Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco just had the best season of his life. He led the Ravens to a Super Bowl Championship and was named Super Bowl MVP. It was perfect timing for Flacco because he was a free agent following the season.
Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer was the first to report Flacco’s new contract spanning six years and worth over $120 million. The specifics of the contract have not been released, but what does it mean to the Cincinnati Bengals, who have been bottom feeders in the AFC North for so long?
Does it mean the beating the Bengals have taken at the hands of the Steelers and Ravens will continue? This new contract could hurt the chances of the Bengals winning a division title and finally making a Super Bowl run. Flacco could lead the Ravens to multiple Super Bowl Championships, or it could force the Ravens to part with key free agents who can make more money elsewhere.
Even though the Ravens have their franchise passer locked up for the next six years, it doesn’t mean the Bengals can’t beat them. Flacco is now the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL.
With more money comes more pressure, and he has never had contractual pressure to perform. Now, he needs to fill $20 million shoes. Not many quarterbacks in this league are worth that. Can Flacco live up to the pressure and get his named mention with Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady?
The Ravens will have to make decisions on key players that also helped them win the Super Bowl. Would the Ravens have won it all if Anquan Boldin didn’t play in the postseason? Most people would say no.
There is speculation Baltimore may have to part ways with Boldin. Veteran safety Ed Reed is a future Hall-of-Famer, but he is also a free agent and could join another team. Young playmakers like Dannell Ellerbe and Cary Williams are also free agents for Baltimore.
The argument could be made that while Flacco’s deal offers stability at the quarterback position, it also takes money away from other guys who were key in bringing a Super Bowl Championship to Baltimore.
Maybe the Bengals sign a departing Raven like Reed, Ellerbe or Williams. The Ravens could get a deal done with one or two of them, but someone is leaving. As great as Flacco’s contract is for the Ravens, it could also hurt them. The defense that was once dominant could be simply average if they don’t re-sign their free agent players. Flacco calls himself a top-tier quarterback, but his big money contract could cost his team wins.
Bengals fans should be happy the Ravens are spending $120 million on Flacco, because it could help the young Bengals to become the dominant team in the division.
As free agency heats up, it will be interesting to see who the Ravens re-sign. If Baltimore loses veterans on defense, the young Bengals could face two older teams they can compete with in the Steelers and Ravens.
Don’t look now, but this off-season could make the Bengals the favorites in the AFC North heading into next season.