Ravens confident Joe Flacco will remain their quarterback past the Super Bowl
Flacco and Baltimore were unable to reach a deal before this season, but his agent and the Ravens' management expressed little worry about negotiations after the Super Bowl.
NEW ORLEANS — When Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome walks through the locker room past Joe Flacco, other players start up a chant: "Pay the man, pay the man."
The Ravens' owner, Steve Bisciotti, made clear Thursday he intends to do just that.
Bisciotti said that the two sides were "real close" to a deal when the talks were tabled just before the start of this season, and he's "very comfortable" that an agreement on a long-term contract extension for Flacco will be reached in the coming months.
"We have a franchise quarterback, he's going to get franchise money," Bisciotti said in an interview with a small group of reporters Thursday. "That franchise-money thing is about as hard to define as the word 'elite,' which we've had to dissect a hundred different ways. We've got our quarterback for the next 10 years, and we're going to ride Joe. And we said in the last couple of years that we believed he can get us to Super Bowls and win some."
Flacco, who has thrown eight touchdowns and no interceptions in the postseason, technically could become a free agent in March if his agent, Joe Linta, can't reach an agreement on an extension with the Ravens. However, the Ravens won't let it get to that point. They'd apply the franchise tag on the fifth-year quarterback, putting him in line to make $14.6 million next season if a deal isn't reached by July.
Flacco himself practically shrugged Thursday when asked about potentially being a free agent after the Ravens play the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.
"It's real simple," said Flacco, who made $6.76 million this year in the final season of his rookie contract. "We didn't agree on a number, and I didn't really care to discuss it any further once it got to that point. Bottom line is I'm not the guy going up into their offices and negotiating with them every day anyways. It was really never a concern of mine, and I never really thought about it. Even in the offseason, when you think about it a little bit, they are really all good thoughts.
"It's a good problem to have and to be talking about."
Linta and Newsome recently had brief discussions about a new deal, but nothing was done.
"The onus is on them to make a move after this week," said Linta, who recognizes that the Ravens could slap the franchise tag on Flacco for 2013 at a cost of about $14.6 million. "I would guess they want to keep him. He's 28, in the prime of his football life, has never missed a game. His résumé on the table is outstanding, and his future is even brighter."
If that résumé includes a Super Bowl win, Flacco might cost the Ravens in the $20 million-per-year range that Tom Brady and the Mannings are at. Flacco already is the only quarterback to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons.
"I'm just very comfortable that it will get done," Bisciotti said. "The fact that we're offering more per year than the franchise tag, to me it can't be too far away of where we stopped last year, the annual average was higher than the franchise tag."