Late for Work 4/4: What to Make of Flacco’s Contract Wishes

Plus anyone else impressed with player workouts? And history says Landry may not return.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Monday, April 4th, 2011 at 9:05 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

What to Make of Joe’s Contract Wishes

While reading message boards this weekend, it was hard not to notice fans debating whether quarterback Joe Flacco’s comments about negotiating a new long-term contract this year, not next year, is a big deal.

Some have wondered if Flacco’s comments be considered out of line? Or is the media making a mountain out of a mole hill?

Re-signing your franchise quarterback is obviously important, which is why any comments on the topic rightfully make news.

But in reality, if we look back in history, we’ll see this sort of thing is normal.

Deciding on when negotiations will take place and how much a player will be paid is part of a typical football process that is usually accompanied by a few comments to the media. Each side has a duty to negotiate and it wouldn’t be fair to deem a team or a player as the “wrong” or “selfish” party for angling for an advantageous deal.

When one considers how the Ravens have handled re-signing star players in the past, it should put worrying minds at ease.

The front office has a history of locking up the players it says it will lockup.  Most recently, the Ravens went on record to say they wanted to re-sign defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, linebacker Ray Lewis and outside linebacker/defensive end Terrell Suggs.

Of course, not every process was perfectly smooth.

If you’ll remember, Lewis played out the final year of his contract and there was some back and forth about the long-time Ravens linebacker taking a “hometown discount.” Lewis ended up signing a deal that will allow him to retire with the team that drafted him. Ravens brass assigned the franchise tag to Suggs twice, and then agreed to a contract that made Suggs the highest-paid linebacker in NFL history.

Ngata has played through his entire rookie contract and the Ravens franchised him in order to buy some time during the lockout before finalizing a new deal. The Ravens are on record saying they want to make the NFL’s best defensive tackle a “Raven for life” and I believe they will make that a reality.

I also believe Owner Steve Bisciotti when he says he doesn’t want Flacco entering the 2012 season playing on the final year of his contract.

For now, however, as two ESPN writers pointed out, there will be other pressing needs once the lockout ends.

“[Flacco] will get his payday in Baltimore,” wrote James Walker. “But it won’t happen this year. Pro Bowl free agent Haloti Ngata waited his turn and has to be the Ravens’ biggest priority.”

Added Tim Kavanagh, “As with any other player, Flacco will have to wait until league business re-opens this offseason, and given that his contract runs through 2012, re-signing players whose contracts expired in 2011 – as well as inking free agents – may be of a higher priority.”

In addition to addressing Ngata once a new collective bargaining agreement is settled, the Ravens will have to act fast on 23 Ravens free agents (both restricted and unrestricted). That includes six starters: cornerback Chris Carr, guard Chris Chester, safety Dawan Landry, fullback Le’Ron McClain, cornerback Josh Wilson and offensive tackle Marshal Yanda.

Having said all that, it’s not like Flacco is the “bad guy” either.

Flacco was at a teammate’s charity event this weekend trying to help raise money for Japan tsunami relief. While at the event, he was nice enough to conduct some media interviews.

Flacco answered an array of questions from his thoughts on helping tsunami victims, to the lockout, to offseason workouts and finally to a new contract. He didn’t show up at the event and ask journalists to gather around because he had a message to get out. He was simply responding to questions.

In his first three years as an NFL pro, Flacco has led the Ravens to the playoffs in as many years. He is now the franchise’s passing leader and had a career year in 2010. A desire to get a better deal than what he received as a rookie isn’t absurd.  And just like any other player, he should feel free to express what value he believes he offers.

Remember too, as The Baltimore Sun reported, Flacco made it a point to say he isn’t gong “to create any trouble” over a new contract. “He just would consider it a sign of faith to start talks as soon as possible,” wrote Jamison Hensley.

With an attitude like that, there really isn’t much to be concerned about. There will be a typical negotiation process that will require both sides to inch toward the middle, but in the end, there’s every reason to be believe there will be a happy ending for both Flacco and Baltimore.

Anyone Else Impressed With Player Workouts?

Usually at this time of year, the Ravens practice facility would be charged up and you could hear weights clanging and music blasting from the Ravens’ weight room.

Of course that can’t happen this year due to the unresolved labor conflict, but I’ve been impressed with the increased tweets from Ravens players who are trying to stay in shape on their own and trying to set up team and position workouts.

Flacco has already spoken with tight end Todd Heap about setting up a throwing session in Arizona and hopes to bring receivers Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason into the mix.

Meanwhile, cornerback Domonique Foxworth and tackle Michael Oher have been scheming on Twitter to see who they could round up for a bigger team meeting.

Group workouts or not, there are players you won’t have to worry about coming back out of shape.

For example, running back Ray Rice has put himself through two-a-days. “First workout complete,” he wrote at 10:45 a.m. one morning last week. “Next one at 12:30.”

A few days later he was up and at ‘em at 7:50 a.m.

Grind Time,” wrote Rice. “If you ain’t on your grind you better believe the next person is so go out and get yours.

Ochcocinco and Lardarius Webb

Here are a few other examples:

DonteStallworth: Just finished 16 90 yard sprints with a time limit of 10 seconds each, 50 second rest in between… Now it’s time to lift

deemason85: Another blessed day people! Headed to therapy for my hand then on to the office aka workout facility! Be well people

ochocinco: Training @bommaritos me and Ladarius

History Says Landry Could Leave

We recently talked about free agent Dawan Landry possibly being in high demand this offseason, especially considering most draftniks believe safety is one of the weakest positions in the 2011 draft.

Hensley took a look at what the Ravens have done with two other starting safeties opposite Ed Reed and concluded, “history isn’t on Dawan Landry’s side to remain with the Ravens.”

The team didn’t re-sign Will Demps when there wasn’t a replacement on the roster in 2005. And they let Jim Leonhard sign with the New York Jets when his contract was up two years ago.

With Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura on the roster as potential replacements, Hensley wrote the Ravens may not feel inclined to “get into a bidding war over Landry.”

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