The Baltimore Ravens made a bold move before free agency. The Ravens signed Flacco to a new three-year contract extension on Wednesday. The extension is worth $66.4 million and includes $44 million ($40 million signing bonus and $4 million base in 2016) in guaranteed money. Flacco’s salary cap hit drops from $28.55 million to $22.55 in 2016, giving the team an additional $6 million of room.
The deal was a perfect match for the Ravens and Flacco. Baltimore now has more room to address the needs on their roster and Flacco could benefit from the improvements made around him. The Ravens aren’t looking to rebuild, but there are issues that will be addressed through the draft and possibly the free agent market.
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is pleased to have Flacco in Purple and Black. His praise for the signal-caller was a telling testimony of his confidence. Newsome shared his thoughts about Flacco via the Baltimore Sun.
“Joe’s our quarterback, and I’m proud to be able to say that. I think everybody in this organization is,” Newsome explained. “I stated before, teams struggle with the quarterback position, with Philly signing Bradford and Washington having to put the franchise tag on Cousins. They don’t have the resume that Joe has, and for us to be moving forward with a guy that’s got eight years and won a Super Bowl and been in three AFC championship games, it speaks volumes.”
Flacco’s contract numbers were modest, by veteran franchise quarterback standards, over the first three years of the deal. But his base salary was due to rise to $18 million this year and the salary cap charge to over $28 million. That salary cap figure would have been the third-highest in the NFL, behind only New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees ($30 million) and Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh ($28.6 million).
According to the NFL Network, when Flacco signed a huge contract after the Ravens’ Super Bowl win over the 49ers in 2013, the deal was back-loaded against the salary cap in a manner that all but demanded renegotiation after the 2015 season. The new deal comes as no surprise.
Flacco had his season cut short last year, suffering a torn ACL in a Week 11 win against the Rams. He had surgery in December, and is expected to be ready for the start of the 2016 season.
With a deal in place for Flacco, the Ravens can fully focus on getting things finalized with a player who helps take care of the quarterback. Standout guard Kelechi Osemele is an impending free agent who will command big dollars.
The Ravens understand how hard it is to gain stability at the game’s most important position. From the franchise’s first year of existence in 1996 to 2007, Baltimore went through 15 quarterbacks. Getting Flacco signed and back on the field will ease the stress over that position.
Flacco said the sides worked out the three-year extension quicker than he anticipated, and the deal was essentially completed earlier in the week. But he chose to think about it before officially agreeing to the contract Wednesday.
Flacco is thrilled about the deal and is anxious to test his surgically repaired ACL.
“I can’t wait to get back out there on the field after going through all of this and seeing how much work it takes to get back out there and feel 100 percent. And I can’t wait until September comes rolling around and we’re back out there battling again.”
Becoming one of the highest-paid players in NFL history doesn’t seem to be affecting Flacco. He claims his focus will be on getting ready for the season and nothing more.
“I’m as happy as can be. I’m not going to think about this another day past today.”
[Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]