Three years ago, the Ravens and agent Joe Linta worked out a record-setting six-year deal that allowed the team to keep quarterback Joe Flacco without using the exclusive franchise tag on him. But with $62 million of $120.6 million already paid out to Flacco, it’s now time for the cap numbers to skyrocket.
From $6.8 million in 2013 to $14.8 million in 2014 to $14.55 million in 2015, Flacco’s cap number now becomes $28.55 million in 2016. And it gets no better in 2017, when the cap number moves to $31.15 million. (For 2018, the cap number drops, relatively speaking, to $24.75 million.)
So the Ravens and Linta will likely do something about it, sooner than later. Linta tells PFT that he expects to meet with the Ravens this weekend in Indianapolis.
A so-called simple restructuring would only go so far. If, for example, $17 million of Flacco’s $18 million salary for 2016 is converted to a signing bonus, the cap number would drop by $11.33 million in 2018 — but that would drive next year’s number to nearly $36.5 million.
At some point, the Ravens will need to extend Flacco’s contract, pushing cap dollars from the current deal beyond 2018. The problem is that the $62 million already paid to Flacco eventually has to hit the cap; so far, only $36.15 million has been counted. So that’s nearly $26 million on money already paid to Flacco that will be absorbed by current and future cap years.
With $58.6 million due to be paid over the next three years, this means that the Ravens need to figure out how to manage nearly $85 million in cap space from now through 2018.
Three years ago, Flacco had all the leverage — and he used every bit of it. This time around, Flacco has all the leverage again. Even though he’s recovering from a torn ACL, Flacco can simply say, “I’m fine with the deal we signed,” forcing the Ravens to present him with an alternative that he finds equally palatable.
What Flacco and Linta do with the leverage is one of the biggest questions of the current offseason. Eventually, the Ravens could simply decide to carry the number and figure out another way to comply with the NFL’s annual spending limit.