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Ravens Avoiding Franchise Tag Drama


Monday will be a busy day for some teams around the NFL.

That's the deadline for teams to sign their franchise tag players to long-term contracts, and a few teams will likely be scrambling to lock up their star players.

The Ravens won't be in that bind.

They avoided a franchise tag dilemma back in February when they reached a six-year, $120.6 million contract with quarterback Joe Flacco. Had they not come to terms on a new contract, Flacco would have been franchised while the two sides continued to negotiate. 

That's what the Ravens did last year with running back Ray Rice, and they were one of the teams negotiating right up to the final minutes of the July deadline. Rice and the Ravens reached a five-year deal.

Baltimore has a history of keeping its star players under contract, even if they have to use the franchise tag to buy some time to work out the deals.

Here's a look at the history of the Ravens franchise tag:

2012: RB Ray Rice
Applying the franchise tag to Rice ended up working out for both sides, as the two eventually agreed to a long-term deal. Rice never actually played the season under the franchise tag, and he was a key piece of the team's run to Super Bowl XLVII. Rice has been one of the most productive backs in the league during his career, and he's one of the clear leaders of the team heading into his sixth season.

2011: DT Haloti Ngata
After going to his second straight Pro Bowl, Ngata was tagged in mid-February. Negotiations were then put on hold because of the NFL lockout, but the two sides reached a deal minutes before the Sept. 21 deadline. Ngata signed a five-year deal, reportedly worth $61 million. Ngata has now made four straight Pro Bowls.

2008 and 2009: OLB Terrell SuggsThe Ravens franchised Suggs after the 2007 season, and he responded in 2008 with eight sacks and two interceptions in helping Baltimore to the AFC championship. Suggs was then tagged for a second time, but in July the two sides worked out a six-year contract, reportedly worth $63 million. The deal made him the highest-paid linebacker in NFL history at the time and kept him off the free-agent market.  Suggs responded by winning the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2011.

2003 and 2004: CB Chris McAlister
McAlister logged a career-high 17 pass deflections in 2002 and the Ravens slapped the tag on him the following season. McAlister went on to have a Pro Bowl season in 2003 and he got the tag again before the 2004 season. The Ravens continued negotiating with him through the year and McAlister inked a seven-year, reported $55 million contract in mid-October and went on to have another Pro Bowl year.

1998: G Wally WilliamsAfter spending two years in Baltimore and starting a combined 26 games over that span, the Ravens put the tag on Williams before the 1998 season. He started 13 games that year (seven at left guard and six at center). Afterwards, he signed a reported five-year deal worth $18.5 million with New Orleans. Williams is the only former Raven to be franchised and then not get a new deal with Baltimore.

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