Originally posted on Ravens Football Machine  |  Last updated 2/17/12

INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 16: Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens throws the ball in the second half against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Lucas Oli Stadium on January 16, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)


Joe Linta, who is Joe Flacco's professional agent, is going the extra mile to make sure his client is signed to a long-term deal as the Baltimore Ravens' franchise QB.  Linta is traveling to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine commencing this weekend to get the deal done with Ravens officials in attendance at the week-long event.

“If the game is about wins and losses, he has to be in the top five [quarterbacks],” Linta told Matt Vensel of the Baltimore Sun.  “He is a player who has been extremely durable, never missed a game.  And he’s done something that no one has ever done.  In his four years in the league, he has never missed a game and has more wins than any other quarterback.”

Talks will commence at next week’s Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.  Linta says it will be a “brief chat over coffee,” and not a “Hatfield and McCoy thing.”

“We’re not going to have a press conference next Saturday to announce his extension,” Linta said.  “In order to do Joe Flacco’s contract extension, we have to start somewhere.  And that’s sitting down and chatting, and that’s what we’re doing.”



Ravens brass agrees with Linta – Flacco is durable and he is a winner. General Manager Ozzie Newsome said as much in the season-ending press conference earlier this month.

“The thing that I like about Joe – and I think in the end, when you’re in this business – you are judged on one thing: winning,” said Newsome. “Joe wins. If he continues to win, if one pass is caught, he’d be in a Super Bowl. And I think he’s going to win Super Bowls – a lot of them. And I hope to be a part of them. He has improved. But the thing that you cannot knock about Joe is that he’s a winner.”

Naturally, the questions begging to be answered become: do the Ravens agree that Flacco is a top-5 quarterback, and if so, does that mean he should be paid like one? One can debate ad nauseam who cracks the top 5, and in what order they should be placed, but the following quarterbacks would surely be in the conversation:

Tom Brady, New England Patriots (5 years/$78.5 million/$48.5 million guaranteed)
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts (5 years/$78.5 million/$48.5 million guaranteed)
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (5 years/$90 million/$20 million guaranteed
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (6 years/$65 million/$20 million guaranteed)               
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (7 years/$98.2 million/$38.5 million guaranteed)              
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (7 years/$98.2 million/$38.5 million guaranteed)
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles (5 years/ $80 million/ $32.5 million guaranteed)
Eli Manning, New York Giants (7 years/$106. million/$35 million guaranteed)

Several pundits believe Flacco should command a contract that tops the second tier of quarterbacks (Kevin Kolb, Ryan Fitzpatrick), but shouldn’t reach the top-tier ones.

Either way, it doesn’t seem likely that level of detail will be discussed when Linta and Ravens salary cap guru Pat Moriarty “chat” next week.

“We’ve got a feeling that it will be many Saturdays before an extension is announced, especially if Flacco wants to be paid among the top five quarterbacks in the game,” wrote PFT.com’s Mike Florio. ”We like him and we believe he’s underrated and overcriticized, but to put him with guys like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger seems to be a little premature and/or presumptuous."

I disagree.

Flacco is special. He's a unique talent. He's only in the first third of a hopefully long career, and he already has established himself as a perennial winner. Okay, maybe not the Big One yet, but he has never been the reason the Ravens have come up short in the AFC Championship Game. Joe's making all the throws and all the hot reads. So what if he decides to take a sack or throw out of bounds rather than throw into triple coverage? I say that's a good thing...

Joe will sacrifice his own numbers to benefit the overall game plan. That is called a leader, folks.

Only in the past year has Flacco been given the authority to call his own plays based upon a pre-snap read. Watch him grow from here.

The biggest thing to notice is that over the last two seasons Joe has made more and more strides in recognizing defenses. He has put up respectable and winning-type stats against top defenses while the run game has been here-today and gone-tomorrow,  and the O-line has been inconsistent in protection. And Joe's most reliable receivers were yanked out from his arsenal in 2011.

You can tell yourself that  the Ravens offense was excelling and Joe just wasn't good enough to keep up, but you and I both know that is a damn lie. I'll give a lot of credit to the defense for Joe's regular-season and playoff win record, but Joe's supporting offensive cast has not helped him all that much.  How many dropped passes that hit guys in the numbers do you have to count? He has been the best offensive player in the past two seasons in the AFC playoffs, in my humble opinion.

So Ozzie and Dick Cass, pay the man. Lock him in for the next five seasons. Give him Philip Rivers money. At the very least, he deserves that... because at the very least, Joe Flacco as a pure passer is worth that...and as a team leader, probably more.

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