“It’s tough to say you give up anything when you’re signing these kinds of deals,” he said.
Flacco got a lot of money – a reported $40 million signing bonus with a record-setting average salary of $21.1 million over the next six years.
But General Manager Ozzie Newsome may be the last one laughing, and he feels quite good about locking Flacco up – even at that price.
“Joe is our quarterback, and we’re proud to be able to say that. Teams struggle with the quarterback position,” Newsome said.
“Philly signing [Sam] Bradford and Washington having to put the franchise tag on [Kirk] Cousins [are examples]. They don’t have the resume that Joe has, and for us to be moving forward with a guy that has eight years and won a Super Bowl and been in three AFC championship games, it speaks volumes.”
The Eagles signed Bradford to a reported two-year deal worth $36 million, an average of $18 million per season. Bradford hasn’t had nearly as much career success as Flacco.
Cousins’ franchise tag is a one-year, $19.95 million contract. Cousins had a breakout 2015 season, but that was his first year as the team’s full-time starter. In 2014, Cousins was benched midway through the season after throwing nine interceptions to 10 touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Flacco has the most playoff wins (10) of any quarterback in the NFL since he entered the league in 2008. His seven playoff road wins are the most by a quarterback in NFL history.
“On his shoulders stands the success of this organization over the last eight years,” Newsome said.
Newsome has been down a windy road when it comes to finding a franchise quarterback. And that’s partly why he’s so intent on keeping the one he’s got.
The Ravens had 15 starting quarterbacks over 12 years before Flacco came to town, including Vinny Testaverde, Jim Harbaugh, Tony Banks, Trent Dilfer, Elvis Grbac, Jeff Blake, Kyle Boller and Steve McNair.
“I just spent about five days [at the NFL Scouting Combine] with GMs that are looking for a Joe Flacco, and they’re not sleeping at night,” Newsome said.
“And we did that. No one can appreciate a good quarterback [as much as] Ozzie Newsome can after going through what we went through. I learned a lot of lessons along the way of what a good quarterback really is.”
Two of Flacco’s last three seasons haven’t been as sparkling as the epic playoff run he went on before Super Bowl XLVII, which helped earn him his first mega contract.
The Ravens missed the playoffs in two of those three seasons. Flacco threw a career-high 22 interceptions in 2013 and tossed 14 touchdowns to 12 picks last season before being injured in Week 9. Still, Flacco was on pace for franchise and personal highs in passing yards last season, and his completion percentage was at a career-high 63.4 percent.
And there’s much more to Flacco than his stats.
“The thing I’ve learned about Joe over the course of the last eight years is that, no matter what you go through, no matter whether it’s the highest pinnacle of success or whether it’s disappointment after a loss, no matter what, you’re going to get Joe Flacco’s best,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said.