"I've never in my life seen a dumber move," agent Joe Linta told USA Today Sports.
Was it the wrong move financially to let Flacco play out the final year of his rookie contract? Absolutely. Linta estimates the Ravens would've saved $35 million if they hadn't waited.
Was it a dumb move by the Ravens? Not necessarily. There's something to be said for dangling a big pay day in front of an athlete to get the best possible performance. The Ravens have enjoyed putting the franchise tags on players because it puts pressure on them to play well since it's essentially a one-year contract. Likewise, the Ravens put that same pressure on Flacco by letting him play his contract year.
Baltimore was really in a no-lose situation with Flacco. The only way the Ravens were either going to have to pay him more than $16 million per season, the offer before the 2012 season, was if Flacco had a Pro Bowl season or if he led them to the Super Bowl. Up until last season, Flacco had failed to do either one.
Let's put it this way: If Flacco hadn't completed that miracle throw to Jacoby Jones in the AFC divisional playoff game in Denver, the Ravens probably could've signed him to a deal that averaged $16 million per season. Baltimore wouldn't have had to pay more for Flacco given his solid but far from spectacular regular season (3,817 yards passing with 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions).
But Flacco guided the Ravens to the Super Bowl title with a postseason for the ages and became the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player. The Ravens had little choice but to sign him to a deal that averaged $20.1 million per season ($120.6 million over six years). Yes, Flacco made the Ravens pay for not signing him before the season. But don't forget that the Ravens got what they wanted in the end, too, and that's their first Lombardi Trophy in 12 years. If you told Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti that it would cost him an additional $35 million to win the Super Bowl, my guess is he wouldn't think twice in opening up the check book.
I understand Linta's reasoning for what he said. Some fans think Flacco was selfish for signing that then-record deal when the Ravens lacked salary-cap room and had to part ways with wide receiver Anquan Boldin and safety Ed Reed. Linta was defending Flacco when he explained that the Ravens put themselves in this situation by not signing him earlier. They were unwilling to add $1 million more to the final year of that deal, according to Linta.
"So I have no sympathy," Linta said. "None."
Linta could've handled the situation more deftly. He should've made the point that Flacco actually helped out the Ravens' salary-cap situation by agreeing to a long-term deal rather than play under the franchise tag. His salary-cap figure for 2013 is $6.8 million. Instead, Linta chose to gloat.
The negotiations over the past two years between the Ravens and Linta were always regarded as cordial and professional. Let's see if that's the same tone when the sides will have to rework Flacco's deal in 2016 when his cap number balloons to $28.55 million.