Today marks the first day that teams can place the franchise tag on players around the NFL. Last season, a record 21 players were slapped with the tag with 12 of those players agreeing to multi-year deals before the July 16th deadline last year. Fresh off a Super Bowl victory and MVP award, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has played the final year of his rookie contract and is eligible for free agency this offseason. Flacco will never reach the free agent market but desires a long-term deal as his agent proclaimed Flacco should be paid as one of the top quarterbacks in the league. Talks are expected to begin at the annual NFL Combine which opens this week.
The Ravens really only have themselves to blame for this current situation. They should have worked out a contract extension prior to the start of the season, but based on this season, Flacco has earned himself a significant pay upgrade.
If the Ravens are unable to get a long-term deal done with Flacco, they will place the franchise tag on him. Which franchise tag is the remaining question. A non exclusive franchise tag allows him to speak with other teams and if they can work out a deal, the Ravens would receive that team’s first round picks for the next two years.
If I am the Cleveland Browns, I just at that chance. Flacco is entering his prime and only the Cincinnati Bengals have more room under the salary cap. Of course the Browns have no second-round selection in this year’s draft so they wouldn’t have a selection until the third-round. Given the amount of money they have to spend, many holes could be plugged through free agents.
If the Ravens decide to keep Flacco from speaking to other teams through the use of the exclusive franchise tag, the team will be forced to pay him $20.5 million in salary for the 2013 season if a long-term contract can’t be reached.
Say what you will about Flacco, but the Ravens can ill-afford to lose him under center. Baltimore needs to bite the bullet and pay the man while locking him up for the next six or seven seasons.