As we all know, the Baltimore Ravens hoisted the Lombardi at the end of this past season. In typical Ravens fashion, the front office wasted little time retooling the roster. Their biggest off-season move was locking up their QB of the present and future Joe Flacco and making him the highest paid player in NFL history. The 120.6 million dollar contract with 52 million in guarantees has been met with much disdain. Lost in all the negative words spewed by bitter fans and sports experts, is the evidence that Flacco still has room to grow as a NFL signal caller. Casual fans point to the playoffs as the beginning of Flacco’s improbable hot streak. Few would look at his week 16 performance against the New York Giants and see how the then interim offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell bounced back masterfully from the week 15 debacle. Caldwell finally took the training wheels off of Joe, utilizing his big arm and targeting mismatches in the Giants secondary (sorry Corey Webster). That game showed what kind of QB Joe is capable of being. He built on that in the playoffs and with a full off-season working with Jim Caldwell, the Ravens offense should be able to overcome the departure of Anquan Boldin and continue to put up big numbers.
Negotiations are all about leverage and in this case Flacco and his contract advisor had all of it. Flacco put together a record tying postseason, had been in the playoffs every season of his career, had no injury concerns, and brought a championship to Baltimore, while winning Super Bowl MVP. NFL contracts also involve projecting how a player is going to perform in the future and I think its clear that he will perform well. Teams have to respect his big arm, which will open up the field, making Rice, Pierce, and Leach a force in the ground game. He has speedsters on the outside and a crafty tight end he has great chemistry with and plenty of prospects to fill in the slot role. The pieces are in place for Flacco to play well, and I would strongly suggest you wait until after this upcoming season to make a decision on how deserving he is of the contract he signed. Its also worth noting that this deal will most likely be revisited in three years, as no team would take an almost 30 million dollar cap hit on one player, the result of his pro rated bonus money inflating that number. Also, with other field generals deserving new contracts, this contract is sure to be topped. Tony Romo has already topped his guaranteed dollars as he signed an extension worth 106 million, with 55 million in guaranteed dollars.