While the Baltimore Ravens’ defense was being pilfered away during the first week of free agency, it was easy to blame the monstrous Joe Flacco deal as a reason for the loss of key defenders.
However, as the dust has all but settled on free agency for now, the Ravens have to really like where they stand.
First and foremost, they locked up Flacco to a long-term deal which stabilized their offense for years to come. With a solid offensive line and two quality running backs, locking up Flacco was paramount for the Ravens and their offense.
After a mass exodus of unrestricted free agents on defense, Ozzie Newsome showed the resolve of a top tier general manager as he brought in Elvis Dumervil and Michael Huff. Most talking heads wrote the Ravens off after losing the likes of Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, Ed Reed and Cary Williams.
The signings of Dumervil and Huff helped to quiet down those who spoke of the demise of the reigning champs, but many still look at the Flacco contract as the straw that broke the camel’s back.
On the surface, it seems the Ravens overpaid Flacco — the $120.6 million deal is truly eye-popping. However, the NFL is a business and only $51 million is guaranteed and Flacco is just entering his prime.
Another main reason that the Flacco deal is looking even better these days is the contract the Dallas Cowboys gave Tony Romo.
Romo has put up some great numbers over large spans of his career, as his three Pro Bowl selections would indicate. However, unlike Flacco, Romo has a propensity to shrink during the big games.
While Flacco has set an NFL record by winning at least one playoff game in each of his five seasons, Romo is 1-3 in the playoffs for his entire career. Flacco owns the NFL record with six road playoff wins, while Romo has yet to win a road playoff game and is still remembered for botching a snap in Seattle in 2007 that potentially cost the Cowboys the win.
Flash forward to today and Flacco is coming off a legendary postseason performance, while Romo and the Cowboys have missed the playoffs three straight seasons. Flacco is 28 years old and entering his prime, while Romo will be 33 in just a couple of weeks and his best football may be behind him.
Despite Romo getting longer in the tooth and not having made the Pro Bowl in three years, the Cowboys gave Romo a six-year extension worth $108 million, $55 million of which is guaranteed.
Compare Romo’s guaranteed money to Flacco’s $51 million and the Flacco deal looks even better. As Flacco ascends up the quarterback list in the AFC and now has a Super Bowl ring, Romo and the Cowboys continue to simply tread water in the NFC.
So after a period of much uncertainty for the Ravens after the Flacco mega-deal and losing key free agents, Newsome has again put the Ravens in situation to succeed. The way he structured the Flacco deal enabled him to sign the likes of Dumervil and Huff to stabilize the defense. Newsome and the Ravens also have 12 picks in the upcoming draft, so there is also more help on the way in that regard.
Thus, after many people wanted to write off the Ravens and cited Flacco’s deal as the main reason for the Ravens’ perceived demise, things now look great for the defending champs. While the Cowboys gave more guaranteed money to a quarterback who has won basically nothing in his career, the Ravens locked up their signal caller who has proven more and has a brighter future.
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