The looming contract talks between the Ravens and quarterback Joe Flacco entail various levels of leverage and nuance.
One of the most obvious realities of getting a long-term deal finalized before March 4 is that doing so would allow the Ravens to apply the franchise tag to someone other than Flacco. Which gives Flacco an advantage when it comes to finding a solution.
The Ravens have countered that point by taking the public position that they won’t use the franchise tag on any other player.
“We get a deal done with Joe, we will not franchise another player,” G.M. Ozzie Newsome said recently. “We will not do that.”
And then he turned to owner Steve Bisciotti and said, “You are OK with that, right?”
And then Bisciotti took a page from a fellow, but fictitious, Italian and said, “Absolutely.”
Though it may indeed be the truth, the comment has to be interpreted in light of the broader context. If the Ravens won’t be using the franchise tag on cornerback Cary Williams or linebacker Dannell Ellerbe or linebacker Paul Kruger or safety Ed Reed, the Ravens have no added incentive to do a long-term deal with Flacco.
The far bigger incentive for the Ravens is the lower cap number that comes from a long-term contract with Flacco. The non-exclusive franchise tag will tie up $14.6 million, and the exclusive tag will account for roughly $20 million. Signing Flacco to a long-term deal will then give the Ravens the cap space to do other deals, regardless of whether they’ll be using the franchise tag to hold another free agent in place until his deal is done.