Ravens, John Harbaugh 'Finalizing' Long-Term Deal
On Dec. 22, the Ravens announced that John Harbaugh would be their coach in 2019, and that both sides were working together on a long-term extension.
Last night, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that an extension is nearing fruition.
"There was a good reason why John Harbaugh came out very publicly and said that he believes he is staying in Baltimore," Rapoport said.
"My understanding is that contract negotiations for a long-term extension are going well, they are progressing. The belief is that Harbaugh is going to remain in Baltimore. … It's just a matter of finalizing this deal now."
Rapoport said the timetable for the extension is unclear; it could be done in three days or three weeks.
Over the past couple weeks, there have been whispers about other teams' interest in possibly trading for Harbaugh. That led to a question to Harbaugh after Sunday's wild-card playoff loss about whether he believes there's any uncertainly about where he'll be next season.
The head coach reiterated his stance.
"I have every expectation and every plan to be here as long as the Ravens want me here, and I believe they want me here," Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh said that point had been made clear to him by management "over the last few weeks" indicating that the two sides had been having dialogue throughout.
"The reality is this is what he wanted. He wanted to stay, he likes this organization," Rapoport said. "He just wanted the long-term commitment that it seems they have given him."
This is excellent news for Ravens fans, as Harbaugh has been one of the NFL's most successful coaches during his 11-year tenure in Baltimore. The Ravens have gone to the playoffs in seven of those seasons and won Super Bowl XLVII.
This year, Harbaugh did one of his best jobs yet, rallying a team that was 4-5 at the bye, transforming an offense at midseason and transitioning from a franchise quarterback to an exciting rookie. He was graded as the NFL's fourth-best coach this year by HeadCoachingRanking.com.
"While some coaches attempt to squeeze a square peg in a round hole, Harbaugh bought a whole new playset for his budding star," wrote NFL.com's Nick Shook. "The offensive transformation and retention of Baltimore's collective focus was a masterful job on the part of Harbaugh."
Harbaugh came into the league with Joe Flacco in 2008 and they had a ton of success. Now he has Lamar Jackson, and the two hope to link up for another epic run.
"Perhaps his most important long-term move was Sunday's decision to stick with Jackson when the offense couldn't muster anything," Shook wrote.
"Sure, Baltimore lost the game, but Jackson and his teammates eventually figured things out, scoring two touchdowns in the fourth. And Harbaugh probably scored trust points with Jackson by sticking with his rookie when facing adversity and scores of fans (and media members) calling for Flacco to replace him."
Pundits Agree That Joe Flacco Will Have a Trade Market
Harbaugh said after Sunday's game that "Joe's going to have a market" this offseason, of course implying what everybody has figured was coming – that Flacco will not be a Raven next season.
Pundits agree that Flacco will be a hot name this offseason, and they believe that market could come via trade instead of after a release.
"It's really just a matter of, will they release him or will they be able to trade him and his $18.5 million salary," Rapoport said.
"Trading him doesn't seem out of the question; at least they would be able to get something. They would work with Flacco on anything as far as a potential destination. They're not going to ship off their former franchise quarterback someplace he doesn't want to be."
As NFL Network's Tom Pelissero pointed out, Flacco is due to make $63 million total over the next three years.
"That is not top-10 quarterback money. That is middle-of-the-road type of money," Pelissero said. "We've seen guys like Sam Bradford go out there and get $20 million in free agency. Certainly not out of the question to think somebody would be willing to trade for Joe Flacco."
Teams may prefer to trade for Flacco instead of waiting for his release and having to get into a bidding war with other teams. In that scenario, they could stand to pay even more for Flacco's services. How often does a former Super Bowl MVP become available?
Well … another interesting part in this whole equation is the availability of Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles. Foles will have a $20.6 million cap hit next year, per Spotrac, and the Eagles are expected to trade him, per many reports.
The game of musical chairs that ensues will be interesting, but the top landing spots for Flacco or Foles are generally seen as the Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins and New York Giants.
Of the four, Bleacher Report's Brad Gagnon believes Flacco makes more sense than Foles for the Jags, Redskins and Giants. NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah is keeping an eye on Denver though.
"That's one that made sense. We'll see what happens with Case Keenum going forward," Jeremiah said. "[Flacco] has that big arm; you think about John Elway having seen it up close."
The End of Another Era: Ozzie Newsome's
Lost in the shuffle of Sunday's loss, was that it sadly marked the end of Ozzie Newsom's tenure as the Ravens' general manager.
He'll still be around, so we can save some tears, but it still is the turning of a page.
The Undefeated's Jerry Bembry wrote about Newsome and his impact on the Ravens, and I encourage you to give it a read. Bembry got the perspective of many Ravens players in the locker room, as well as Harbaugh, on what Newsome has meant to the franchise.
"In my opinion, he's the greatest GM in the history of football," Harbaugh said Sunday. "He's made the Ravens who they are."
- Let's just say that Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey did not enjoy last night's National Championship game with Clemson beating Alabama, 44-16.
- In the snap-count analysis from Sunday's loss, tight end Nick Boyle had a season-low 18 snaps and running back Gus Edwards had 21, which was below his norm after taking over as the starter. "[That tells] you how much the Ravens went away from their power running game," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker.