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. The Ravens would then either have to match the offer or surrender Flacco 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 the Ravens, they’re already $5 million over the salary cap without Flacco. That’s why Peter King of Sports Illustrated says “Don’t be so sure of that exclusive tag.”
King says the best option for the Ravens would be to 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.
King noted that both owner Steve Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome made comments that hinted at letting certain free agents walk.
“We’ve proven it two years in a row that we can kind of shock the world and disappoint our fans at the same time, by letting some of these guys go, but letting young guys fill in and then going out and getting good values on the free-agent market,” Bisciotti said.
Newsome also mentioned he’d like the Ravens to build around a core group of young players.
“We’re trying to build where we can win Super Bowls more than just one more time. I think our team is structured differently this time also,” Newsome said. “We do have some veterans that will probably be retiring, but we have a great nucleus of young players and players that are just heading into their prime that we’re going to build this team around.”
Of course, Flacco could easily be considered among that group of players just entering their prime. But the Ravens will likely be looking to rebuild in 2013, and giving one player a one-year, $20 million deal may not help that process.