The Baltimore Ravens are heading into a defining season in 2012. The tension in Baltimore will likely be tangible when the season kicks off this fall. It's no secret that they have an aging defense and an elite running back that's about to be given the team's franchise tag. We all know that, but that's not the biggest question for the Ravens in 2012.
That question involves the curious case of Joe Flacco. Flacco's current contract ends following the 2012 season. He'll be making $8.86 million in 2012 according to Rotoworld, and he'll likely be asking for top tier money when the time to begin contract negotiations begins.
The Ravens have some large decisions coming up with their key offensive players, but none looms larger than the statement the team could make by committing - or not - to their quarterback long term in this offseason.
Here's the problem. Joe Flacco is not an elite quarterback, or anywhere near it for that matter. He has the occasional great moment, as should have been the case in this year's AFC title game, but it wasn't meant to be. His problem is that he's all over the quarterback spectrum. We remember him beating the Steelers twice this season, but do we remember the Jacksonville and Seattle performances? That's not deserving of top-five money on any day of the week.
Despite the lack of a defining moment, can we turn to stats to justify a monster payday in Joe Flacco's future? Again, no we can't.
Flacco has thrown 80 touchdowns to just 46 interceptions in his career. Those are solid stats by anyone's measuring stick, but that number doesn't tell the whole story. Flacco has completed just 60.8% of his passes over the course of his 4 year career. Are you still thinking about elite money? Yeah, I'm not either.
Flacco and the Ravens may be on a dangerous collision course. Ray Rice and the Ravens haven't been able to agree on a contract yet, and it's almost certain Rice will be franchised by the Ravens, and that's exactly where it appears Joe Flacco may be headed just a year from now. Flacco and his agent may be overvaluing his talent and performance, while the Ravens are just trying to pay him fair-market value. The two sides are likely to be miles apart when they begin negotiations.
Here's my advice to the Ravens. Just wait. If the Ravens decide to begin contract negotiations with Flacco during the 2012 season, they're likely to be adding an unneeded distraction within the locker room. So I say again, just wait until the season is over to begin talking about contracts.
Joe Flacco is not worth top-five money. He's never taken his team to the Super Bowl, and he's becoming notorious for having a few dud games per year. He's still young, and he has the ability to improve, but he's not to he pinnacle yet, and he shouldn't be compensated as if he has reached the top.
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