By now, you may be aware of the team's franchise-tag predicament. For those of you who aren't: Here's a quick look at both franchise-tag scenarios, courtesy of BaltimoreRavens.com's Garrett Downing:
- Exclusive Tag (Carries about $20 million cap hit): Flacco would be frozen to the Ravens and no other team would be able to sign him. This guarantees he’s back in Baltimore.
- Non-Exclusive Tag (Carries about $14.6 million cap hit): Another team would be able to sign Flacco if they give the Ravens two first-round picks, and then present an offer to Flacco that the Ravens can’t match. Flacco would have the choice to sign with the team offering a bigger salary.
Both of these options presents certain pitfalls.
The non-exclusive tag is the most obvious of the two, since there's a chance the Ravens could actually lose Flacco to another team in 2013. Should this happen, Baltimore would have two first-round picks in its pocket. Given the fact that the cupboard is rather bare for franchise quarterbacks these days, that's hardly a consolation prize.
The pitfalls of tagging Flacco with the exclusive tag are a bit more subtle, but just as destructive to Baltimore's future.
As SI.com's Peter King wrote on Monday:
Exclusive-tagging Flacco would likely, but not certainly, mean the losses of Ellerbe and Kruger and the iconic Ed Reed, and maybe even Anquan Boldin if he won't lower his $7.5 million salary for 2013.
Both scenarios wold be disastrous to Baltimore's chances of repeating as world champs. It's going to be tough enough to get back to the promised land without fiery prophet and linebacker Ray Lewis leading the charge.
Without Flacco, Baltimore won't get back.
With Flacco, but without Reed, Boldin and Kruger, the team will be hard-pressed to get into the playoffs in the competitive AFC North—let alone win Super Bowl XLVIII.
If the Ravens and Flacco's agent can somehow find common ground long enough to strike up a long-term deal that gives Baltimore cap flexibility this upcoming season, the Ravens should be able to retain Boldin at his current rate, re-sign Kruger and possibly re-sign Reed.
All three players played a critical role in getting Baltimore its championship this past season. It would cripple the Ravens to lose even two of the three.
The Ravens are in a tough spot, according to the Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson, "the Ravens are expected to be as much as $5 million over the salary cap before even potentially using the franchise tag on Flacco."
Signing Flacco to a long-term deal is the only logical solution to the team's tricky offseason predicament. If Baltimore can hash out a deal before March 4, the Ravens will be in business to make another Super Bowl run.
If not...well, it's not going to be pretty.
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