Joe Flacco heaves a pass against San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII, Feb. 3.
He led an aging Baltimore Ravens team to a 10-6 regular season, was the hero behind two comebacks during the postseason and eventually won the Super Bowl.
Joe Flacco’s stupendous postseason heroics left Baltimore no choice but to hand its franchise quarterback more money than Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady or any other distinguished quarterback in the game today.
It’s definitely not sunk in, but it’s not really a big deal. Our goal is to win the Super Bowl—that’s always be one of my goals. It’s never necessarily been a goal of mine to get paid like this. It comes with the job. It was never necessarily about the money and all that, but it was definitely about earning that respect and feeling like I was respected around here.
No longer will Flacco look to gain respect from his peers. That time is long gone. Now, it’s time for Flacco to cement that respect in the back of his mind.
Flacco is no longer considered a good quarterback. He’s an elite one, and his stats back that assertion.
According to ESPN.com, Flacco's 63 combined regular-season and postseason wins are the most by a starting quarterback in the first five seasons during the Super Bowl era. And according to The Baltimore Sun, Flacco is the first quarterback to win a playoff game in his first five seasons since the 1970 merger, and his 27 road wins are the most by a starting quarterback in his first five years.
To say Flacco isn’t worthy of such a monumental contract would be downright foolish, and arrogant.
He’s certainly worth every penny.
However, as with every massive contract handed out in professional sports, Flacco must live up to it.
“Listen, winning the Super Bowl, winning the Super Bowl MVP doesn’t make me as valuable as I am. I think I bring to the table what I bring to the table,” Flacco said, courtesy of The Baltimore Sun. “I think I’m an asset to this team and I’m worth what I’m worth.”
The time for Flacco to defend his mega-deal starts next season and extends through the next six.
Look, Flacco is a proven playoff quarterback. There’s no question.
His nine postseason wins ties him with Brady for the most among any quarterback during his first five seasons in the league. He threw 11 touchdowns to no interceptions last postseason, a league high.
When the spotlight is on him, Flacco shines. During the regular season, however, Flacco needs to improve in order to live up to the hype surrounding him.
Flacco has never posted eye-popping numbers during any of his five regular seasons in the NFL. In terms of production, Flacco has been OK.
Last season, 11 starting quarterbacks had a higher passer rating than Flacco’s 87.7, including rookies Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, Tony Romo and Philip Rivers. Fourteen starting quarterbacks threw more touchdowns than Flacco’s 22, including rookies Russell Wilson and Luck, Romo, Josh Freeman, Andy Dalton, Rivers and Ryan Fitzpatrick.
According to ESPN.com, Flacco had a total quarterback rating of 46.8 during the regular season in 2012. That ranked 25th in the league, leaving a bundle of quarterbacks who posted higher total quarterback ratings, including Griffen III, Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Wilson, Luck, Romo, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Christian Ponder, Freeman, Ryan Tannehill, Jay Cutler, Sam Bradford, Dalton, Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker, just to name a few.
In terms of Flacco’s career, the regular season matters little. Does Flacco struggle during the 16-game schedule sometimes? Yes. Has he had a rough stretch of games here and there? Yes, he’s human, he makes mistakes. In the end, Flacco finds a way to get the job done.
But his regular-season performances must live up to his enormous contract.
Flacco is now an elite quarterback—the wealthiest of them all. There’s no Plan B for him. His new contract represents both a reward and a challenge, and Flacco must take it head on.