COMMENTARY| When the Baltimore Ravens announced the numbers of Joe Flacco's new contract at the beginning of the offseason, the response was swift and critical. Fans and analysts alike screamed that the Ravens would be crippled by Flacco's massive contract, unable to re-sign their own players or sign even lower-tier free agents. Regardless of the cap friendly measures in place, the $20 million per year deal seemed a symptom of a quarterback market that had gone out of control.
It has, but don't blame the Ravens. Having taken care of Flacco quickly, before free agency opened, the Ravens actually got a discount when compared to the latest deals.
Not long after Flacco signed his deal, Aaron Rodgers was extended to a deal that surpassed even Flacco's: a five-year, $110 million deal that averages out to $22 million a year. That deal made Rodgers the most expensive player in the NFL, though you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks that he is undeserving.
Both of these deals were a little controversial, if only for their sheer size. The deals have already started to go crazy, and they will only get worse.
We've already gone down this road when the Dallas Cowboys re-upped Tony Romo to his own mega-deal. Though less total money than Flacco's contract, Romo's deal is less cap friendly and guarantees even more money.
Next was Matthew Stafford, who just agreed to a massive extension of his own. Though significantly less than Rodgers' and Flacco's deals, Stafford's extension is still around $17 million per year, not including the remaining years that were on his contract. This for a quarterback who has never won a playoff game.
Worse than the massive total salary is the guaranteed money that Stafford's deal brings. His $43 million guaranteed are significantly more per year than Flacco's $52 million, and for a much riskier player. Stafford has been inconsistent and injury-prone, so regardless of his ceiling, the guaranteed money here is absurd.
It's also common knowledge that Matt Ryan will be getting a new contract this offseason. The parameters of the deal are still being worked out, but waiting has boosted Ryan's leverage and set a precedent for the kind of mega-deal he's looking for. When Ryan signs on the dotted line, he will probably become the highest paid player in the NFL.
Though Ryan isn't worthy of that status, the market has been set. He is a true franchise quarterback, and if the Falcons aren't willing to pay him, another team would.
To recap, since Flacco signed his much maligned deal, Tony Romo has signed for more guaranteed money, Aaron Rodgers has become the highest paid player in the NFL, Matthew Stafford has signed for more guaranteed money per year and Matt Ryan is getting ready to sign a deal that should trump them all.
Flacco's was a controversial deal at the time, and the process was contentious. Yet, the Ravens came out on top again, signing a deal that keeps Flacco's cap number very low for three years, when they will re-negotiate.
The Ravens had to re-sign Flacco, and for the most part, the other quarterbacks mentioned were crucial to their teams as well. Give the Ravens credit, though, for dictating the market rather than letting the market dictate their negotiations. In doing so, they were able to re-sign their franchise quarterback to a deal that now looks pretty smart.
Shawn Brubaker is a graduate of the Catholic University of America. He has been a Baltimore Ravens featured columnist for Bleacher Report for two years and is currently a co-host of Ravens Central Radio.
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