March 3, 2013
Though there's a chance Joe Flacco may now be able to buy Disneyworld, the key details regarding his agreement in principle — signing bonus, guarantees, structure, etc. — still aren't known. But one league insider with extensive experience negotiating major contracts says that one known fact puts a check mark in the team's win column.
The sixth year.
Though Flacco has satisfied his objective of clearing the bar (barely) set by Drew Brees at $20 million with a $20.1 million average, the sixth year of the $120.6 million contract was critical to the Ravens.
A five-year deal with a $20.1 million average would have put Flacco and the Ravens back in this same situation, at a time when he has only 10 years of experience. As we pointed out last weekend, low cap numbers in the early years of a five-year deal means big cap numbers later (like in the Brees contract) — which also means a franchise tag that would be through the roof in the first year after the deal expires.
That franchise tag then becomes the starting point for the next contract.
Per the source, the Ravens likely will pay out significant cash in the first 12 months, and likewise in the first three years. That's the precedent they set in contracts given to players like running back Ray Rice, linebacker Terrell Suggs, and defensive lineman Haloti Ngata.
Regardless of the money paid on the front end, the Ravens most likely will have insisted on a sixth year with a cap number that translates to a franchise tender (based on the provision guaranteeing the franchise player a 20-percent raise) that the Ravens would be able to fit under the cap, come 2019.
By then, Flacco will have 11 years in the league — and he'll be 34 years old. Considering that plenty of today's franchise quarterbacks are in that same chronological ballpark, Flacco could ultimately be in position to sign another deal that barely clears whatever the high-water mark for quarterbacks is at the time.