Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 2/6/13
Of the 32 starting quarterbacks around the NFL, only six owned a Super Bowl rings coming into this season. Joe Flacco became the seventh on Sunday. Flacco joined Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger in that elite group with an epic MVP-worthy performance as the Baltimore Ravens took home their second title. As Ravens owner Steve Biscotti, president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh all took their turns hoisting the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday night, though, the man primarily responsible for that Super success stood patiently awaiting his own recognition. After a season filled with consistency concerns and contract debates, Flacco finally silenced his critics once and for all this postseason. He proved that his regular season statistics were irrelevant and gave the sort of clutch performance expected from the likes of Brady, John Elway or even Joe Montana. And just as he played like one of the best quarterbacks in football, now he deserves to be paid like one. There is talk that the Ravens could place the franchise tag on Flacco for next season, which would land him about $14.6 million for next season — almost half of the $29.7 million total he made under his rookie deal. But while the tag number would give him a near $8 million raise over his 2012 salary, Flacco deserves even more than that. The Ravens are in a tough spot financially, as they are already projected at $5 million over next year’s salary cap, and have some key players heading toward free agency this offseason. So, while the Ravens might be in a tough spot to compete at the same high level next season, they need more than anything to lock up the cornerstone even if it comes with a hefty price tag. Just for comparisons sake, Brees is making an average of $20 million per year, Peyton Manning’s number is $19.2 million, while Eli Manning and Brady make just over $15 million annually. Rodgers ($10.8 million) and Roethlistberger ($12.5 million) are on a bit more team-friendly deals, but both also will have to be redone pretty soon. So, at the very least, Flacco should fall somewhere within that range. He may not quite deserve the $20 million of Brees, but he also should be compensated better than the low-ball figure Rodgers is dealing with. Maybe the line draws to Brady and Eli, as that $15 million figure falls just about smack dab in the middle of the two. That number makes the most sense for Flacco and would still allow Newsome a little more wiggle room in terms of building the rest of the roster around him. Flacco doesn’t seem like the money-grubbing type. Sure, he wants to make his money just like the rest of the guys around the league, but I doubt he’d sacrifice the chance at winning for a few [million] more bucks in his pocket. The Ravens have already committed to Flacco, saying their quarterback won’t be going anywhere this offseason, and they would be smart to make sure of that by giving him fair-market value. Flacco has earned every cent he has coming his way this offseason, which could mean something close to a nine-figure deal and most certainly should be in line with his newfound peers in the Super Bowl winners category. Photo via Facebook/Baltimore Ravens Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes  or send it here. Pick Six The six biggest Trendsetters of the past week in the NFL Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore Ravens: Up — His last ride ended with a drive off into the sunset. A great finish to a great career. Jim Harbaugh, head coach, San Francisco 49ers: Down — His older brother got the better of him, and his play-calling on the final drive cost them the game [http://nesn.com/2013/02/jim-harbaughs-play-calling-lacked-creativity-which-led-to-49ers-late-game-letdown/]. Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens: Up — Hey, Ozzie Newsome, see that Super Bowl trophy in your hands? Pay the man. Anquan Boldin, WR, Baltimore Ravens: Up — He might be a cap casualty in Baltimore this offseason, but Boldin likely earned himself one final big contract with his big-time play this postseason. Chris Culliver, CB, San Francisco 49ers: Down He started the week by enraging people with his derogatory comments, and then further infuriated them with his atrocious play. Baltimore Ravens fans: Up – Hundreds of thousands of them showed up to greet their team at M&T Bank Stadium for the celebratory parade. What a great show of pride for their city and their team.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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