QB Market Has Drastically Changed Since Flacco's Deal, Yet Is Exactly the Same
It's mind-boggling to see the figures in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's mega deal, and it's a testament to how much the quarterback market has changed … by staying exactly the same.
On Thursday, Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers agreed to a five-year contract reportedly worth $137.5 million, which is the largest deal in NFL history in terms of average annual money, according to NFL.com. It includes the biggest three-year cash total for a new contract, just under $90 million, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Even players who have already earned millions looked at Garoppolo's deal with the proverbial cartoon-popping eyes.
People had a similar reaction when Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco received his $120 million deal in 2013. When he got another extension in 2016, Flacco was again the highest-paid player.
But the quarterback market has already changed so much since then.
"Just 23 months later, Flacco is getting close to dropping out of the top 10," wrote ESPN.
Flacco is now the seventh-highest paid quarterback in the league with an annual average salary of $22.1 million, and he's expected to drop three more spots in the next couple months when Kirk Cousins, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan get new contracts.
And in that way, the quarterback market hasn't really changed at all. Because the highest-paid quarterback doesn't necessarily correlate with the most successful. He just has to prove he can be successful enough for a new contract, and the newest deal is often times the highest deal. Each one must outdo the last.
"As cap room continues to expand, the pay scale for reliable starting quarterbacks is set to skyrocket into new hemispheres," wrote NFL.com's Marc Sessler. "Long underpaid in comparison to, say, even marginal baseball players, the NFL quarterback – the most important position in sports – is entering a golden age of cash-earned glories."
In the case of the Ravens, they gave Flacco a new deal just after he was named Super Bowl XLVII MVP. Many of the quarterbacks that have now leapfrogged Flacco on the pay scale didn't have to ascend to such heights to get their big paydays. Garoppolo has started just seven games in his NFL career.* *
"It can be argued that Flacco's deal is a bargain when considering his playoff success," wrote ESPN. "He's 10-5 (.667) in the postseason while the other six higher-paid quarterbacks are a combined 12-17 (.413). Only Brees has won a Super Bowl like Flacco among the seven highest-paid passers.
"But Flacco still lags far behind in production in the regular season. Flacco finished last season as the NFL's No. 25 rated passer at 80.1. [Alex] Smith, Brees, [Matthew] Stafford and Garoppolo all were in the top 10, and [Derek] Carr was No. 20. [Andrew] Luck missed the entire season with a shoulder injury."
Ravens Shouldn't Completely Neglect Defense; Approached Brent Urban About New Contract
Everyone knows the top priorities this offseason for the Ravens are 1) offense, 2) offense and 3) offense.
Even Owner Steve Bisciotti said last week that the defense is pretty much set from a personnel standpoint, and is mostly looking for more progression from the young players for the unit to improve overall.
"It's certainly the right approach to put the majority of their resources into an offense that was one of the worst in the league for much of last season," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. "It's also long overdue.
"However, ignoring the defense and depending on the maturation of young defensive players who didn't play much in 2017 isn't a wise idea, either. … [I]t's worth remembering that the Ravens weren't a dominant defense in 2017. They were a solid defense, but they also had a few flaws that were exposed late in the year in games the team needed to win to make the postseason."
Zrebiec says there are a few areas that need addressing, including more pressure from the interior of the defensive line, better tight end coverage and finishing down the stretch.
To that end, Zrebiec reported that the Ravens have approached defensive end Brent Urban to discuss a contract that will bring him back to Baltimore. Urban looked primed for a breakout year before suffering a season-ending foot injury in Week 3 last season. His deal could be modest given his injury history.
In addition to a defensive tackle/end, the Ravens can look for a new inside linebacker or hybrid safety that can play next to C.J. Mosley to help cover tight ends.
Zrebiec is not in favor of cutting veteran cornerback Brandon Carr, even though the Ravens are expecting the return of Tavon Young and eventually Jimmy Smith. That position needs a lot of depth given how many injuries occur there annually.
"Adding to the offense, which was largely ignored in the draft last year, needs to be the priority," Zrebiec wrote. "But that shouldn't mean the Ravens completely neglect the defense, especially after a few defensive flaws contributed to the team's demise in 2017."
Ravens Three-Round Mock Draft
NFL.com's Chad Reuter put together a three-round mock draft for all 32 teams, and the Ravens came away with a first-round wide receiver, an edge defender and productive running back.
First Round, No. 16: SMU WR Courtland Sutton
In this scenario, the only other receiver taken before Sutton was Alabama's Calvin Ridley (No. 13, Washington Redskins). Reuter has the Ravens passing on Florida State safety Derwin James, Oklahoma tackle Orlando Brown and Boston College defensive end Harold Landry. "Many may think that this pick is a reach, but the reality is, based on previous drafts, wide receivers will go much earlier than expected," wrote Baltimore Beatdown's Logan Levy in a reaction piece to Reuter's selections.
Second Round, No. 52: LSU DE Arden KeyAfter drafting pass rushers in back-to-back rounds last year with Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams, this would be a surprising pick. That said, Key could be good value in the second round as some scouts say he has first-round ability. His sacking prowess is impressive, but he had a down 2017 and underwent shoulder surgery.
*Third Round, No. 83: Georgia RB Nick Chubb *Despite having a stable of capable running backs – Alex Collins, Danny Woodhead, Buck Allen and the expected return of Kenneth Dixon – the Ravens are open to drafting one if he's a "game-breaker." Does a third-round back like Chubb fit that description? Or will he be another capable back that they can add to the mix? "Chubb is one of many dynamic running backs in this class," wrote Levy.