Flacco Poised To Become The Face Of The Ravens’ Franchise
Jeremiah Short, The Current Voice
As the Baltimore Ravens prepare for life without Ray Lewis, tough decisions loom for the Super Bowl champions.
Key contributors: Ed Reed, Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Cary Williams, Bryant McKinnie and Joe Flacco are free agents. And they can’t re-sign them all.
Over the past week, the latter of those players has dominated the headlines: Flacco.
The fifth-year pro threw 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the playoffs. He matched numbers achieved by another Joe–Joe Montana, who accomplished the feat in 1989.
After playing at such a high level in the postseason, Flacco and Joe Linta, Flacco’s agent, know they can leverage his strong play into a massive new contract.
Flacco didn’t waste time bringing up his contract status, either. Shortly after the Ravens Super Bowl victory, he stated: “We just won a Super Bowl, so it’s the last thing that I’m concerned about. But [Steve]Bisciotti did let me know that if the day came I could go beat on his desk and really put it to him, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
The Ravens can’t make any other moves until they reach an agreement with Flacco. Ozzie Newsome, who has been the Ravens’ general manager since 2002, understands getting the 28-year old signal caller locked up takes precedence.
“We’re looking to get a fair deal done with Joe,” Newsome said. “If we’re able to get a deal done, it will allow us to be able to participate more in the market if we so choose. But we understand what the priority is.”
No one questions if Flacco is the Ravens number-one priority. They question whether he is an elite quarterback. And if he’s worth the potential 100 million dollars a new deal might garner.
Is Flacco elite?
When discussing elite quarterbacks, the usual names–Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning–get thrown around. In addition to those players, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning are considered elite, as well.
Why doesn’t Flacco get mentioned in the same breath? Your guess is as good as mine. His numbers support inclusion with the best.
A playoff victory every year in his career. Check. Nine postseason wins in his first five years–tied with Brady. Check. Seven road or neutral site wins in the playoffs–tied with Eli Manning. Check. And a Super Bowl M.V.P. CHECK, CHECK!!
In his first five years as a starter, Flacco has put up stats that compare favorably to Brady’s in the same time span.
During his first five seasons, Brady averaged 24.6 passing touchdowns, 13.2 interceptions and 3,605.8 passing yards. Flacco averaged 20.4 passing touchdowns, 11.2 interceptions and 3,526.6 passing yards. Brady tossed more touchdowns, but Flacco was more efficient.
Does this mean that Flacco is on par with Brady? No. But it does mean that he has the potential to get there.
“Cool Joe” does have his flaws. He has disappeared in some big games and is erratic at times. And from a marketability stand point, Flacco doesn’t have the million-dollar looks or personality.
All the elite quarterbacks have their negatives.
Tom Brady: Brady’s place in the pantheon of great quarterbacks has been cemented. But, when the eight-time pro bowler gets pressured, he folds.
Peyton Manning: Like Brady, Manning is one the top quarterbacks of all time. But, he has poor football instincts and compensates by studying film like a maniac.
Eli Manning: The younger Manning rises to the occasion in the clutch and has two Super Bowl rings. He isn’t the most entertaining to listen to in an interview, though. I would rather watch grass grow than listen to him talk.
Ben Roethlisberger: No one can question Big Ben’s toughness, and he has led the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Super Bowl three times–winning two. But, he’s had off-the-field issues that have brought a black eye to the Steelers’ organization.
Drew Brees: The former Purdue Boilermaker puts up monster numbers and stands as one best leaders in the NFL. But, he is small in stature, which forces Sean Payton to get creative finding passing lanes for him.
Aaron Rodgers: The 2011 NFL M.V.P. has all the tools on the field. But he has displayed arrogance off of it.
What do these quarterbacks have in common with Flacco? They “put a ring on it.” On their teammate’s fingers, that is.
Flacco’s still not worth 100 million dollars.
Why? Because the experts haven’t given him the elite stamp. Contract negotiations are never about your actual worth. …They are dictated by your market value. Ask the Buffalo Bills about the larceny Mario Williams pulled on them.
Is Flacco worth 100 million dollars? Probably not.
Should this stop the Ravens from giving it to him? Absolutely not.
They have no choice in the matter. Ray Lewis, the Ravens’ franchise player since they moved to Baltimore from Cleveland, has retired. And they need a new face of the franchise. Flacco is the perfect choice to take that mantle.
100 million dollars is the only thing standing in the way.
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