback Colin] Kaepernick. I think the Ravens play good defense, play good defense, play good defense and then all of a sudden 'Pow.' ... That's my guess. That's my prediction. But I might change my mind by tomorrow."
Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns during San Francisco's divisional round win over the Green Bay Packers.
A multi-dimensional threat, Kaepernick's thrown for an average of 234 yards in his nine games since taking over as the 49ers' starting quarterback while adding an average of 49 yards per game on the ground.
O-LINE THE KEY FOR RAVENS OFFENSE: The Ravens' reshuffled offensive line has not only kept pressure at a minimum on Flacco thus far in the playoffs, but it's also paved the way for running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce to rush for a combined 416 yards and two touchdowns.
The offensive line's yielded just four sacks this postseason.
And behind the offensive line, Baltimore's posted averages of 425 yards per game and 30 points per game thus far in the playoffs.
Flacco's thrown eight touchdowns without an interceptions during the postseason while throwing for an average of 284 yards per game.
According to former New York Giants offensive lineman and current NFL Network analyst Shaun O'Hara, the Ravens' reshuffled offensive line "is the reason the Ravens are in the Super Bowl."
"Without a doubt, the way that unit has played is the reason the Ravens are in the Super Bowl," O'Hara said. "Their run game has benefited. But more importantly, the pass protection. Joe Flacco doesn't throw two touchdowns on [Denver Broncos cornerback] Champ Bailey if he's not standing upright in the pocket and able to step up and deliver those throws. What Joe's accomplished is in direct correlation to how well the offensive line has played."
McCLAIN'S STATUS IN DOUBT FOR NEXT SEASON: Injured Ravens inside linebacker Jameel McClain voiced uncertainty Tuesday regarding his availability for next season.
McClain suffered a spinal cord contusion against the Washington Redskins in early December and was placed on season-ending injured reserve a week later.
"Right now, we're just taking it slow and resting," McClain said, later adding, "[The doctors] talk about what they talk about, but the goal's to be playing next year."
McClain ranked third on Baltimore in tackles (79) at the time of his injury. He's been a starter at inside linebacker each of the last three years and signed a two-year, $10.5 million contract with the Ravens during this past offseason.
McClain's injury further complicates an already murky situation for Baltimore at inside linebacker.
Ray Lewis has announced his plans to retire following the season and Dannell Ellerbe will be an unrestricted free agent.