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Late For Work 3/7: Flacco, Birk Talks About To Enter Next Phase

Don’t expect free-agency fireworks in Baltimore. Market about to add more players.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 at 8:54 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Flacco, Birk Talks About To Enter Next Phase

The last time Ravens brass met with Joe Linta, Joe Flacco’s agent, no numbers were exchanged.

No talk of ballpark salary figures, no potential contract lengths, nothing of the sort.

“We just wanted to make sure that he was really as valued as much as we thought he was,” Linta said at the NFL Scouting Combine last week. “It was very clear to me that everybody in their organization from the owner on down feels that way and is committed to him as their franchise quarterback. This was just confirmation for us.”

Now that he has confirmation, the negotiation process for a long-term deal is “about to enter the next phase,” says Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson.

Linta confirmed to Wilson yesterday that he will meet with the Ravens again in the next seven to 10 days to follow up on that preliminary meeting and discuss the futures of Flacco and his other Ravens client, Matt Birk.

If numbers are discussed in this round of meetings, Linta’s starting price for Flacco could be $15 million per year, reported NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora.

How close the Ravens are to that [$15 million] number initially could dictate the tenor of these negotiations,” La Canfora said last week at the combine. “Does it happen quickly? Does it play out over the entire spring and summer?

“If they come in around $13 or $14 million, then you’re in the same ballpark. If they’re closer to $10 million, then you’re talking about a very different negotiation.”

Meanwhile, Birk, 35, is an unrestricted free agent who has decided against retirement and could command interest in the free-agent market.

He has made it clear he wants to return to Baltimore, however, where he was reportedly paid $3 million last year.

“Matt’s desire is to remain with the Ravens, if a deal can be reached,” Linta told Wilson. “We’ll be talking with them.”

Don’t Expect Free-Agency Fireworks In Baltimore

The 2012 free-agent class was “sapped” of much of its top talent after a whopping 21 teams used their franchise tag to keep key players another year.

La Canfora believes the domino effect of so many tagged players is that some record-setting deals will go to players who typically would have to wait for the second wave of the process.

“Ample teams have cap space to burn,” he wrote.

While the Ravens are in a decent cap position, they don’t have space to burn.

Their top priorities are to sign Flacco, running back Ray Rice and guard Ben Grubbs to long-term deals, and after all that is wrapped up (if it gets wrapped up), there won’t be that much money left over for targeting big names on the market.

That means players to drool over like defensive end Mario Williams or receivers Vincent Jackson and Marques Colston aren’t likely prospects for Baltimore.

“Other teams are going to generate headlines for plunging into the top of the market and coming away with big names, but the Ravens already have their star players for the most part; they’re more in need of adding supporting cast members such as Cory Redding or Bernard Pollard, or retaining their top players, such as Grubbs,” wrote CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg.

“It’s a blueprint that has worked for them for quite awhile, and there’s every reason to believe they will continue to follow it.”

Market About To Add More Players

If the Ravens will be targeting supporting cast members in free agency, as Eisenberg believes, there could be many more to choose from by the time the market doors open Tuesday.

“Keep in mind there will be a decent number of quality players released by the end of the week for salary-cap purposes,” wrote CBSSports.com’s Pat Kirwan.

The Raiders, Giants, Panthers and Lions are all still over the salary cap and must get under it in the next six days. Kirwan adds that six other teams have less than $9 million in cap space.

So pay attention to the cuts that will occur over the next few days, as General Manager Ozzie Newsome and his staff will, starting this afternoon with Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

Billick Implies Bounties Never Occurred In Baltimore

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis officially took responsibility and apologized yesterday for the bounty system they allowed to take place in their locker room.

As fans around the league wonder whether their team will ever have to issue a similar apology, Ravens faithful can take comfort in Brian Billick’s recent remarks on ESPN Radio, as transcribed by CSNBaltimore.com.

“Clearly that is not going to happen going forward. I don’t know that it happened in the past,” Billick said.

Adding, “As a head coach … you can’t in any way sanction those kinds of things.”

Billick coached the Ravens from 1999 through 2007, and his remarks seem to imply he never let such a system take place under his watch.

He added that there does need to be a distinction between bounties to injure a player and cash pools used to encourage teammates to make standout defensive plays like sacking a quarterback or forcing a fumble.

The latter is considered a long-time legal practice.

“We have to be careful about throwing out terms. There’s a big difference between saying, ‘We want to move the quarterback off the (throwing) spot,’ and ‘We want to put him out of the game,’” Billick said. “Someone is going to have to come up with another term for that.”

Quick Hits

  • EA Sports has once again decided to let fans pick who will grace the cover of “Madden NFL.” They’ve added another element to the voting process this year. Fans will have to vote on which player they want to represent their team in the eventual 32-man bracket. You can for vote Rice or Terrell Suggs in the teammate versus teammate play-in round on SportsNation’s Facebook page. And if you believe in the Madden curse, you may want to vote for the player you think the Ravens could most afford to lose to injury. Good luck with that. [Facebook]
  • Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic look ahead to the Ravens’ offseason in “Two-A-Days.” What should Baltimore expect from Joe Flacco in 2012? [ESPN]
  • I’m not sure why, but Rice and Haloti Ngata are juggling in the video below. Again, I’m not sure why, but it’s a ‘lil fun to watch. [YouTube]

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