Joe Flacco’s imminent contract negotiation
Nine figures seems to be the standard contract for even average, competent quarterbacks. Guys like Jay Cutler, Cam Newton, and Andy Dalton come to mind. Dalton for example, just shy of nine figures, inked a six year, $96M deal in 2014. But, only $17M of that is guaranteed. So the team doesn’t put themselves in salary cap jail not fully knowing what kind of player they have on their hands.
The Ravens know exactly what kind of player they have in Joe Flacco, and it’s an above average one. Flacco is entering the third year of his six year contract he was awarded following the 2012 season in which he brought Baltimore a title, and took home Super Bowl MVP honors himself. The six year, $120.6M deal, was the largest in the game on a per year basis, only until Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers eclipsed him in the same offseason.
Discuss your thoughts on this topic on our message board.
Flacco’s salary cap hit is a manageable $14.55M for the upcoming 2015 season. However, that number takes a monster leap up to $28.55M in 2016, $31.15M in 2017, and $24.75M in 2018. It’s safe to say Flacco can’t play at those cap dollar amounts in order for the team to remain as strong a unit as it has been for so many years. Ozzie Newsome knows this, and made mention of such at their annual State of the Ravens presser. They are already planning on an negotiating for 2016. What might a new deal for Flacco look like?
Let’s go back and take a look at Aaron Rodgers for a few reasons. They are very close in age with Rodgers at 31, Flacco at 30. Rodgers had the largest annual value contract when he got his extension which was his second large contract. Flacco’s upcoming extension will be his second large contract. Despite the large contract, the Packers did a masterful job at placing more money up front in the Rodgers deal than other teams usually do. In doing so, they are paying him more cash in his pocket for his All-Pro contributions in his prime. The Packers are not being put in a position where they will have to restructure his contract three years into the deal, like the Ravens are about to do for Flacco’s first large deal.
Here is a look at Aaron Rodgers five year, $110M extension, with a $33.2M signing bonus ($54M total guaranteed) from 2013. He had two years left on the original deal when the extension was awarded. Cash wise, he makes an average of $18M over the first three years of the deal. In the final four year as he gets older, the average is about $17M. $16.5M if he doesn’t complete voluntary workouts.
Let’s compare to Joe Flacco’s deal after he won Super Bowl XLVII $120.6M, $52M guaranteed. Flacco stands to make $62M by the end of this, the third year of the deal. $20.66M per year average. It drops to a $19.53M average over the next three years if they were not to restructure, which they can’t not do.
From the second year of the Rodgers deal to the last year, a span of six years, the cap hit only increases a total of $3.55M. It’s an almost $10M increase from year two to year six for Flacco.
Furthermore, Aaron Rodgers average annual value of $22M per year, is higher than any of the cap hits for the rest of his contract. Seems to be exactly what you want to shoot for. Joe Flacco’s AAV is $20.1M, and his cap number is well over that in the final three years.
Even more astounding, is that the Packers structured his deal so that when Rodgers turns 34 and 35 years old, if he somehow turns into a liability, they can cut bait with no dead money on the books. The roster and workout bonuses are not guaranteed, and only paid for play. Only the roster bonuses in 2014 and 2015 were guaranteed for Rodgers. In Flacco’s case, option bonuses are guaranteed money that Flacco has received already and stays on the books for the duration. So when the extension comes for Flacco after this season, the $14.25M in guaranteed money from the option bonus will rollover on the new cap figures from the new deal. Also, $11.6M in the two years remaining of the signing bonus. A total of $25.85M being rolled over before you even talk salary.
If Rodgers earned another extension at the end of 2015, only $13.3M of guaranteed money would need to be carried over.
So what would a new deal for Flacco look like? You have to figure out the years first. Rodgers deal took him up to age 35. If we do that for Flacco, we are only tacking on two more years to his current deal. I don’t think that will work, given how much guaranteed money Joe Flacco will be entitled to.
Essentially, the Ravens should look to lock him up for the rest of his career. Given his durability, I think a contract taking Flacco up to his age 38 season would be acceptable. Especially how I’m going to build it following the Packers model. Peyton Manning is 39, Tom Brady is 38. Drew Brees is 36 and Tony Romo is 35, and they will likely make it to 38, not showing many signs of losing their physical ability. I expect Flacco to be around a while as well.
We’ll tack on five years, making it an eight year deal for Joe Flacco, keeping him in Baltimore up to 2023 and age 38.
Since each contract awarded to the league’s top players tend to be higher than the one another player previously received, Flacco’s added money should be worth more than Rodgers $110M. Not because he’s better than Rodgers. It’s just the name of the game. Unless Flacco totally wets the bed in 2015, which he won’t, he’ll get a very favorable deal. We’ll be generous to our franchise quarterback, and award Joe Flacco $115M over the five years we are adding on. $23M per year in that span.
We have the length, the amount, now how much of that do we want to guarantee Flacco? Overall, it becomes a total of eight years, and a total value of $154M and change, roughly $19.25M per year. His current deal nets Flacco $20.1M per. For the guaranteed money, we’ll need to take care of him for lowering his average value per year. You’ll see that if he were play out his original contract, he would be entitled to $58.6M in base salary from 2016-2018. This has to be the minimum guaranteed money for him, in exchange for lowering his cap number for the Ravens. On top of that, lets guarantee him $65M. We’ll make most of it, $35M of it signing bonus, prorated over five years (For 2016 and 2017, the previous singing bonus on the books of $5.8M carries over). We’ll follow the Packers model with Rodgers, and frontload another $25M in three years’ worth of roster bonuses, but also guaranteed to Flacco, and we’ll guarantee his base salary totaling $5M for 2016 and 2017. (Option bonus also carried over on the books from the previous deal).
A rough estimation of what a possible deal could look like for Joe Flacco following the 2015 season.
So what we have done is structured a contract that fits all the benchmarks that the Packers so smartly did in locking up Aaron Rodgers. The only glaring difference is the timing of the deal, and the signing and option bonuses carried over, which makes the cap hits so high for the Ravens. Without those, you are looking at an $11M cap hit, very low, and comparable to the early numbers in Rodgers deal.
- The Ravens save $7M against the cap in year one of the new deal (2016).
- Joe Flacco’s cap number never goes higher than the average per year value of his new money ($23M).
- Joe Flacco is guaranteed $39M in year one of the new deal. The structure of the guaranteed roster bonuses from 2017-2019, and guaranteed base salaries on 2016 and 2017, means his cash value each year is the following: $39M, $5M, $11.015M, $16M, $16M, $22M, $22M, $23M.
- As the salary cap continues to increase at record rates, a cap number under $23M is feasible for the franchise QB. Drew Brees, while not the norm, is currently sitting with a $26.4M cap number.
- In his age 36, 37, 38 seasons, Flacco is playing for just base salary. His game checks are a very respectable about $1.375M per game in 2021-22, $1.4375M in 2023. Worst case scenario, Flacco loses all his ability at age 36, and can be released, or he can retire, with no cap repercussions, or dead money on the table. Also in comparison in those last three years, Peyton Manning will have played at a base salary of $15M for his age 37, 38, 39 seasons. At age 40 in 2016, he’ll be eligible for a base salary of $19M. Account for inflation by 2021…very generous for Flacco, and no dead money should problems arise for the Ravens.
So there you have it. Joe Flacco gets paid, again. The Ravens won’t find themselves in unfavorable cap situations, and make it easy for their franchise QB to retire a Raven. Joe Flacco, Steve Bisciotti. I’m glad I could get that done for you guys. Now…can we talk commission?
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]