Joe Flacco Inks Three-Year, $66.4M Extension
We knew this day was coming almost three years ago to the day. It was March 4th, 2013 when Joe Flacco signed the largest contract in NFL history. He did so after guiding the Baltimore Ravens through the playoffs in historic fashion and brought home the teams second Lombardi Trophy. In the spring leading up to the 2013 season, Flacco signed a six-year, 120.6M dollar contract. The largest contract in league history would later be eclipsed by Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers in the same offseason.
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Joe Flacco’s contract was stacked in a way that nearly guaranteed restructuring after three of the six years. Not a bad thing to extend him in his early 30s rather than mid-30s. His salary cap number number could have been an extremely high $28.55M for 2016, and even higher $31.15M in 2017. This new extension will lighten that cap load in the coming years, free up cap space to make other additions and lock up Joe Flacco as Baltimore’s quarterback for what could be the rest of his career.
Joe Flacco will enter 2016 at age 31. If he plays out the duration of the contract, he will not need a new deal until age 37.
To quell the notion from the extreme minority that feel the Ravens should have moved on from Flacco in either a release or a trade, figure that the Ravens would be on the hook for $25.85M in dead money if not posted after June 1st. Then the team would still have to pay someone to replace Flacco. Or you pay him the over $28M, or do what the Ravens did yesterday. Make a deal.
The Ravens did the right thing here. Flacco wins, leaving the castle yesterday with a bonus for $44 million. Powerball winners scoff at that amount as they got a half billion a couple months ago. The fans win. Long have we forgotten the years where the Ravens started eight different quarterbacks in seven years. Currently the Browns change quarterbacks at the rate people change their underwear. The team wins by being able to have their financials in order just in time for the start of the new league year.
Here is a quick look at Flacco’s contract he signed in 2013
Now a look at his contract with a three-year extension through 2021. The three years tacked on bring the grand total of the contract up to six years and $125 million.
The previous prorated money is guaranteed money on the books from the old deal that must stay on the books. The new guaranteed money consists of a $40M signing bonus spread out over five seasons and his 2016 base salary of $4M is guaranteed.
The Ravens save $6 million against the salary cap for 2016. That’s great for freeing up cap space. But another way to look at it is that part of that money saved went to franchising kicker, Justin Tucker for $4.57M. Baltimore is still tight against the cap, but this relief is certainly welcome.
Other cuts will need to be made, and will come in the near future. The new league year will kickoff on March 9th. The teams will need to be under the salary cap by then, and it’s only fair for cut players to be in the free agency mix at the start of the year.
The salary cap for 2016 has increased higher than all expectations, over $12 million to $155.27M. In essence, the Ravens have gained $18M in cap space from these two scenarios playing out. But they were so far over the cap before the moves that they have about $8.4M in free cap space, before cuts. Cuts which will save some cap space but add to the dead money pool as well. Also have to account for a few million dollars devoted to draft picks. Don’t forget, only the top 51 salaries on the roster count against the cap until final cuts are made after the preseason.
The Ravens are currently 28th in the league in available cap space, with the Broncos, Dolphins, and Redskins all still over the cap with less than a week to cut players and restructure contracts to fix that.
At the end of the day, this contract was structured not so much to free up immediate cap space; but to limit the cap numbers Flacco will carry into the future. Of course, also to lock up a proven winner for six more seasons. As you can see, the cap numbers are quite different in the two deals. His first deal was guaranteed to be restructured at a later date. But got him the guaranteed money he deserved.
The second one gets him some more guaranteed money, $44M to be exact, which he decided to pick up a couple of iced coffees with this time instead of Mickey D’s. But the contract is also team friendly in the way that even six years from now, Flacco’s cap hit never reaches the $30M mark. A mark Drew Brees has already hit and one that could become more and more commonplace in the league where salaries keep reaching levels no one expected. At the current rate, the NFL salary cap could reach $170 million in 2017 and will likely hit the $200M mark by the turn of the decade. This contract will pretty much increase along with the cap. The good thing is the percentage of the cap Flacco takes up likely does not increase.
It’s built similarly to the contract extension the Green Bay Packers built for Aaron Rodgers in 2013. Something I took note of nine months ago when I first broke down a possible extension for Flacco. I was a little off in the numbers predicting a five year extension for $95.4M ($19.08M AAV) where this one is three for $66.4M ($22.13 AAV). I predicted $39M he would walk out with on day one, he gets $44M. But the philosophy was the same. Cap friendly numbers throughout the length of the deal. No spikes up over $30M of a cap hit that would have been crippling, and left us begging for yet anouther restructure, this time late in his career.
The last thing that sticks out is the worst case scenario, if the Ravens have to back out of the deal down the road because of lack of production. Not what we want to see of course, but it happens. It appears that the Ravens need Flacco to produce for at least four years. Anytime before year five of the deal, it would be devastating if Flacco has to be let go. In year four, the dead money would account for $16 million, and a savings on the cap of just $2.5M. After adding a replacement quarterback to the roster, they would be practically paying the same amount not to have Joe Flacco around. God forbid this scenario plays out.
The fifth year of this deal, the Ravens could get out for $8M in dead money, but save themselves over $20M in cap space. In the final year of the deal, the Ravens could get out with no cap penalties at all and save the over $24M. Who knows what the future holds? But the Ravens are in good shape if they get solid production from Joe Flacco through age 35.
Flacco has proven himself as a quality NFL quarterback. Cherry pick whatever stats you want. You can pull some that make him look like Kyle Boller. You can pull some that make him look like Joe Montana. Just know that in this day in age, there is no middle ground. You either get paid big money, or you are a journeyman making a few million or less at a time. I’ll take Joe Flacco over the journeymen every single time.
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]