Before last season, Joe Flacco was tooting his own horn, saying he was an elite quarterback. To the surprise of many, Flacco halted contract negotiations with the Baltimore Ravens prior to the beginning of the season, basically pushing all his chips in and betting on his performance in the 2012 season.
That gamble turned into one of the best contract parlays in NFL history, as Flacco’s flawless postseason play earned him the most lucrative contract in NFL history. Flacco will sign a six-year, $120.6 million contract on Monday, just prior to the NFL’s franchise deadline at 4 p.m. on Monday.
Flacco is in line to earn $20.1 million a season, making slightly more than Drew Brees and his $20 million a season. While Flacco hasn’t put up the astronomical like Brees, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, the Ravens are investing in both Flacco’s sterling postseason track record, as well Flacco’s bright future.
In a league driven by quarterbacks, the 28-year-old Flacco is just entering his prime. He is the only quarterback to have won a playoff game in each of his first five seasons, owns the record for most road playoff wins in NFL history and is coming off one of the best postseasons ever by a quarterback, culminating with a Super Bowl MVP trophy.
Flacco’s durability is another area where he has been unmatched, as he hasn’t missed a game in his five seasons. For a franchise that used 15 different starting quarterbacks in the 12 seasons prior to Flacco’s arrival, Flacco’s durability and steadiness have been paramount for the Ravens’ recent success.
Admittedly, Flacco isn’t the most talented quarterback in the league, and his regular season numbers last season were anything but impressive, so it’s hard to justify his record-breaking contract in that context. However, Flacco elevated his game after offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was fired late in the regular season, and the rest is history.
With Manning and Brady approaching the twilight of their respective careers, the AFC could become Flacco’s conference as he enters just his sixth season.
The Ravens’ offense appears primed for years of success with a solid offensive line, potent rushing attack and quality pass-catchers. Locking up their quarterback for an extended period of time was the final piece in assuring this offense will be formidable for years to come.
Considering how much the Ravens’ defense struggled last season, and the fact that Ray Lewis, the face of the franchise, has retired, Flacco is the new face of the franchise. Flacco’s steady and improving play over the years earned him respectability within the Ravens’ organization, while his postseason numbers earned him respect around the league.
However, more than anything, the Ravens are paying Flacco such an exorbitant amount because his future remains blindingly bright. His achievements in just five seasons are about as good as it gets for a quarterback. If Flacco continues to evolve and can deliver another Lombardi Trophy to the city of Baltimore, the monstrous deal will be worth every cent.