The Ravens have three options with Joe Flacco: give him a long-term contract, franchise him or give him the exclusive-rights franchise tag.
If they give him the exclusive rights franchise tag, it would cost the team $20 million, but Flacco could not negotiate with other teams. If he’s franchised, he’d earn $14.5 million, but another team would almost certainly swoop in and offer him a contract, which the Ravens would then either have to match or surrender him for two first-round draft picks. If the Ravens give Flacco a long-term deal, his salary would likely fall somewhere in between those two figures.
Unfortunately for Baltimore, they’re already $5 million over the salary cap without Flacco. That’s why Peter King for Sports Illustrated says “Don’t be so sure of that exclusive tag.”
King says the best option for the Ravens would be sign Flacco to a back-loaded long-term deal with cap-friendly figures for 2013 and 2014. The Ravens have until March 4 to franchise him. Free agency starts on March 12, so no other team would be able to negotiate with the quarterback until then.