For much of this season, there’s been discussion about Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco’s pending free agency and what kind of contract he’ll work out to remain in Baltimore.
The discussions have always been framed around the offense, but the decision will have a big impact on the defense as well. If the Ravens use the franchise tag on Flacco, it will hinder their ability to hold onto linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe after this season. Both players played higher profile roles this season because of injuries and both of them did well enough that it would be difficult for the Ravens to lose them from a defense that may be saying goodbye to both Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.
“Everything that I could possibly want is here, but it’s a business,” Ellerbe said, via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. “It’s not up to me. If it was up to me, I’d be here.”
With Lewis retiring and Jameel McClain coming off an injury, keeping Ellerbe from leaving seems like something the Ravens have to do but his play might lead to bigger offers from other teams. Kruger expressed similar sentiments, but pass rushers always draw a premium on the open market. That’s why Kruger would likely be a franchise tag candidate if the Ravens don’t use it on Flacco.
The Ravens have more pressing matters to deal with than contracts right now, but it won’t be long after the end of their season before they turn their attention to continuing a run that’s sent them to the playoffs in each of their last five seasons.