Joe Flacco is in a great position, his agent is in an even better position. Flacco, who just won the Super Bowl MVP, put together one of the most impressive post-season’s since Montana. He has more leverage than should even be fair. However, it brings a few interesting scenarios and one all important question.
First, is the fact that the franchise tag is now pretty much out of play. The non-exclusive tag (allows Flacco to negotiate with other teams, the Ravens then get seven days to match the offer, if they do not they get 2 1st round picks from the team that made the offer) which would have been offered to Joe before he won the Super Bowl would have allowed him to be paid around 15 million a season, while they get to negotiate a long term deal. Before the Super Bowl, no team is going to make a ridiculous offer that the Ravens are not able to match and on top of that give up 2 first round picks for a guy who was streaky and average at best. After the run, it is completely feasible for a team like the Browns to throw a ridiculous 120 million dollar contract out there and put the already over the cap Ravens in a serious dilemma. If they cannot afford to match the offer Flacco walks. That will be followed by now-retired Ray Lewis doing some mercenary work and facilitating the murder of someone in Browns Management (because he has never done that before…). So they have to use the exclusive tag, which pretty much guarantees Flacco 20 million plus a season for one year. What would you do?
Then there’s the bigger question, the question that his agent really does not give a fuck about, but will ultimately decide Flacco’s legacy (a sentence I never thought I would type) and whether he continues to win and be successful. That is, at what point does Flacco accept less money to ensure that the team is still competitive? This question is not just for Flacco, but for all QB’s and superstar players. Now for guys like running backs and wide receivers, I say get as much as you can whenever you can, because most of you are 2 years removed from the league AT ANY TIME in your career, so get paid. Quarterbacks on the other hand, if they play consistently well, will have 2 or 3 contracts in their life time and 2 of those might be pretty big (although the new rookie wage scale wrecks the first one, which used to be ridiculous). So, does Flacco go into the cap strapped team and demand to be paid ridiculous sums of money? So much that they have to cut o-linemen, or even his favorite target, Boldin?
It becomes a tricky situation, because just like anyone, he wants to get paid. But, how much is he willing to sacrifice? On top of that, what if he gets the huge deal and the team, because they have less cap room, ends up worse off? His performance begins to suffer and he ends up getting cut three or four years down the road? A team that was built for so many years on their defense is no longer able to constantly field a quality unit and begins to give up tons of points. Will he allow his agent to do this to his team?
I mentioned this earlier, but it stands a reasonable chance of happening. Flacco gets paid, and Boldin, who is 32 gets cut. The Ravens have survived not by paying aging stars or quality players they have discovered, but on the philosophy that “we found them once, we can find another one”. However, a 27 year old player at the most important position coming off his best season ever does not fall under this category. It is a great example of how messed up the financial system in the NFL has become. To keep your star QB and MVP, you have to let go of his favorite target and best clutch receiver.
So the future of the Ravens rests with Joe Flacco, will he have the humility and the control over his agent to get him a solid deal, while still allowing the Ravens to be fiscally competitive in the future? Or will he be selfish and demand that they pay him?