General manager Ozzie Newsome's optimism and Joe Flacco's expectations will be put to the test this week in Indianapolis when representatives from the Ravens, including Newsome, have an audience with agent Joe Linta.
With the deadline for designating franchise players and the start of free agency March 12 rapidly approaching, Newsome said the franchise tag remains a realistic failsafe if negotiations don't yield the new long-term deal Flacco covets.
"We're looking to get a fair deal done with Joe," Newsome said. "If we're able to get a deal done, it will allow us to be able to participate more in the market if we so choose. But we understand what the priority is."
The franchise designation for quarterbacks would bring Flacco at least $14.06 million for one year, a projection that could increase or decrease based on changes to the contract values of the highest-paid players at the position. The exclusive franchise tag for quarterbacks -- which disqualifies the player from negotiations with other teams -- is projected to have a value of more than $20 million on a one-year tender.
Linta has said Flacco deserves to be the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. Flacco, 28, is younger than Peyton Manning (who's earning $18 million per year) and Drew Brees ($20 million). Brees began last offseason by being designated an exclusive franchise player by the Saints, then signed a five-year, $100 million contract before the start of the 2012 season.
Linta argues that Flacco, 28, is younger and has won as many Super Bowl titles as Manning and Brees.
"When you do a contract of this magnitude, you look at what is the player's body of work presently," Linta said in an interview with CNBC. "And what are the expectations going forward over the next four, five or six years. Joe wins on both accounts."
Since Flacco came in the NFL in 2008, the Ravens have won a playoff game each season. He's the first quarterback to do that. And he was stellar in the 2012 postseason with 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions in four games.