The Ravens ultimately may have been dumb not to get quarterback Joe Flacco signed last year, but it’s not as if they didn’t try.
In an excerpt from his book regarding the team’s second Super Bowl run, Nestor Aparicio of WNST in Baltimore details a 45-minute, face-to-face meeting between Flacco and owner Steve Bisciotti aimed at getting the deal done before the 2012 season.
“I had never, ever – not for one minute – even spoken to Joe about the contract,” Bisciotti said. “That was for Pat [Moriarty] and Ozzie [Newsome] to do, but I wanted to take one more swing at it and try to understand the situation.”
Bisciotti’s final offer included a rolling $1 million bonus if Flacco won a Super Bowl at any time during the life of the deal. It moved to $2 million per year if he won a second one. Flacco wasn’t interested.
“There are two things here that I don’t understand,” Bisciotti said to Flacco, per Aparicio. “I don’t understand why you’re walking away from this deal? As maligned as you are in the press and as little faith as so many pundits have in you, we’re offering you a $90 million deal and you can go wave that in their face and say, ‘F**k you guys! See, the Ravens DO believe in me!'”
Flacco didn’t flinch. “I really don’t care about my criticis,” he said. Flacco then explained that agent Joe Linta wanted a contract free from incentive clauses.
“I’m offering you a better deal than the one you’re asking me for if you’re planning on winning the Super Bowl,” Bisciotti said. Flacco still didn’t want it.
“I figured if he’s fine with it then I should be fine with it,” Bisciotti said. “I wanted it behind both of us. I guess I didn’t really understand how different a guy he was. I told him, ‘You are a different cat, man!'”
The Ravens ultimately lost the gamble, but they won a Super Bowl. For Flacco, the worst-case scenario included neither money nor a championship.
“My agent said to me, ‘Think about the worse possible situation and if you’re OK with that then hold your position,” Flacco said. “If I got hurt, I got hurt. That’s the nature of the game. I was willing to look in the mirror and live with that.”
So Flacco went all in, making his own final offer to the boss.
“I told him, ‘You should give me four or five million more now because if I win the Super Bowl’ – and I did say ‘if’ — ‘then it’s gonna cost you $20 million.'”
He did. And it did. In hindsight, though, it wasn’t dumb for the Ravens to take the risk. (It was far dumber, in our view, to publicly call them dumb.) Still, winning the Super Bowl became the equivalent of buying a house that Bisciotti will be paying for via Flacco’s contract for years to come.
But think of it this way: Flacco still had the Ravens over a barrel even if the 49ers had decided not to throw the ball three times inside the five with the game on the line. Winning the Super Bowl only underscored the reality that other teams (like the Browns) would have gladly chased Flacco and given up two first-round picks to get him under the non-exclusive franchise tag. With the exclusive version putting the Ravens on a year-to-year path that quickly would have gotten ridiculously expensive, the Ravens had no good alternatives. They had to give Flacco market value.
In other words, Bisciotti would have been paying for the house without even getting it. Now, that would have been dumb.