When the Ravens and Joe Flacco agreed in August to put off negotiations on a long-term contract extension, the thinking was that the organization would wait to see what the quarterback could accomplish in the final season of the five-year contract that he signed as a rookie after he was selected in the first round of the NFL draft in 2008.
Now that Flacco has averaged 284.3 passing yards, tossed eight touchdowns against zero interceptions, and posted a 114.7 passer rating in three postseason games, Kurt Warner thinks the Ravens are going to have to open up the wallet to retain Flacco.
Warner, the two-time NFL Most Valuable Player who led the St Louis Rams to victory at Super Bowl XXXIV and is now an analyst for the NFL Network, said on Tuesday night's NFL Total Access that Flacco has answered questions about whether he is deserving of a deal on par to what peers like the Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning, the New England Patriots' Tom Brady and the New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees have earned.
"There were a lot of questions," Warner said according to quotes distributed by the network. "He came out and said that he was an elite quarterback before the season. Not sure he quite lived up to that billing game in and game out throughout the season. But there is no better time to make a case for yourself than playoff time. Obviously, it's the most important time of the year, it's the last games you are going to play. So that's what everybody is going to remember about you. I don't think there are any questions anymore. I believed he was a franchise quarterback before this playoffs and now taking your time to the Super Bowl, not very many guys have that opportunity, not very many guys are those types of quarterback. I believe at the end of this whole thing, he's going to get one of those $100 million contracts. Then he is going to have to build on it and keep his team in contention year in and year out."
Aside from the individual numbers, Warner said he has been impressed with Flacco's play in this year's playoffs versus last season's run to the AFC championship game.
"He's been extremely efficient and extremely consistent through this playoff run," Warner said. "The biggest question we've always had with Joe Flacco is, can he be consistent game in and game out? We haven't necessarily seen that every single season, or from the first eight games of the year to the last eight games of the year. But that's what we've seen come playoff time. He's been consistent, he's been able to make the intermediate throws, he's been able to make the big plays which obviously he does as well as anybody in the league. He's been able to make those throughout the playoffs. But that's what I love. Regardless of the situation, he's been able to make the proper read and the proper play with the football."