DENVER — Quarterback Joe Flacco was not the only one to be rewarded financially after the Ravens' victory in Super Bowl XLVII in February.
Coach John Harbaugh, who has led the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his five seasons at the helm, agreed to a four-year contract extension that will make him one of the highest-paid coaches in the NFL, a team source confirmed.
The deal was reached "months ago," according to a source. However, it just surfaced Thursday about an hour before the NFL season opener between the Ravens and the Denver Broncos.
ESPN first reported the deal, with ProFootballTalk.com reporting that the agreement will pay Harbaugh nearly $7million per season. According to the website, only three coaches are believed to make more than $7 million per year: the New England Patriots' Bill Belichick, the New Orleans Saints' Sean Payton and the Kansas City's Chiefs' Andy Reid.
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome declined to comment on the report when approached in the press box at Sports Authority Field before the game.
In 2011, Harbaugh, 50, signed a three-year contract extension worth $4 million per season. However, after the team's second Super Bowl victory and the first for Harbaugh, the Ravens ripped up the final two years of the deal in favor of the four-year extension. He's now signed through the 2016 season.
The deal is owner Steve Bisciotti's latest move to secure the future of core members of the organization. Flacco and running back Ray Rice, whose rookie seasons coincided with Harbaugh's first year as coach, have been rewarded in recent months.
Flacco, the Most Valuable Player of February's Super Bowl, agreed to a six-year, $120.6million contract extension in March. Rice, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, signed a five-year, $35 million deal in July 2012.
A member of a highly successful football family, Harbaugh was the Philadelphia Eagles' special teams coordinator from 1998 to 2006. He became the Eagles' secondary coach in 2007.
Because he had no head coaching experience at the college or NFL level, Harbaugh was an unconventional choice to succeed the fired Brian Billick in 2008. Harbaugh has had unprecedented success, becoming the only NFL head coach since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons. Harbaugh is also the first coach in NFL history to reach three conference title games in his first five seasons.
Entering Thursday's regular-season opener, Harbaugh had a regular-season record of 54-26. The .675 winning percentage is second only to that of Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith, a former Ravens assistant.
This season might represent one of the biggest challenges yet for Harbaugh; the Ravens played Thursday night's game without nine players who started when the Ravens beat his older brother Jim's San Francisco 49ers, 34-31, in the Super Bowl.