Kicker Justin Tucker said it was a matter of when, not if, he signed a contract extension with the Ravens.
In the end, the deal came at the final hour.
Tucker agreed to terms on a four-year deal worth a reported $16.8 million, per ESPN, less than a half hour before the 4 p.m. deadline. It keeps one of the game's best kickers and team's most well-liked players in purple and black through the 2019 season.
"Justin has become a cornerstone for our team, and we are happy to get this contract completed," General Manager Ozzie Newsome said. "What is good for the Ravens right now is that we have our Pro Bowl special teams group – Sam [Koch], Morgan [Cox] and Justin – signed through the next three seasons."
Tucker reportedly received the most guaranteed money of any kicker in NFL history ($10.8 million). Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski's $17.2 million salary over four years barely surpasses Tucker's total money, and they each reportedly received $6 million signing bonuses.
Negotiations took a twist Thursday night when Tucker's agent, Rob Roche, told ESPN Thursday night that the kicker “vowed” not to re-sign with the Ravens next offseason if an extension wasn't reached. Baltimore still could have placed the franchise tag on Tucker again, but it was an ominous sign.
Tucker said he didn't know what was going to happen until about 2:45 p.m. ET, an hour and 15 minutes before the deadline. He said it was definitely an "emotional rollecoaster."
"You want to talk about getting deals done in the eleventh hour?" Tucker said. "At the end of the day, that's all that matters. We were able to get it done."
When asked it if was important to him to be the game's highest-paid kicker, Tucker said he just wanted a deal that he and his family could feel good about.
"The word of the week has tended to be 'acrimonious,'" Tucker said. "I think we all wanted to make sure there was no animosity from this point moving forward."
Tucker is the second-most accurate kicker of all time, converting 87.8 percent of his field-goal attempts. Last year, he became the fastest kicker in NFL history to score 500 points (60 games). He has missed just six field goals from under 50 yards over his career (112-of-118).
Tucker was named to the 2013 Pro Bowl after hitting 92.7 percent of his field goals (38-of-41), including a game-winning 61-yard boot in Detroit. His clutch kicking, including a double-overtime winner in Denver, helped the Ravens reach, and win, Super Bowl XLVII.
But Tucker has always been more to the Ravens than just a big, accurate leg. His quirky personality and confidence is beloved by teammates and fans.
Baltimore has been fortunate to have two beloved kickers in Matt Stover and Tucker, and the team has invested in both. The Ravens have also now invested in all three pieces of its standout special teams trio, as Koch and Cox are signed through 2020.
Tucker still has room to grow. Last season he posted the lowest field-goal percentage (82.5) of his four-year career. A major reason is that Tucker attempted a career-high 10 field goals from 50 yards or beyond (most in the NFL). He connected on four for a career-low 40 percent success rate.
"I'm pumped that we were able to get it done," Tucker said. "Now we can move forward and focus on what's important. For me, that's making kicks. For all of us, it's winning games."