When the Joe Flacco contract was signed with for an astounding $120.6 million dollars in 2013, he had just acquired a Super Bowl ring and a Super Bowl MVP trophy after gambling on himself for the 2012 season. Flacco and the Ravens had been at an impasse the previous offseason while trying to determine how much money was going to be involved in a new deal, and things undoubtedly worked out in Flacco’s favor.
But is his contract, which (briefly) made Flacco the highest paid player in the NFL, the worst quarterback contract in the NFL? Bill Barnwell at Grantland certainly thinks so, declaring Joe Flacco the starting quarterback on his All-Bad Contracts team.
Barnwell gives Flacco the nod over Sam Bradford, who we think is easily the most overpaid quarterback in the NFL right now. Barnwell’s decision is based on the Raven’s inability to get out of the contract if things go south before 2017, and the massive cap hit due in 2016 of $28.6 million. In 2017, the Ravens will owe Flacco $31.2 million unless they cut him, in which case they will have to eat $15.3 million in dead money.
At first glance, these are obviously astounding numbers for a guy who has been good, but not great during his tenure in the NFL. But there are a lot of other factors at play here. Huge contracts for quarterbacks are the norm right now, a necessity perpetuated by the lack of talent at the position. Teams really have no option but to pay these guys when they prove to be serviceable. The other option is losing a lot of games.
Secondly, these huge numbers are handed out but rarely do guys play through the entire contract. Contracts like this are back loaded for a reason, and that is because teams typically restructure with one or two years left. The same thing is happening right now with Ben Roethlisberger. And Eli Manning. As quarterbacks age, team want to keep their options open. They can use declining play and advancing age as leverage to restructure.
Flacco is younger than those guys, so the Ravens can afford to plan on him holding down the quarterback position until at least 2017. He may never be Peyton Manning, but he has proven himself to be a better than average quarterback at the very least. And in today’s NFL, that is enough to make you very rich.