Late For Work 2/1: Flacco Negotiations May Be Complicated

Johnson compares Pees, Pagano and Rex. No special Alabama treatment, roster bonuses due.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 at 9:15 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Flacco Negotiations May Be Complicated

The question surrounding quarterback Joe Flacco is shifting.

It’s become less about whether the Ravens should sign him to a new deal this offseason – with one year left on his rookie contract – and more about what the deal should look like.

Owner Steve Bisciotti said about 10 months ago that the goal would be to get an extension done before the 2012 season, and he will surely be asked if that is still the target today at the Ravens’ season-ending press conference.

A new contract should “ultimately get done,” Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times wrote. But the negotiations “may be complicated by a difference of opinion between how much the Ravens are willing to pay him and his financial expectations.”

Flacco’s expectations could be shaped by the fact that he is 27 years old and this will be his second contract, usually considered to be the contract with the biggest payout for a quarterback.

“This negotiation will be a significant one in Flacco’s career. It will be quote, unquote the negotiation,” Andrew Brandt, a former agent and NFL executive who now writes for the National Football Post and ESPN, told the Baltimore Sun. “Typically at this stage of a QB’s career, this is where they make significant money, in their second contract in their mid-to-late 20s.”

While Flacco had what many pundits consider an uneven season, he also has 44 regular-season wins – the most by any quarterback in NFL history in his first four seasons. He has also won five playoff games and has advanced to the AFC title game twice.

As The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec points out, the Ravens don’t comment on contract negotiations, and trying to draw parallels between Flacco and other recent quarterback contract extensions is “difficult.”

Here are a few of the most recent:

Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs (2009): 6 years, $63 million, $28 million guaranteed
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills (2010): 6 years, $59 million, $24 million guaranteed
Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals (2010): 5 years, $63.5 million, $21 million guaranteed

“However, a strong case could be made that Flacco has significantly out-performed all three while winning a lot more games in the process,” wrote Zrebiec.

Brandt said Flacco could potentially make the case that he deserves a deal more on the level of the New York Giants’ Eli Manning or San Diego Chargers’ Phillip Rivers, who negotiated deals about 2 ½ years ago and received guarantees that were in the $35 to $38 million range.

“I see the body of work that Joe has put up, especially in the postseason compared to other QBs, and I see the Ravens not ready to stick both feet in the waters yet,” Brandt said. “As I said, this negotiation will be a significant one in Flacco’s career.  And for the Ravens, it will be significant, too. Once they do it, he’s their guy. There is no looking back. Having been a team guy and an agent, I see both sides.”

Johnson Compares Pees, Pagano, Rex

For those looking from the outside in, it’s tough to get a read on Dean Pees, the Ravens’ new defensive coordinator.

Jarret Johnson, who rushed from the airport to attend the announcement of Pees’ promotion, tried to give listeners of 105.7 The Fan a glimpse of what all three men are like.

“A lot of us are really close with Dean, very similar to our relationship we had with Chuck [Pagano] when he was the DBs coach,” Johnson said on The Norris & Davis Show. “So when he got the job, we were really excited.”

While the players were equally as excited when Pagano was promoted, Double J did say that the personalities of Pees, Pagano and Rex Ryan are very different.

Let’s start with Ryan and Pagano.

“Rex was a really good coach, but Rex was more of an emotional coach,” Johnson said. “If you burn him, he’s going to come back and bring the house. If you run the ball, he’s going put as many guys in the box as he could.

“Chuck was an emotional guy, but probably a little more level-headed. Probably the reason he was a little more level-headed was because he had guys like Dean and Ted [Monachino, outside linebackers coach] and CB [Clarence Brooks, defensive line coach] and those guys who were keeping him kind of calm and keeping him kind of restrained.”

Johnson said that Pees already has a more restrained personality by nature.

“The best way to describe him is when you talk to him, every time you have a conversation about football, you learn something about football,” Johnson said. “He’s been around the game forever. … He’s very aggressive, very level-headed. He’s not real, real emotional, even though he does have a good personality.”

J.J.: Ozzie Will Let An Alabama Guy Go ‘In A Heartbeat’

Not much has changed since Johnson, who is set to become a free agent in March, last talked to about his contract situation.

After being drafted by the Ravens in 2003 and playing nine years in Baltimore, he would like to retire a Raven.

But he understands there are capable up-and-coming players behind him, like Paul Kruger, that could perform at a high level. And J.J. has no illusions that he will be re-signed just because he and General Manager Ozzie Newsome share the same alma mater. 

“I have people come up to me all the time and say, ‘Oh, Ozzie’s not going to let an Alabama guy go,’” Johnson said. “Ozzie will let an Alabama guy go in a heartbeat if it’s for the betterment of the team. The thing about Ozzie is that he doesn’t do anything for now. He doesn’t do anything at an impulse or with emotion.”

At this point, Johnson said that it will be the smart thing to enter free agency to explore his options.

If he doesn’t return to Baltimore, the 30-year-old linebacker said he wouldn’t rule out playing for Pagano in Indianapolis.

“Me and Chuck have been very close over the last four years,” he said. “He’s going to attempt to install the same scheme we run here, which I have a pretty good grasp on. It’s a logical thing to think [about playing for the Colts], but we’ll just have to let it play out and see what happens.”

Roster Bonuses Due In March

In a comprehensive offseason free-agency outlook, Wilson writes that the Ravens have roster bonuses due in March to receiver Lee Evans, tackle Bryant McKinnie and strong safety Bernard Pollard.

Wilson foresees McKinnie and Pollard getting their bonuses ($500,000 each), but wonders if Evans would accept a pay reduction in order to return after an injury-plagued season in which he only caught four passes.

“Evans is unlikely to be back at his current scheduled salary of $3.275 million, salary-cap number of $5.607 million and a $1 million roster bonus due on March 18,” wrote Wilson. “Unless he accepts a significant pay reduction, he won’t be back.

“The Ravens are generally pleased with how McKinnie and Pollard performed during their first seasons in Baltimore.”

Quick Hits

  • Turns out, Pittsburgh linebackers coach Keith Butler decided not to interview with Pagano and the Colts for their defensive coordinator opening. Instead, he will remain with the Steelers. It is believed that the Steelers offered a new contract to Butler and perhaps indicated that he will replace Dick LeBeau when he retires. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
  • Trent Dilfer ranked the NFL’s top 40 quarterbacks, and said league perception of each player was a key ingredient in his rankings. Dilfer put Flacco in a tier he calls, “A Ring Away,” meaning he has shown he has the ability to play at an elite level but will need to win a Super Bowl to validate his perception. Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub were also put in this same tier. [ESPN]
  • Peter Schmuck says the Ravens should sign Flacco to a new contract sooner than later. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • @Ravens: #Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti is in the building today, as the front office and coaches are going through big personnel meetings [Twitter]

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