Thoughts on Joe Flacco’s New Contract

Dan Hanzus of has the particulars as it relates to cash flow on the record setting contract for Ravens QB Joe Flacco. It is certainly quite the deal for Flacco, a player who has yet to throw for 3,900 yards in a season. The QB salaries are getting so out of whack with the rest of the league that at some point you are going to see teams suffer for overpaying good but not great QB’s. Flacco had a miracle playoff run, but a contract like this completely disregards 5 years of performance on the field.

That is not to say that this should be a surprise. A few weeks ago I looked at Flacco and predicted he would get a contract close to $21 million a year. Why?  It was the Eli Manning model. Manning, who had a similar career trajectory but with more draft status cache and a slightly better track record, blew the field away in 2009 when he signed his contract worth $16.25 million a season. Eventually the bigger names like his brother Peyton surpassed that number, but Eli had more of less been the standard mark for a QB that was not considered prolific but had some playoff success.

The difference between Eli then and Flacco now is the new CBA. The new salary cap limit is $123 million and the union had to jump through hoops to even get the number that high. The salary cap limit back when Eli signed his deal was $123 million and growing rapidly. Basically there has been no inflation in the cap but the same player salary has now risen greatly. On an APY basis Manning’s deal was about $13.2% of the cap. Flacco’s is16.3%.  Sure Flacco and the Ravens will manipulate that cap figure this year but at some point it will catch up with them and teams will suffer because they spent far too much money on a position, even one as important as QB. Here are some very early (and totally unofficial) estimates of what Flacco’s deal may look like.

Base SalaryProratedCap ChargeDead MoneyCash Flow

These numbers are assuming that this $7 million dollar option bonus is paid in 2015 and is prorated over the life of the deal. Sure some will say that its a 3 year contract where you simple re-do the deal in 2016, but look at that dead money figure. What leverage does a team have to force any kind of market correction when cutting a player costs nearly $26 million on your cap?  Those backend cash flows are important because it more of less gives Flacco a starting point of $19.5 million a year in a renegotiation. Its really absurd.

In my value price model I worked on, Flacco’s regular season was worth about $11.5 million a year comparative to the current marketplace. That is a ton of ground to make up to justify this contract. Its just amazing the way the QB position has been treated in the last 8 or 9 years, really since Peyton signed his first mega-deal in 2004 with the Colts. Think back to the early 2000s. Players like Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson couldnt cash in. Thats not to say Flacco was along for the ride like they were, its just to point out the way things have changed.  Even Tom Brady could not cash in relative to what others in the league were getting after his Super Bowls.

Green Bay is next up in the crazy QB carousel with a far better QB that is going to look for far more money. They don’t usually give in like this but I would not have expected the Ravens to cave in this badly either. The team that makes out the best in all of this is the New England Patriots who got their QB under a cap friendly contract until he retires. Sure he is much older and likely declining but they have a long term advantage that few teams, unless they have outstanding rookies on their rookie contracts, will be able to match in the salary allotments to field a full roster.


  • LOL. What a joke of an article, but coming from a Patriots fan who is getting used to seeing Flacco kick his team’s ass lately and outplay their darling QB at every turn I would have expected nothing less.

    Ignore the first 5 years? LOL. Flacco is one of the most accomplished QB’s in the history of the NFL in his first 5 years. You want numbers? Or the “stats” that you so desire? Go look them up for the first 5 years, because apparently you never have. Go look up Saint Brady’s first 5 year stats while you are at it, and see what they look like. Go look up every other elite QB and compare them too,m because he is right there with all of them.

    This idea that Flacco was a terrible QB for 5 years and just got hot for one playoff last year run shows how the delusional perspective this article comes from. Nothing could be further from the truth. I know it pains you as a Pats fan to know that there is a QB in Baltimore that is on the rise while yours is fading fast, but the sooner you realize it the better off your “analysis” might be.

    Your “model” that said $11 million is laughable BTW. This is real life not a mathematical equation. This article is a shining example of a “journalist” who can’t separate his personal feelings to be objective in his analysis. Get used to that average QB in Baltimore for the next 10 years ripping your hearts out every year in January, because that is just what he does these days, proving the naysayers wrong at every turn.

    • For the record I cant stand the Patriots. My team has the most overpriced QB in the NFL today- Mark Sanchez. I dont think I ever called Flacco terrible. I compared him to Eli, who will probably end up in the Hall of Fame. I just think the QB salaries as a whole have gotten far too high to justify the impact on the game. Maybe Flacco becomes the next Peyton or Brady but they are banking on that happening based on the salary they will be paying him. Brady never got paid like Peyton until he put up numbers like Peyton. Brees never got paid like Peyton until he put up numbers like Peyton. I think its just the changing dynamics of the NFL. Ben and Eli jumped Peyton because of postseason success but their salaries were more in line with the growing salary cap than Flacco’s, Ryan’s, Stafford’s or Rodgers’ will be. If Flacco wins another Super Bowl like Eli did people will say it was worth it. If not he’ll be getting the same questions Eli got in 2011 when he was asked if he was really an elite level player despite the elite level salary.

      • JK

        It doesn’t matter who your favorite team is. This site is really great and I appreciate all of the work that goes into it.

      • eric peterson

        keep up the good work. i’m a pats fan, and I love the site.

    • medugno

      As a Patriots Fan, I love this deal! I thought Baltimore fans were smarter than
      this, at least on par with Philly fans, but obviously I was mistaken!

      This is a Lose/Lose deal, Flacco will not see a dime over the $52M guaranteed
      and the Ravens Cap is screwed for years to come.

      By the way in Brady’s first five years he won 3 Super Bowls, get a clue loser, since then he owns about 100 NFL records! Flacco is luck to crack the top 10 if you want to talk about stats.

    • The guy who wrote the article is a Jets’ fan.

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  • Skip Van Meter

    Hmm. Flacco’s contract gets so expensive that the Ravens front office must have ideas on how to handle it down the line. One thing about this team: for their core players they always pay well. When Jonathan Ogden was paid in 2000 he got the highest LT contract ever. Same with Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs for their respective positions in the years that they got their 2nd contract. Haloti Ngata was not far from it with his.

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