With Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco entering the final year of his rookie contract, discussions will continue without any acrimony or threats of a holdout.
“All the conversations have been productive,” agent Joe Linta told Albert Breer of NFL Network. “We’ve gone back-and-forth on proposals. And the biggest thing I can tell you is that Joe’s so focused on winning that all of this isn’t something he’s paying a lot of attention to, he’s got such a chip on his shoulder about winning now. The most telling quote from Joe I can give you is that he told me, ‘I’ve got a contract, and I’m gonna honor it.’ He’s part of a rare breed in this day and age.”
Before we begin preparing the paperwork to nominate Joseph of Audobon for canonization, let’s keep in mind that plenty of elite quarterbacks have played out their contracts. Drew Brees has done it, twice. Peyton Manning has done it, twice.
The point is that Flacco isn’t preoccupied with the situation, and that he’s not worried about it becoming a distraction. As a result, a new deal can come at any time.
“Pat [Moriarty] can call me today, Halloween, Thanksgiving, whenever, and Joe gives me the leeway to talk whenever,” Linta said “We’re not creating any artificial deadlines. I do know once he’s on the field, his focus is there, but we can keep working.”
That’s a stark contrast to Brees, who eventually pulled the plug on talks during the 2011 regular season.
“The only distraction for Joe would be me calling him,” Linta said. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve rarely seen a guy so single-minded.”
It’s the right approach. Because if Flacco has to enter the season without a new deal, each strong performance will give him more leverage. And weak performances will swing the pendulum back to the Ravens. If a new deal ultimately isn’t done, the Ravens will have to decide whether to offer him a one-year deal worth the average of the five highest-paid quarterbacks, or whether to let him hit the open market.
Playing well and winning will make the Ravens more likely to pay him now. And it will make them more likely to use the franchise tag later, which for Flacco would result in a salary much higher than what he’d average on any new deal he could negotiate before then.