INDIANAPOLIS — There is mounting optimism with the Ravens that they'll be able to reach agreement on a new contract for quarterback Joe Flacco before the March 9 start of free agency.
Ravens senior vice president of administration Pat Moriarty was expected to meet with Flacco's agent, Joe Linta, this week at the NFL scouting combine. It's unclear whether they've had their official meeting and there is still work to be done, but sources familiar with the situation have expressed confidence that an agreement can be reached based on preliminary conversations between both sides.
Flacco has certainly made it clear that he's ready and willing to talk about a new deal.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said yesterday that he would be surprised if an agreement can't be reached.
"He knows that he's in it for the long haul and he wants to put the best team we can on the field," Harbaugh said of Flacco. "He also wants to earn what he's worth, and whatever he signs for, he's going to want to prove that he's worth it, too. That's just how Joe thinks. I'm pretty fired up about it. I'll be really surprised and disappointed if it doesn't get done. Then again, I'm not the guy doing the deal. It's easy for me to say."
Flacco, 31, is entering the fourth season of a six-year, $120.6 million deal that he signed after leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl XLVII victory to cap the 2012 season. His salary cap number rises to $28.55 million this season, which would be prohibitive for a Ravens team that has several needs to fill.
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has been adamant that the Ravens don't have to address Flacco's deal, but it certainly would help give them some flexibility this offseason.
"The deal was built back-loaded cap-wise as you know," Harbaugh said. "Now, it starts being very expensive for us. I think Ozzie said that we could make it work, but it's better if we can get a deal done obviously and spread the money around a little bit. I don't think Joe is talking about taking any pay cuts that I'm aware of, though that would be great if he would."