Flacco Contract Negotiations To Kick Off This Weekend
Agent Joe Linta said he expects to meet with the Ravens about Joe Flacco's contract this weekend at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, according to ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio.
That's a change from last week when Linta told The Baltimore Sun that he hadn't spoken to the Ravens and there were no plans to meet at the combine.
WNST's Luke Jones characterized the two sides as playing poker over whether negotiations were even necessary, but it finally looks like they'll get together.
What will these negotiations look like?
In Florio's view, the Ravens can't simply restructure Flacco's contract for this year by converting his base salary into a signing bonus because that will only make the cap situation more difficult in 2017 and 2018. If you think a $28.55 million cap hit this offseason is bad, pushing that credit down the line would be even worse.
Instead, Florio says the two sides need to agree to a contract extension that would keep Flacco in Baltimore in 2019 and beyond. That way, the nearly $85 million (plus any additional money in a new deal) left on Flacco's contract can be distributed against the cap through more years. Spreading that money out over five or six years is much more doable than over three years.
"Three years ago, Flacco had all the leverage — and he used every bit of it," wrote Florio. "This time around, Flacco has all the leverage again. Even though he's recovering from a torn ACL, Flacco can simply say, 'I'm fine with the deal we signed,' forcing the Ravens to present him with an alternative that he finds equally palatable.
"What Flacco and Linta do with the leverage is one of the biggest questions of the current offseason. Eventually, the Ravens could simply decide to carry the number and figure out another way to comply with the NFL's annual spending limit."
General Manager Ozzie Newsome has previously said his team would come up with a plan to build a roster with Flacco's cap number exactly where it already is. But, at this point, even if Florio is right about Flacco's leverage, it doesn't seem like the Ravens quarterback wants to put his team in a predicament.
"Come on, I want to win, so I want to do everything we can to get something done," Flacco told WBAL in late January. "I don't know exactly what that is or exactly what that's going to be because we haven't talked about it yet. But I know that that's a huge number and it's not really realistic."
We'll know very soon what will come of the talks in Indy. Free agency opens in less than two weeks, and an agreement, or lack thereof, will likely be decided by then.
"Deadlines typically spur movement, and the clock is ticking for Baltimore to get its salary cap in order," wrote Jones.
Would Cromartie Make Sense For Ravens?
The New York Jets announced the release of cornerback Antonio Cromartie yesterday, and CSNMidAtlantic.com's Clifton Brown explores whether he could be a fit for the Ravens.
It's true that Cromartie fits the Ravens' usual profile as a salary-cap casualty because he won't count against the compensatory pick formula. And, the Ravens don't have a clear-cut favorite to start on the other side of Jimmy Smith.
"However, there are warning signs that Cromartie, who will turn 32 years old in April, is on the decline," wrote Brown. "Despite having 31 career interceptions, he did not have one in 2015 for the first time since 2006. Cromartie is not afraid to take chances, which can lead to making big plays. But that also leaves Cromartie vulnerable to surrendering big plays. According to Pro Football Focus, Cromartie was beaten for seven touchdown passes last season. The Ravens need to prevent more big plays, not allow more."
Brown says the Ravens may consider him later this summer if he's still available and after they've gotten a gauge on other corners currently in the mix.
"But while the Ravens will likely discuss Cromartie's pros and cons, I don't see Cromartie's next stop being with the Ravens," wrote Brown.
Canty Not Retiring, Ravens Don't Have To Release Him To Part Ways
The media buzz around town is that Ravens defensive end Chris Canty is a potential salary-cap casualty. But whether he plays in Baltimore or another city, Canty does not plan on retiring even though he considered it last season.
"I've been taking it year to year for the past four seasons," Canty said on PFT Live (hat tip CSNMidAtlantic.com). "Just as long as I can continue to go out there and play at a high level, I'm going to definitely be out there, because it's a privilege, it's an honor to be a part of the National Football League, it's rich tradition and history.
"I don't take that for granted. It's going to be a situation where they're probably going to have to roll me out of the NFL. I enjoy being in Baltimore. It's a good situation. They love vets down there. So I'm just looking forward to next season."
Canty has one more year left on his contract … sort of. Here's an important note from Russell Street Report's Brian McFarland: If the Ravens want to part ways with Canty, they don't have to release him to do it.
"Canty … will not be released because the Ravens built a team option into his contract, which means that all they need to do is not pick up the option," McFarland wrote. "By doing so, they preserve their ability to consider Canty a loss for comp pick purposes if he signs with another team. Declining Canty's option will create $2.15 million in cap space for the team."
Something Has To Give At Safety Position
The Ravens have A LOT of safeties on their roster, and it stands to reason there won't be room for everyone once the season rolls around. The list includes:
Lardarius Webb (converting from corner)
Will Hill (starter in 2015)
Kendrick Lewis (starter in 2015)
Terrence Brooks (2014 third-round pick)
Matt Elam (2013 first-round pick)
Anthony Levine (core special teams player)
Brynden Trawick (restricted free agent, core special teams player)
"It's too early to start a roster breakdown, because so much can change in the weeks ahead, but the Ravens are going to have to make some hard decisions with their safeties," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
"Plus, team officials talked last month about adding another safety this offseason. I'm not sure where there's room unless a few of the aforementioned safeties are let go."