Joe Flacco will enter training camp this season on the last year of his contract and it will be interesting to see how negotiations begin next offseason. Joe Linta, Flacco’s agent, believes that Joe Flacco is a top five quarterback in the NFL. Early this offseason, Joe Linta, stated in the Baltimore Sun, "If the game is about wins and losses, he has to be in the top five".
In addition, this offseason when Flacco was asked during a radio interview where he sees himself among other quarterbacks in the NFL his response was, "I assume everybody thinks they're a top-five quarterback, I mean, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'm top five, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'd be very successful at my job if I didn't feel that way. I mean, c'mon? That's not really too tough of a question”. Of course if Joe Flacco feels that he plays like the best, then he most likely wants to be paid like the best. Since joining the team in 2008 Flacco has started every game for the Ravens and has been a big part of their success. Given Flacco’s impressive resume, the Ravens should be prepared to pay Joe Flacco like a top five quarterback.
After four straight playoff appearances, including two trips to the AFC Championship Game, Joe Flacco has done enough to prove that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Flacco has continued to improve each season throwing 14, then 21, and then 25 touchdown passes per season from 2008 to 2010. In addition, the Ravens have made the playoffs every year since Flacco has been the starter. Flacco’s 2011 numbers may not be as good as his 2010 numbers, but Flacco was finally able to defeat Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Prior to the 2011 season Flacco was 0-6 against Big Ben, but that losing streak came to an end after a week one victory over the Steelers. Flacco completed the sweep of the Steelers in week nine, when he drove his team 92 yards for the game winning touchdown in Pittsburgh. This victory propelled the Ravens to their first Division Title since 2006. In the playoffs, the Ravens were defeated by the Patriots, but had it not been for a questionable call in the end zone Flacco would have completed the pass and completed the drive that would have gotten his team to the Super Bowl.
In addition, Joe Flacco’s endeavors to be recognized as one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks should only be helped by the contract extension the Jets gave to Mark Sanchez in March. Sanchez signed a three year extension making his contract worth $58.25 million. The extension makes Mark Sanchez the 7th highest paid quarterback in the league. For the most part, Mark Sanchez is not considered a top ten quarterback in the NFL. In fact, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith went so far as to call the Jets “a joke” for signing Sanchez to this extension. Moreover, Joe Flacco was voted the 74th best player in the NFL by his peers, while Mark Sanchez did not crack the Top 100. Given the statements made by Joe Flacco and Joe Linta this offseason, is it highly unlikely they would accept a deal that did not surpass the amount paid to Sanchez.
Playing out the final year of his contract will allow Joe Flacco the opportunity to increase his leverage in contract negotiations next offseason. For example, Drew Brees played out the final year of his contract in 2011 and ended up shattering Dan Marino’s record for passing yards in a single season. As a result, Drew Brees signed the richest contract in NFL history. If Joe Flacco can back up his claim of being the best quarterback in the NFL this season, then the Ravens will have no choice but to pay him the contract he desires.
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