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Late For Work 6/28: 5 Best & Worst QB Contracts ... Joe Flacco Makes One List


5 Best & Worst QB Contracts … Joe Flacco Makes One List

Yesterday, quarterback Joe Flacco got some serious love from the NFL Network when it ranked his 2012 playoff run as the best postseason performance of all-time. Today, his contract is getting serious criticism from Pro Football Focus (PFF).

The statistical website kicked off a series that ranks the best and worst contracts at each position, starting with the most overpaid quarterbacks. In PFF's estimation, the three-year contract extension Flacco signed in March makes him the second-most overpaid quarterback in the league behind Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

"Joe Flacco is another Super Bowl-winning quarterback who is getting paid more-so because he won a ring, rather than for how well he's expected to perform going forward," wrote PFF's Nathan Jahnke.

That is false.

Maybe Jahnke doesn't expect much from Flacco in the future, but the Ravens certainly do, which is why they gave him the extension. The 31-year-old quarterback is scheduled to be in Baltimore through 2021, giving him a huge window to bring home another Lombardi trophy during his prime years.

I'm not bashing Jahnke's rankings; he has reasonable logic behind it. Flacco leads the league in average salary per year among quarterbacks at $22.1 million, with Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers ($22 million), Seattle's Russell Wilson ($21.9 million) and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger ($21.9 million) to follow. I think Flacco himself would admit he hasn't played like the best quarterback in the league the last couple of years.

Flacco's passer rating of 83.1 last year before getting hurt was the worst for quarterbacks with at least 400 dropbacks, per PFF. In 2013, his 73.1 pass rating was the worst for quarterbacks with at least 600 dropbacks.

"[T]here is some reason to believe Flacco could return to being an above-average quarterback—like he was as recently as 2014—but he has the highest average cap hit per year for any quarterback, and he has never played close to that level," Jahnke wrote.

But passer ratings and dropbacks are not the sole criteria for judging a contract. Jahnke ignores the real reason the Ravens re-signed Flacco, and it's because he's a winner … especially in January. Flacco's 85 wins (including playoffs) rank fourth among starting quarterbacks since he entered the league in 2008. He's also racked up the most playoff wins (10) of any quarterback in the NFL since he was drafted.

Nobody said it better than the man who actually gave Flacco his check.

"On his shoulders stands the success of this organization over the last eight years," General Manager Ozzie Newsome said after Flacco signed his new contract in March. "There's not many opportunities that you can draft a quarterback and for him to have the success that he, along with John [Harbaugh], have had over the first eight years of their careers. In spending time with numerous GMs over the last week over at the combine, they all dread the day when they don't have a quarterback, and what you do to have to go and get one. We're fortunate to have one. In my mind, having Joe for the next six years, I think his best football is still ahead of him."

PFF's 5 Best Quarterback Contracts1. Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills (average remaining cap hit: $3.1 million)
2. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers ($21.1 million)
3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers ($20.4 million)
4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks ($20.6 million)
5. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals ($15.8 million)

PFF's 5 Worst Quarterback Contracts
1. Eli Manning, New York Giants (average remaining cap hit per year: $22.3 million)
2. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens ($25.1 million)
3. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys ($23.6 million)
4. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions ($22.3 million)
5. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers ($19.1 million)

Most Team-Friendly Contract: Justin Tucker

While we're talking about contracts, ESPN picked out the most team-friendly deal for each of the league's 32 franchises. For the Ravens, the $4.5 million franchise tag for 2016 currently makes kicker* *Justin Tucker’s contract the best, says Mike Sando.

"The franchise tag gives the Ravens a manageable way to avoid paying bigger money to Tucker on a long-term deal," Sando wrote. "The tag could let them keep Tucker for two years and about $10 million -- not bad if the Ravens consider Tucker to be the NFL's best at his position."

Tucker and the Ravens are optimistic about reaching a long-term deal before franchise tag sticks for good on July 15, however, and it would likely lower the cap number even more for at least this season. Many believe Tucker will become one of the highest-paid kickers in the league, and might even top the list.

"I’m optimistic and hopeful that something will get done," Tucker said at OTAs earlier this spring.

"As far as I'm concerned and everybody is still concerned, there's still plenty of time to get something locked in. And that is absolutely the goal – to get something locked in."

Fantasy Value Of Ravens Wide Receivers

Fantasy season is around the corner, so experts are starting to give an early look at the value offered by players across the league.

ESPN's Eric Karabell takes a look at the Ravens receiver corps and says none of them should be ranked among the top 40 fantasy players at the position.

"[I]t looks like no Raven is guaranteed to be chosen at all in the first five rounds of a standard, 10-team draft," Karabell wrote. "Running back Justin Forsett, a question mark himself after failing to match his breakout 2014 campaign and also coming off a broken arm, should go first off the board, but after the top 50. Other challengers for the running game are intriguing, but when it comes to wide receiver … good luck."

There are just too many unknowns for a fantasy owner to invest too much into Ravens receivers, but when they do starting coming off the board, Karabell ranks them in the following order:

Steve Smith Sr.: "No NFL wide receiver is older, but I believe he'll be relevant as a fill-in receiver, probably your fifth or sixth in standard leagues."

Kamar Aiken: "Despite approaching 1,000 receiving yards last year, he didn't crack the top 30 for wide receivers in standard scoring. And it's unlikely he will this year. But yeah, if I want safety for a final receiver, he fits. Smith still has more upside, however."

Mike Wallace: "He remains a deep threat, but the threat seems minor, and he's on my list of overrated players. I'll let someone else invest."

Breshad Perriman: "Perriman is the first Ravens wide receiver I'd roster in a dynasty league, but nobody knows if he'll truly be ready for action in September, or at all. The Ravens aren't likely to push him, either."

Chris Moore: "A fourth-round selection from Cincinnati, Moore is another fast athlete who stretches the field, but one would think Wallace will be given every chance to shine before Moore gets major snaps. I'd invest in a dynasty league, but Moore wouldn't be one of the first 10 wide receivers to consider there, and he's behind Wallace."

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