According to CNBC's Brian Shactman:
When asked whether Flacco should be the highest paid quarterback in the NFL, [Joe] Linta (Flacco's agent) simply said: "YES." That would mean more than the $18 million Denver paid Peyton Manning this season, or the $20 million a year that Drew Brees is averaging in New Orleans.
On the surface, this seems like an impossible goal.
The Baltimore Ravens are in a tight spot financially heading into the 2013 season. The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson recently reported that the team will be nearly $5 million over the cap before any attempt to sign Flacco to a franchise tag or a long-term contract.
CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora recently said, via Will Brinson, "Yeah they're going to have to franchise him at $14.6 million and then that buys them until July to get him on a long-term deal done."
Baltimore risks losing Flacco to another team should it sign him to this nonexclusive franchise tender. Granted, the team that wants him would have to cough up two first-round picks to do so, but it's a possibility.
Thus, it will behoove the Ravens to work out a deal with Flacco before he becomes fair game this upcoming season.
But is this something that's even possible, considering the team's financial woes?
In a word, yes.
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio recently laid out a scenario that would work for both sides, using Drew Brees' monster contract as his template:
Flacco would get a $40 million signing bonus, a fully-guaranteed base salary of $5 million in 2013, and base salaries of $10 million in 2014, $13 million in 2015, $15 million in 2016, and $18 million in 2017.
Under the rules of signing-bonus proration, $8 million would be applied to each year’s salary cap. That would result in a cap number of $13 million in 2013, $18 million in 2014, $21 million in 2015, $23 million in 2016, and $26 million in 2017.
This would work out to a five-year contract worth $101 million—$1 million more than Brees' contract. Florio continues to talk about potential nuances of the deal that would need to be hammered out, but it's nothing Baltimore and his agent couldn't handle.
It may not seem like much of a big deal to earn just $1 million more than Brees, but it would make him the NFL's highest-paid quarterback, if by only the slightest margin.
Should Joe Flacco be the NFL's highest-paid quarterback?
The contract would allow the Ravens to shift the majority of the money to the latter portion of the deal, during which time the team could potentially extend Flacco's contract, much like what Tom Brady just did with the New England Patriots (per Peter King of Sports Illustrated).
He'd be getting the guaranteed money he so desires, and much of it right up front, and the team would be able to keep him happy while softening the blow to its salary cap for the next couple of years.
This deal could work, but it remains to be seen if the Ravens are willing to give Flacco what he wants. Lord knows, if Baltimore won't do it, another team will.
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