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2. The Ravens are confident they will get a deal done with Joe Flacco this offseason.
Thursday's season-ending news conference began and ended with questions about quarterback Joe Flacco and nearly 10 minutes of conversation centered on the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XLVII. If you haven't heard, Flacco's rookie contract is set to expire and his future will be one of the biggest stories of the NFL's offseason. But despite all the talk from the team's top decision makers Thursday -- and from his agent, Joe Linta, seemingly since the moment that Flacco threw his third touchdown pass in the first half of the Super Bowl -- we haven't really learned much about the Flacco contract stalemate. The talks are still where they left off before the season -- and that might not necessarily be a bad thing.
"That's what we wanted. We wanted to see him do this and he did, and like I said, this is history," owner Steve Bisciotti told reporters at the Under Armour Performance Center. "I have faith that it didn't set us back in our negotiations. We offered him a top-five contract last year. And we will be back at the negotiating table and it was pretty close last year. And so we'll be right back at the table. I don't see us winning the Super Bowl making the negotiation more difficult than it would have been had we gone out in the first round of the playoffs. That might have been more difficult. We both know we want each other. It's up to Ozzie and Joe Linta to work that out and Joe and I can go golf or whatever. I don't negotiate with Joe."
Linta told The Baltimore Sun this week that he feels his client, who tied Joe Montana's NFL record for touchdown passes in a single postseason with 11, deserves to be the NFL's highest-paid quarterback. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees earns $20 million a year and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning makes $18 million. Those two have more individual accolades than Flacco, who has never been selected to a Pro Bowl, but he now has as many championships as each of them and his nine career playoff wins are as many as Manning has and five more than Brees.
Linta's argument is that Flacco, who will have the franchise tag slapped on him if a deal isn't reached by March 4, is a winner who is entering his prime -- and there's no denying that claim -- but it's a complicated negotiation when you juxtapose Flacco's remarkable postseason success with his sporadic play during the regular season. From the periphery, Flacco seems like a guy who would leave a little money on the table to stay near his family in New Jersey and help the Ravens continue to build a contending team around him. His agent's big talk suggests otherwise, though, and who are we to suggest that Flacco take less than what he is worth?
"We're looking to get a fair deal with Joe. And yes, the franchise [tag] number does consume a lot of cap room. But we're looking for a fair deal, and Joe Linta's looking for a fair deal," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "And if we're able to get a deal done [before the start of free agency], it will allow us to be able to participate more in the market if we so choose. But we understand what the priority is."
That's keeping their quarterback under center and under contract for at least five more years. Talks may have shut down during the season, but there is plenty of hope that a deal will get done before training camp.
February 5, 2013