It’s looking more and more likely that Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco won’t have a new contract when the 2012 season begins.
After Flacco’s impressive preseason showing against the Jaguars in the all-important (or, more accurately, less-unimportant) third preseason game, in which Flacco completed 27 of 36 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns (plus one interception), we asked agent Joe Linta if anything is happening on the contract front.
“Not really,” Linta said, adding that “Joe is happy playing it out.”
That doesn’t mean the door on any further negotiations is closed. Linta reiterated that there will be no shutdown in talks at any point. Last year, Saints quarterback Drew Brees pulled the plug on negotiations because he regarded the ongoing inability to work out a contract as a distraction; Linta and Flacco don’t feel the same way.
The challenge will be to gauge Flacco’s value. Linta has said Flacco deserves top-five money, if the deciding factor is wins and losses. (If all the guys whose agents, coaches, or teammates thought should be in the top five were in the top five, there would be 15 guys in the top five.) At the other extreme, some regard Flacco as a modern-day Trent Dilfer, whose wins come not from the quarterback’s arm but from his cast of characters, primarily on defense.
The truth lies somewhere in between. Flacco’s career stats compare favorably to the other quarterback who entered the league via the first round of the 2008 draft — Matt Ryan. And Flacco has five postseason wins in four years; Ryan is 0-3, capped with a zero-point offensive effort against the Giants in January.
By not doing a deal now, the Ravens risk Flacco stepping up in a way that forces them to give him a lot more than they’d like to give him now, especially after Brees set the bar even higher with his new contract. Maybe for the Ravens that would be a good problem to have.