Transcripts: Joe Flacco Contract Extension Press Conference

Ozzie Newsome opening statement:

"OK, thanks for coming out on such short notice. Today Joe Flacco signed a three-year extension with us, which provides him the opportunity to play here in Baltimore for the next six years. I want to take the time to thank the people that did the majority of the work, in [senior vice president of football administration] Pat [Moriarty] and [agent] Joe Linta. But not only for the work that they've put in on this contract, but the other contract [in 2013]. It's a lot of man hours when you're dealing with a contract of this magnitude; it cannot be easy, and I just applaud both of them for the work that they did. From my perspective, last year during the season, for every player that was on the [gameday] program, I was asked to put together some notes and some thoughts about their career, and as I was thinking – as I was walking down today – I think the thoughts that I used when Joe [Flacco] was on the cover, was that on his shoulders stand the success of this organization over the last eight years. There are not many opportunities that you can draft a quarterback and for him to have the success that he – along with John [Harbaugh] – have had in the first eight years of their career. In spending time with numerous GMs [general managers] over the last week up 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, and we're fortunate to have one. So, in my mind, having Joe for the next six years, I think his best football is still ahead of him. We know that some of the better quarterbacks in the league played their best football when they got into their 30s. I'm looking forward to that, and thanks, Joe and John."

John Harbaugh opening statement:

"The only thing I can say at this point in time is the appreciation as a coach – and on behalf of our coaching staff, and I would also say the rest of the players that we have – for the fact that this was accomplished. It's an exciting time. It's an exciting time for us as a football team, for Pat [Moriarty] and Joe Linta to get this done, for Joe Flacco to feel like it was important to put us in a situation where we continue to build our football team and become better. And the fact that he wanted to be here and be a Raven for the long term – to be a partner with the organization, just to go to battle with all of us once again – is really exciting, because the thing I've learned about Joe over the course of the last eight years is that no matter what you go through, no matter whether it's the highest pinnacle of success or whether it's disappointment after a loss, no matter what, you're going to get Joe Flacco's best. He's going to stand up and put it on his shoulders. He's going to show up every single day. He's going to work hard. He's going to be positive. He's going to lead, and he's going to play at the highest level. And like Ozzie [Newsome] just said, I believe that's only going to get better because of how hard he works. And then the last thing, you see him in here every single day, when you're faced with this kind of adversity physically, to see him go to work as hard as anyone has ever done with this injury and have a smile on his face and just be excited and happy to be here and be a part of it, it just speaks to how motivated he is going forward. So, I couldn't be happier as a football coach, and it's just an exciting time for us."

Joe Flacco opening statement:

"When it comes to me, I'm just grateful for everybody up here, grateful for Ozzie [Newsome], John [Harbaugh], Steve Bisciotti [and] everybody just working to get this thing done, because when it comes down to it in this league, it's all about winning football games. And once this thing is signed and over with, that's all that we're worried about. I think that this gives us the best chance to move forward, and over the next five years, six years, it's a huge window to go win another Super Bowl – another two, another three, whatever it may be. At the end of the day, that's our goal, and that's what I want to do; and I want to do it here. So, to be able to do this is just huge for the way I feel about this city, the way I feel about this organization, and I can't wait to get back out there on the field after going through all this and seeing how much work it takes to get back out there and feel 100 percent. I can't wait until September comes rolling around and we're back out there battling again."

Ozzie, does this mean you're going to be here the next six years, too? (Stan White)

(NEWSOME) *"I just know I'll be here tomorrow." *(laughter)

* *

Ozzie, the way the first deal was structured, you kind of knew after three years, you would have to come to this point. Is the way the new deal is structured, is this more like  a six ... Is it able to structure where you won't have to keep addressing it, it's more structured as a six-year deal? (Jamison Hensley)

*(NEWSOME) *"You all don't believe me, but we could have not had to do this deal. But it was something that Joe [Flacco] and Joe [Linta] wanted to do and something Steve Bisciotti wanted to do. That's why we were able to do it, and there are going to be some benefits from that. But is the deal flatter? Yes. Going forward, it's a very flat deal, especially with the rise of the salary cap as we've seen over the last couple years, but the deal is a lot flatter. And if he wins three Super Bowls in a row, then we might have to revisit this thing. I don't know." *(laughter) *

Joe, Ozzie just said it was something you wanted. Can you talk about that? Why was this important to you? (Jeff Zrebiec)

*(FLACCO) *"It's important to me because I want to win football games, and you don't do that by having a quarterback and a quarterback only. Football is the ultimate team sport, and a lot of times, in my mind, I almost view the quarterback as one of the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth positions I think about. You want to have a solid offensive line, a solid defensive line. You want to have guys that can go out and make plays, and there's a commitment in this building to winning football games. And you do everything you can in order to do that. That's not to say that we didn't already have that or couldn't already go out there and do that. But, you understand that there are certain strains put on organizations from different things, and like I said, my biggest priority is winning and going out there and being the best football player I can be for the rest of my career; and I want a little help. I want to go out there, and I just want to win another Super Bowl. I remember how good that feels, and I can think back as to, kind of, how jealous I am of other guys this year, and the year before that, that were playing in that game. And this year, I had to go to it and watch it, and that's not very fun. I want to be there playing in it again, and that's really the main priority."

Joe, John spoke of you as more of a partner. Can you talk about the relationship you two have had, obviously, coming into together and the way that's grown and what it means to have that stability? And how important is that for you when you say, "Yes, I want to be here."? (Pete Gilbert)

*(FLACCO) *"Yes, it's unbelievable. Me and John [Harbaugh] – the amount that I've grown and he has grown and we've grown together in the last eight years is [unbelievable]. I can't believe it has been eight years, to be honest with you, but it really is; it's unreal. We got here at the same time, and we had a goal. And we've reached a lot of those [goals], and we haven't reached some still. And we want to go out there and make sure we can do it. At the end of the day, I want him to be here for 20 years, and I want myself to be here for 20 years. Then, he can decide whatever he wants to do, and I'll decide whatever I want to do. Then we can call it quits after that. But the relationship that we've really developed has been really cool, just being able to [play for] somebody you can have an honest conversation with and bounce things off and feel like you're getting somewhere with, it's awesome."

I was wondering if you could both, John and Joe, reflect, as I did driving over here, how you got thrown into the starting quarterback role almost immediately, and John, what you thought of that when you look back on it now. Was that the best thing for Joe to just get tossed in there? (Stan Charles)

*(HARBAUGH) *"It's amazing. Joe [Flacco] just mentioned, it seems like eight years have flown by; [2008] seems like yesterday. The days are long, but the years are short. It does seem like just yesterday. But then you look at all the things we've been through, down the road and all the water that has been under the bridge and stuff like that. It's an incredible thing to even think back to that moment in St. Louis when Kyle Boller had a shoulder injury. *(Reporter: "And Troy [Smith] had the tonsillectomy.") *"Yes. Troy had the tonsil deal, and [current head certified athletic trainer] Mark [Smith] and [former head certified athletic trainer] Bill [Tessendorf] came in and said, 'Hey, Joe is your quarterback.' It's like, 'Well, I guess the decision is made then!' *(laughter) *That's the way it's going to go. But you have these plans. We probably had so many conversations with Ozzie [Newsome] about when we draft Joe, and what's the best way to get him ready and bring him along? You look at all the different quarterbacks over the years and how they were thrown in there or not thrown in there or waited, and we thought maybe we'd ... Maybe we had a way we were going to do it. *(laughter) *God said, 'You know what? No. We have other plans.' It was definitely the best thing. It was the best thing for our football team. We won a lot of football games with Joe as a rookie and since. So, sometimes it's better to let things play out, I guess, and that's the way it worked out."

Joe, can you respond to that, too? (Stan Charles)

*(FLACCO) *"I always felt like it would be best for me to play right away, just knowing myself and how I feel like I would react to the situations. I honestly don't think you can go back and answer, 'Is that the best thing?' But, I can tell you from ... I can just kind of make a little analogy. There are times where you ... Say I end a game with three touchdowns and an interception, and I don't want that interception, but we ended up winning the game. Say we ended up winning the game on a last-minute drive, I wish I could go back and take back that interception. But at the end of the day, I wouldn't do it, because who knows if we would have had the ball at the end there. I think so many good things have happened here in the last eight years, that I would never go back and change anything. Therefore, I believe that, yes, it was the best thing. It was the best thing for myself, it was the best thing for the organization, and I'm happy the way it turned out."

Joe, you mentioned that doing this contract restructuring was important for you and to the team. Is there a sacrifice to doing this? Do you give up something to have to go through this? (Mark Viviano)

*(FLACCO) *"It's tough to say you give up anything when you're signing these kinds of deals. *(laughter) *I mean, come on, I'm sure, yes, there are a couple things I could probably pick at and say, 'Man, I wish you guys could have done this and that,' but no. I do have to say though, this thing happened pretty quickly, from my point of view, and I was telling John [Harbaugh], I think, this morning, I took a couple days to at least sleep on it, because this only happens three times in a career, two times, whatever it might be. I had to sit back and really remind myself what a big deal this is and what a big decision this is and all that. So no, I'm as happy as can be. Like I said, I'm not going to think about this another day past today."

Ozzie, when you see some of the deals yesterday for quarterbacks whose resumes aren't as good as Joe's, does this hammer home the contract and the guarantee of another six years with Joe today? (Brett Hollander)

*(NEWSOME) *"Joe is our quarterback, and we're proud – I'm proud – to be able to say that; and I think everybody in this organization is. Like I stated before, teams struggle with the quarterback position. Philly signing [Sam] Bradford and Washington having to put the franchise tag on [Kirk] Cousins [are examples]. They don't have the resume that Joe has, and for us to be moving forward with a guy that has eight years and won a Super Bowl and been in three AFC Championship games, it speaks volumes."

* *

Joe, with this deal, like you said, it's a pretty big deal, money-wise. You mentioned last time you signed one, it was kind of a matter of respect. Obviously getting money is nice, but is also being included in the [top tier] important to you to have that stature at all? (Jamison Hensley)

*(FLACCO) *"There are so many things that are more important nowadays. You're not going from being a first-, second-, third- [or] fourth-year guy in the league and really trying to make a living out of it and trying to prove yourself as a good player. The jump from that point to that second contract, that's a huge jump. You have really done something at that point. And at this point, there are so many things that are more important, and the money, no matter what it is, it's going to be such a small percentage … You want to win. Like you guys have been saying, you want to be a partner in the team. You want to feel like that. And I think you realize that that's the stuff that ends up being more important than anything."

Ozzie, there was so much buildup to this deal – people were talking about it for months and predicting what was going to happen. Were you surprised with how quickly things came together? (Jeff Zrebiec)

*(NEWSOME) *"No, not really, because I think when you approach a deal where both parties are looking to find a compromise, to find a way to make it fair, then you have a chance to get something accomplished. Having been around Joe Flacco for the last couple of years, to watch him grow and mature and become a leader on this football team, I think Joe wanted to be here and be a part of this. And I think that had a lot to do with it. But, the other side of it, [Joe] Linta and Pat [Moriarty] have done not only deals on Flacco, but a lot of deals on other players, so they've been to the table before against each other. So, I think all of those factors were there. What was being written and said, I don't think Joe and Joe and Pat and I, we didn't pay any attention to it, because I think we knew the relationship that we had between both parties."

Ozzie, did you learn anything this past year about who is the right guy to back up Joe Flacco or what type of guy is the right guy to be there? (Stan Charles)

*(NEWSOME) *"You want the best player. We saw a number of starting quarterbacks go down, including Joe last year, so you want the best player – a player that can go out and help you win football games. Look what Tyrod [Taylor] did with Buffalo. And we feel very good about [Ryan] Mallett; that's why we put the additional year on his contract. But, as we move forward, hopefully for the regular season and the playoffs and the Super Bowl, that Joe Flacco is the guy under center. It was different to walk out to a practice and Joe Flacco not being under center for me this past year. It was very different."

Joe, how is the knee? How is the rehab coming? (Bruce Cunningham)

*(FLACCO) *"I don't have anything to compare it to, but I feel like it's going really well. I'm coming in here every day and doing what they tell me to do, and I think that's really all I can do at this point. I don't have any real outlook on what the future is going to bring, but I know that I'm attacking it 100 percent every day and doing the best I can, and that's going to be good enough. I'm going to be back out there and I'm going to be healthier than ever and stronger than ever."

Joe, to be at this point, has it made you put even more attention on your part as to who your left tackle is going to be? Given that you're coming off this injury? And Ozzie, is that an even greater point of emphasis with your quarterback coming off of a serious injury? (Mark Viviano)

*(FLACCO) *"I honestly don't give too much thought to it. I have complete trust on Sundays with every single guy that's out there. If you don't, then you don't stand any shot. I don't even think about that stuff. You just don't as a player. God forbid, if I get hit in my left knee again and it collapses in and gets shattered again, that's the nature of football. I don't want that to happen, but that's what I signed up for when I stand back there every single play. I don't think who you have at left tackle, I don't think that really plays into the fact that it's kind of just a freak thing where it happens every now and then. It's just one of those things."

*(NEWSOME) *"And from my standpoint, we want to put the best 10 players around Joe – not just one particular position, but the best 10 players that we can."

Ozzie, I know you said that you didn't have to do this deal from a cap standpoint, but how important is this for both this offseason and also long-term knowing you won't have a spike a few years down the road when you're trying to work out other contracts? (Luke Jones)

*(NEWSOME) *"It's going to be beneficial this year if there are some players that become available that we like, or the ability to retain some players from our current roster. But we did not do a deal to gain cap room. We did a deal so Joe Flacco could be on this football team for the next six years. That was probably the most important thing that Pat [Moriarty] and I and Joe [Flacco] and Joe [Linta] were working towards. The cap will take care of itself. But is it going to be helpful? Yes. We know what the number is, we have a good idea, some idea, how the cap is going to spike over the next couple of years, and part of us getting back to and winning Super Bowls is putting the best team on the field, and we already have one with our starting quarterback in Joe."

Ozzie, with this team spending many years trying to find the franchise quarterback, do you feel like you have a greater appreciation once you find one and you want to hold on to him as long as possible? (Jamison Hensley)

*(NEWSOME) *"Like I stated earlier, I just spent about five days with [general managers] that are looking for a Joe Flacco, and they're not sleeping at night, I can tell you. And we did that, and no one can appreciate a good quarterback [as much as] Ozzie Newsome can after going through what we went through. I learned a lot of lessons along the way of what a good quarterback really is."

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