Late in the season, Joe Flacco's inconsistent play was a major factor in the firing of his offensive coordinator. He became famous for "Flaccoing," referring to his hapless pose after throwing a pick-six against the Denver Broncos. The Ravens season was lost.
Now, Joe Flacco is now the richest man in NFL history after signing a six-year, $120.6 million contract, as reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
To be precise, Joe Flacco's deal with Ravens will clock in at six years and $120.6 million, a bit more than Drew Brees' in almost every way.2013-3-2 01:02:13
When a team signs a franchise quarterback, it's a big deal with big repercussions. The Ravens are doing that and then some. With $120.6 million on the line, the Ravens are staking their entire future on Flacco's golden right arm.
With this in mind, let's take a look at the ins and outs of Flacco's deal and what it means for the Ravens.
What We Know and What We Can Assume
Right now, all we know is that Flacco's deal is the total dollar figure of $120.6 million, and the length of six years.
Beyond that, there are a few assumptions we can make. First of all, we can guess with near-certainty that Flacco's contract is not front-loaded. The Ravens have some serious cap concerns right now, and paired with a low salary cap figure for this season, having a big cap number for this season is unlikely.
Another reason for that guess is that nearly all of the Ravens' big contracts are back-loaded. Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata and Lardarius Webb are all in line to rake in a lot more money in the back half of their contracts. Flacco will be likely to follow suit.
Questions to be Answered
Right now, we don't have any idea as to how much of that $120.6 million is guaranteed. It could be a huge amount, or Flacco could gamble on himself to meet various incentives. My hunch is that Flacco elected to take a bigger possible total salary with a smaller guaranteed amount. He gambled on himself before the season, and it paid off big. Now, it could pay off again.
That said, Flacco wouldn't be celebrating unless he got some serious guaranteed money. I'd expect somewhere between Drew Brees' $60 million guaranteed and the $40 million guaranteed that Michael Vick signed for in 2011.
The main question that remains, though, is how much Flacco will be getting this year. That will make a huge difference in what the Ravens will be able to do in terms of free agency and re-signings. We'll be sure to keep you posted on all the numbers as they are reported.
So, the Ravens' top priority is taken care of. Now what?
Well, they will be starting with re-signings. Dannell Ellerbe has been coming up the most as the No. 2 priority behind Flacco, but Paul Kruger should also be a top priority. Depending on Flacco's cap hit, both could be in the cards.
The Ravens will still be looking to adjust some contracts, regardless of how much space they have left after Flacco's deal. Anquan Boldin, Jacoby Jones, Vonta Leach and Terrell Suggs would be the top targets in that regard.
Finally, the Ravens have a huge question to answer. Can they build a competitive roster around a $20-million-a-year quarterback? The Indianapolis Colts were unable to do so around Peyton Manning, and it cost them dearly when he went down with injury.
The number is high, no doubt about it. Flacco should not be paid more than Drew Brees, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. Unfortunately, the Ravens had no choice. Faced with overpaying Flacco or losing him, they made the right call.
Flacco is not the kind of guy who will let the money go to his head. He will continue to work hard, constantly striving to prove he was worthy of this deal. If he can maintain his playoff form in the future, then he will do just that, and the Ravens will look like geniuses.