Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome plans to have options at his disposal in free agency regardless of whether he's able to work out a contract extension with quarterback Joe Flacco.
"We are in a position that we can be very active in free agency without having to get something done with Joe," Newsome said Wednesday during his podium session at the combine.
The team's chief negotiator Pat Moriarty is reportedly set to meet with Flacco's agent Joe Linta this week at the combine to work on hammering out a new deal. Flacco is only heading into the fourth year of a six-year contract, but his salary cap number is set to balloon to $28.5 million this season after being relatively low the last three years.
That hit is a big reason the Ravens are pressed so tight against the cap, and the Ravens could lower that number by working out an extension with Flacco that flattens out the cap hit over the remaining years of a deal.
That scenario could be a win-win where Flacco gets an extension and the Ravens free up money to spend in free agency.
"If that possibility happens, it will be good both for the Ravens, and for Joe Flacco," Newsome said.
Flacco has already said he's open to renegotiations and that he wants to help put the Ravens in a position to win. The key is striking the right balance with what his agent is asking and what the Ravens can afford.
"I want what's fair," Newsome said. "I think any time you're dealing with a player, I have the best interest of Steve [Bisciotti] and the Baltimore Ravens. And the player has the best interest of himself, and we have to find that happy medium. And when we do, it works out good for everybody."
Extending Flacco isn't the only way for Newsome to free up space under the salary cap. The Ravens could also end up cutting or trading other players to make room – just like they did last year with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata – and the Ravens have two weeks to make those moves before free agency opens.
"This is the time of the year where we make tough decisions," Newsome said. "Between now and March 9, we will make some."