According to ESPN.com, Flacco will sign a six-year, $120.6 million deal on Monday.
In many ways, this is an odd move. When asking a casual NFL fan to guess who is the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL, names like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers will surely come up before Flacco’s.
Brady, Manning, Brees and Rodgers make up the top tier of NFL quarterbacks. They play in pass-heavy offenses and are given the freedom to call and change plays at the line of scrimmage.
All four players have put up gaudy stats for the bulk of their careers and won at least one Super Bowl.
Flacco can now be included in the list of active signal-callers with a Super Bowl ring, but the Ravens will need to make changes to their offense in order for their quarterback to be as productive as his counterparts.
Coming into the season, there was plenty of fanfare regarding the Ravens making frequent use of the no-huddle under then-offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. The plan was to let Flacco prove that he is ready to be an elite passer.
It certainly seemed to work early on when the Ravens beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 44-13, in the season opener, but the team went away from the no-huddle soon after, ultimately leading to Cameron’s midseason firing.
Jim Caldwell stepped in and let Flacco loose in the no-huddle much more frequently than his predecessor, and it paid off in the form of a Super Bowl ring.
Now, the Ravens have a blueprint to follow going forward. The team will first need to continue providing Flacco with the necessary talent at the skill positions to lead a high-flying passing attack.
Right now, a receiving corps of Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones—along with talented tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson—should be more than enough for Flacco to work with. But with injuries, age and contract situations, the team will need to ensure it does not send its franchise cornerstone into a season without the necessary help.
But the biggest adjustment will simply be continuing what the team did under Caldwell at the end of the season.
Flacco has never passed for more than 4,000 yards in a season, he has never thrown more than 25 touchdown passes and his career-high completion percentage is 63.1.
All that will have to change.
Ray Lewis’ retirement— and now Flacco’s new contract—marks the end of an era for Baltimore. Going forward, the team will no longer be characterized by its defense.
John Harbaugh and Caldwell must continue heaping more responsibility onto Flacco. He needs the ball in his hands more often and must be able to make his own calls in the no-huddle.
If the team gives him this opportunity, his numbers should rise sharply.
The days of Baltimore being known for its defense are over, and an era of balance is now underway. Flacco’s new contract demands that he continue his ascension into the ranks of the elite NFL quarterbacks, and the Ravens will provide him with an offensive scheme that allows him to do this.