Thanks to Flacco's six-year, $120.6 million deal with $52 million guaranteed (via NFL.com), both soon-to-be free agents—Ryan before the 2014 NFL season and Rodgers after the 2014 season—have been provided great leverage in contract negotiations.
Using the salary of the Ravens quarterback as a starting point, these Pro-Bowl signal-callers are on the verge of signing colossal contracts. But they aren't the only ones who will stand to benefit from Flacco's good fortune.
Let's examine what Flacco's deal means for the cream of the 2014 free-agent quarterback crop, as well as Rodgers in 2015, starting with a statistical comparison:
|Name||Career Completion % ||Yards/Completion||Completions/TDs||Playoff Wins|
|Aaron Rodgers||65.7 ||12.3 ||10.2||6 (SB)|
|Joe Flacco||60.5||11.7||14.7||9 (SB)|
The table illustrates that although Flacco's elementary statistics may not be gaudy, he stacks up reasonably well with some of the top quarterbacks in the game—even besting Ryan in yards per completion.
However, the table also shows how much more efficient Rodgers, Ryan, Tony Romo and Jay Cutler have been with their general passing efforts.
It's nearly impossible to quantify how much weight playoff wins carry, and frankly, every team may value those differently compared to individual, regular-season stats. That said, one playoff win each for Ryan, Romo and Cutler certainly isn't helping their contractual causes.
Now, let's compare each of these four quarterbacks to Flacco and come to an approximate conclusion on the type of money that each of them should receive when their contracts expire.
Note: The 2013 season will play a major factor in how much each quarterback ultimately receives. All of these predictions are based on current rate of play.
Cutler has remarkable talent, especially when it comes to arm strength. However, his own awareness of his ability to air it out occasionally gets him into trouble. Cutler takes big risks with the football and isn't afraid to throw it into tight coverage.
While his passing skill set is impressive, his footwork could use improvement. Also, Cutler hasn't been able to stay healthy in each of the last two seasons, precisely when the Bears looked to be a playoff team.
Even with a good defense in Chicago, Cutler doesn't have much of a playoff track record either, and he will be nearing his 31st birthday when he becomes a free agent.
Barring an unforeseen postseason run, the Bears quarterback should receive a four- to five-year contract in the $70-$75 million range.
Romo is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the NFL, though his late-season blunders, playoff disappointment and ubiquitous media presence make some think the opposite.
But truthfully, he has been supremely effective, especially over the last three years, tossing 70 touchdowns to 36 interceptions and completing 66.4 percent of his passes.
Romo isn't young, though. He turns 33 this April, meaning he'll be close to his 34th birthday when he could hit free agency (his contract is voidable at the end of the 2013 campaign).
The Cowboys' signal-caller is currently playing on a deal he signed in October of 2007 that pays him an average of $11.25 million per season.
Although it wouldn't be totally outlandish to say that Romo has honored that contract with his play, it is far-fetched to fathom him being offered a deal even close to Flacco's.
In theory, if Romo took Dallas to the Super Bowl and won it, he would have the right to pine for a deal that exceeded Flacco's. Regardless of what happens in 2013, though, age will be the strongest factor going against him.
He should garner a four- to five-year contract in the Cutler range of $70-$75 million.
Ryan is a more prolific quarterback than Flacco. Although the Atlanta signal-caller has a lower yards per completion average during his career, he is on the brink of being included in the oft-argued "elite" category because of a far superior completion percentage and passer rating.
Since 2009, his numbers have increased nearly across the board, and he finally won a playoff game in 2013.
Flacco's deal will have a major effect on the type of contract Ryan ultimately receives due to age, as both will still be considered in the prime of their careers after 2013.
A five- to six-year deal in the neighborhood of $110-$115 million is not out of the question for Ryan. And if he wins a Super Bowl, look out.
Rodgers is the best quarterback in the 2014 or 2015 free-agent class, and frankly, I believe he's the best signal-caller in the entire NFL. He's already won a Super Bowl and pieced together arguably the greatest quarterback season of all time in 2011—4,643 yards, 68.3 completion percentage, 45 touchdowns and six interceptions.
And he's done all of this before celebrating his 30th birthday.
Rodgers will be 31 when his current contract is complete, but it's important to remember that he will be a "young" 31 due to the three seasons he sat behind Brett Favre before assuming the starting role in Green Bay. For reference, though drafted three years earlier, Rodgers has attempted only 28 more passes than Ryan in his career.
Even if Rodgers doesn't lead the Packers to their second Super Bowl title of his era, he will certainly ask for a more lucrative deal than Flacco, and he deserves it.
Something in the six-year, $125-$130 million range with around $60 million in guarantees would be reasonable.
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