If the Ravens want to make Joe Flacco the highest paid quarterback in the NFL, and if Flacco is satisfied to barely clear the bar set last year by Saints quarterback Drew Brees, there’s a quick and easy way to get this contract done.
Using Brees’ 2012 contract as the starting point, Flacco would get a $40 million signing bonus, a fully-guaranteed base salary of $5 million in 2013, and base salaries of $10 million in 2014, $13 million in 2015, $15 million in 2016, and $18 million in 2017.
Under the rules of signing-bonus proration, $8 million would be applied to each year’s salary cap. That would result in a cap number of $13 million in 2013, $18 million in 2014, $21 million in 2015, $23 million in 2016, and $26 million in 2017.
It equates to a five-year payout of $101 million — $1 million better than Brees and, for now, making Flacco the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL.
The two sides would have to decide whether and to what extent the money due beyond 2013 would be guaranteed, for injury only or fully. Last year, Brees received $40 million in the first year, with $20 million guaranteed for injury only in future years. (The injury guarantees eventually convert to full guarantees.)
The cap number in the final year would be a potential problem for the Ravens, since Flacco presumably would have one more long-term contract left before retirement. Specifically, the $26 million cap number in 2017 would translate to a franchise tag of $31.2 million in 2018. Thus, it would make more sense for the Ravens to tack on a sixth year at a base salary of, say, $21 million.
This would keep the average north of $20 million per year and it would give the Ravens a more manageable franchise number of $25.2 million for 2019.
Is it really that simple? Yes, it is. Which means that it likely won’t happen this way.
Even though it could be worked out in a matter of hours. Or, if both sides are truly motivated, a matter of minutes.