NFL: Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco should land bumper contract from Baltimore Ravens
Joe Flacco's run to the Super Bowl will cost the Baltimore Ravens big time as he is due a new contract.
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH
Last Updated: 11/02/13 4:05pm
Whilst Ravens fans are still basking in the glory of their Super Bowl XLVII win over San Francisco in New Orleans, coach John Harbaugh and top-ranking officials are already looking towards next season and the contract deals that need to be done.
Ray Lewis is retiring, as most probably is centre Matt Birk, while six starters will become unrestricted free agents when the league year officially starts again in March, but undoubtedly top of their list is Super Bowl MVP Flacco.
The fifth-year quarterback attracted headlines at the start of the season when he said he thought he was the best quarterback in the NFL, and although his stats have not backed that up, his victories and new Super Bowl ring certainly will.
Flacco matched Joe Montana's record of 11 touchdowns with no interceptions during the play-offs, and has more wins on the road in the post-season than any other quarterback in history, and those kinds of records add up to a big new deal.
Baltimore must be kicking themselves for not signing him up at the start of the season, and now they can either hand him a one-year deal on the franchise tag which would cost them around $15m, or sign him to a long-term deal and agree to his wish to be the best-paid QB in the league, which would mean a $20m average salary.
"We're looking to get a fair deal done with Joe," Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said. "If we're able to get a deal done, it will allow us to be able to participate more in the market if we so choose. But we understand what the priority is."
Flacco's agent Joe Linta insists his man is worth more than current top earners Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, with the 28-year-old already matching their Super Bowl victories and showing such composure during the Super Bowl.
"When you do a contract of this magnitude, you look at what is the player's body of work presently," Linta told CNBC. "And what are the expectations going forward over the next four, five or six years.
"Joe wins on both accounts."
Flacco is also the only QB to win a play-off game in his first five NFL seasons, but he still has some doubters due to his statistical performances which saw him rank 14th in passing yards and 15th in touchdowns during the 2012 regular season.
Critics say his success is in part down to a fearsome Ravens defence and power running game which has left him little to do, but there was no doubt his throws got them through to the Super Bowl this year, and his play under pressure suggests that he is a consummate big-game player.
Now comes the dilemma facing the Ravens, they surely must be convinced that they can win again with Flacco, it's just a case of whether they can find a way to reward his displays but also save some salary cap space for some of their other veterans.
A bumper deal for Flacco would further stretch their salary base to breaking point, with still linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger and legendary safety Ed Reed becoming free agents on March 4, not all of them will be able to pick-up lucrative contracts.
It even could end up with someone like Reed leaving Baltimore, while tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson are becoming restricted free agents also - and there could be some unpopular decisions to make for the champions, who insist they will not mortgage the future by over-spending to keep the team together in the short-term as they did after their first Super Bowl in 2001.
"We will not repeat what we did in 2001," Newsome said. "We're trying to build where we can win Super Bowls more than just one more time. I think our team is structured differently this time, also.
"We do have some veterans that will probably be retiring but we have a great nucleus of young players and players that are just heading into their prime that we're going to build this team around.
"We're not going to be restricting contracts, do all of those different things just to be able to maintain this team just to make another run. We're not doing that. But that doesn't mean that we don't want to try and go and repeat."
Like so many teams the salary cap rules will make it an uncomfortable off-season for the Ravens, but Flacco is surely first up in the queue after silencing his doubters and bringing home the biggest prize of all.