<
>

Ravens' Justin Tucker celebrates $16.8 million deal by splurging at Potbelly

Kicker Justin Tucker did his best Joe Flacco impersonation when it came to celebrating a big-money deal with a quick meal.

In 2012, Flacco famously stopped by McDonald's for his first meal after signing a $120.6 million contract. On Friday, Tucker chose to splurge in similar style after agreeing to a four-year, $16.8 million deal.

"I had to postpone this particular conference call by about 10 minutes because I was in line at Potbelly getting sandwiches for me, [his wife] Amanda and my in-laws as a thank-you for them letting me use their fax machine [to send in the signed contract]," Tucker said about an hour after striking the deal.

This is starting to become a tasty trend for Tucker after professional milestones.

"When I first made the team in 2012, I went and got a burrito from Chipotle and got the chips and guac and didn't worry as much about spending the extra couple bucks on the guac," Tucker said. "So this time around, we're celebrating with some Potbelly turkey sandwiches."

This is one way to commemorate receiving the most guaranteed money ($10.8 million) ever by an NFL kicker. Perhaps it's going to lead to another endorsement deal for Tucker, who has done commercials for a national soft drink, a regional convenience store and a car dealership.

For most of the day, Tucker didn't know if there would be any reason for a celebratory sandwich. It wasn't until 75 minutes before Friday's 4 p.m. deadline that he felt a deal would get done.

Like the rest of the league, the Ravens have a way of going the distance with these deals. Their last franchise-tag player (running back Ray Rice) signed his contract less than 10 minutes before the deadline.

"You want to talk about getting deals done in the 11th hour. We did just that," Tucker said. "At the end of the day, that's all that really matters. We were able to get it done."

This has been a tougher week than Tucker anticipated. Last month, he said "it’s a matter of when, not if" a deal would get done with the Ravens. On Thursday, after the Ravens had lowered their offer, Tucker's agent said the kicker was "disillusioned" with negotiations.

Tucker referred to the negotiating process as "an emotional roller coaster."

"You do everything you can to compartmentalize your feelings and realize whatever happens off the field is just business," Tucker said. "But the nature of my position is one that I've put everything I have mentally, emotionally and spiritually into every single attempt. So it's definitely difficult to separate on the field versus off the field, football versus business when they're so closely intertwined."

It got to the point Thursday that Tucker's agent said he wouldn't entertain a long-term deal with the Ravens if an agreement wasn't reached by Friday. Tucker didn't have to back up that hard-line stance when he became the fifth straight Ravens player to sign with the team after receiving the franchise tag.

"I can walk through the hallways of the facility and bump into anybody and there's no animosity," Tucker said. "The word of the week has tended to be acrimonious. I think we all wanted to make sure there was no acrimony or animosity from this point moving forward. What happened in the past couple of days is in the past couple of days. And it frankly doesn't matter moving forward."

What Tucker does have to look forward to is spending some of his money someplace other than Potbelly.

"[Long snapper] Morgan [Cox] made sure to let us know that the next time we play credit card roulette, we're going to have to go to a nice restaurant and only use my card," Tucker said.