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Ravens likely will gamble with Flacco, again


In 2012, the Ravens gambled on quarterback Joe Flacco and lost. By winning the Super Bowl.

Now, another gamble could be coming, with higher stakes and a lower reward.

The Ravens must decide by March 4 whether to use the exclusive or non-exclusive version of the franchise tag on Flacco. The non-exclusive tag will entail a tender of roughly $14.6 million for 2013. The exclusive level would push the tender, under current calculations of 2013 quarterback cap numbers, to $20.464 million.

In addition to the cap-dollars gap of nearly $6 million, the exclusive tag would, if Flacco opted to sign the tender and adopt a one-year-at-a-time approach, translate to more than $80 million over the next three seasons.

The current speculation, buzz, rumors (whatever) at the Scouting Combine point to the Ravens using the non-exclusive tag while negotiations on a long-term deal continue. The Ravens then would request, hope, pray (whatever) that Flacco would bring any other offer sheet he gets back to the Ravens before signing it.

This strategy would entail plenty of risk. It’s one thing to ask, hope, pray (whatever) that Flacco would bring back an offer sheet before signing it. It’s quite another for Flacco to do it -- especially if any team that plans to pursue Flacco realizes that a full-court press must be employed, aimed at getting Flacco to sign an offer sheet the Ravens can’t or won’t match.

The chances of Flacco leaving Baltimore remain small; Ravens assistant G.M. Eric Decosta told Pro Football Talk recently that the likelihood is “negligible.” Still, DeCosta declined to commit to the team using the exclusive tag.

If the Ravens roll the dice with the non-exclusive number, the situation then will fall out of their control. And if Flacco signs an offer sheet, the situation then will fall out of his.

And while 99 percent of the media will continue to presume there’s a 100-percent chance Flacco will be back in Baltimore, it’s impossible to lose sight of the one-percent possibility that the Ravens will gamble and lose . . . again.