By structuring the deal the way they did, the Ravens are giving themselves every opportunity to lock up other key free agents and defend their title.
On paper the exorbitant total of the contract seems excessive for a quarterback who has never even made a Pro Bowl. However, when you delve into the terms of the contract, you can see the Ravens’ master plan to keep this team in tact as much as possible.
Of the $120.6 million, $52 million is guaranteed. Of the 14 players who have signed $100 million-plus deals, none of them have ever earned over $100 million, so it is unlikely Flacco will earn every cent of this deal.
More importantly, though, are the short-term specifications of the deal. Flacco will receive a $29 million signing bonus, but his cap hit this season will only be $6.8 million. Had the Ravens put the franchise tag on him, it would’ve been an astronomical $19.5 million cap hit, so it was a shrewd move on the team’s part.
Considering free agents like Paul Kruger, Cary Williams and Dannell Ellerbe are looking to cash in as they enter the prime of their respective careers, the way the Flacco deal is structured gives the Ravens a much better shot at retaining the services of those three free agents.
Then there is Ed Reed, also an unrestricted free agent. Reed has been a staple on the Ravens’ defense since 2002 and he wants to finish his career as a Raven. Reed will have to be flexible if he wants to stay in Baltimore because the Ravens have plenty of key pieces to lock up too.
Throw in remaining free agents like Dennis Pitta, Arthur Jones, Albert McClellan and Bryant McKinnie and the Ravens will need every available dollar to keep their squad in tact.
Thus, by signing Flacco to a flexible and creative long-term deal, the Ravens give themselves a chance to lock up other key cogs. Flacco may not be worth $120.6 million, but his contract makes sense on multiple levels and gives the Ravens their best shot at defending their title.
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