"[Other GMs] dread the days when you don't have a QB and you have to go and get one," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said, via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. "We're fortunate we have one."
"The thing I've learned about Joe over the last eight years is no matter what you go through, you're going to get [his] best," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh added, via Luke Jones of WNST.net.
Caplan reported that the quarterback and team agreed on a three-year extension that will keep him in Baltimore until 2021, citing a source.
"At the end of the day, I want [Harbaugh] to be here for 20 years, and I want to be here for 20 years," Flacco said, via Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun.
CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora noted that the deal will save Baltimore around $6 million this season and over $13 million in the next two seasons. La Canfora also reported that the new deal will include quarterback records for bonus money, new money and "other metrics."
La Canfora reported that Flacco will receive a $40 million signing bonus. He added that the deal brings a total of $66.4 million in new money for Flacco, who will average just under $21 million per year for the life of the contract, with base salaries of $4 million, $6 million and $12 million.
Ravens writer Sarah Ellison showed Flacco displaying some humor over his new payday:
Sarah Ellison @sgellison
Best. Line. Ever. from @TeamFlacco. https://t.co/j26efsEnPd2016-3-2 19:00:34
Flacco was due an $18 million base salary for 2016, with an additional $40.6 million coming over the following two seasons, according to Spotrac.
The Ravens would have been saddled with a $28.55 million cap charge on Flacco in 2016, which would have risen to $31.15 million in 2017. That number was the third-highest in football and second among quarterbacks, behind only Drew Brees. Brees, Flacco and Ndamukong Suh are the only three players in the sport who had cap hits of more than $25 million in 2016.
Of course, none of this would be a problem if Flacco were performing like one of the best players in the sport, but he hasn't been. Flacco threw for 2,791 yards and 14 touchdowns against 12 interceptions before going down with a torn ACL and MCL 10 games into 2015.
"I feel like it's going very well," Flacco said of his knee rehab, via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. "I'm going to be back out there, and I'm going to be stronger than ever."
Flacco was completing a career-high percentage of his passes (64.4), but his underlying numbers were disconcerting. Flacco's QBR reached a career low, he ranked 26th in Football Outsiders' DVOA and Pro Football Focus gave him below-average marks across the board. The Ravens began the season 1-6 before finishing 5-11, which tied their worst mark since their inaugural season in 1996.
"It's just frustrating because you're not winning the game. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how it happens. It's frustrating," Flacco told reporters in October. "You go home and you think about it. You think about it in the locker room, on the plane, on the bus. It's just the nature of what we do."
Flacco's contract restructuring may open up enough money for Baltimore to add more weapons on the outside.
Wideout Steve Smith announced he'd be returning for at least one more season after going down seven games into the 2015 season, but he turns 37 in May and is coming off an Achilles tear. Kamar Aiken filled an underneath role admirably and looks like a long-term starter, which means the Ravens should focus mostly on finding a downfield threat.
Breshad Perriman, who Baltimore selected 26th overall in last year's draft, missed his entire rookie campaign due to a partially torn PCL, which casts doubt over whether the Ravens could count on him as a consistent contributor this coming season.
With running back Justin Forsett having also seen his season cut short due to a broken arm, there are plenty of reasons to expect the Ravens to regress positively to the mean in 2016. Flacco's willingness to free up some cap space for Baltimore should make that transition easier.
"I think this gives us the best chance to move forward and in the next five years to win another super bowl....or two or three," said a confident Flacco, via Patrick Claybon of NFL Network.