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Ravens will be forced to use exclusive franchise tag on Flacco


On Joe Flacco, the Ravens rolled the dice and lost. But at least they won a Super Bowl along the way.

Last year at this time, we explained that “Flacco probably needs to win the Super Bowl, and perhaps the Super Bowl MVP trophy” to get the kind of top-five money that agent Joe Linta said Flacco deserved. The Ravens subsequently didn’t make a serious effort to sign Flacco, and now that Flacco has accomplished both objectives, it’s time to pay him.

The floor will be set by the exclusive franchise tag, which based on current numbers could be in excess of $20 million for 2013. Really, there’s no way at this point that the Ravens can use the $14.6 million non-exclusive tag, because plenty of teams would gladly give two first-round picks for a reigning Super Bowl MVP who is still on the front end of his prime.

The Bills, Jets, Browns, Jaguars, Titans, Chiefs, Raiders, Eagles, Vikings, Buccaneers, and Cardinals would all be likely to consider making a run at Flacco. Other teams with entrenched starters would be tempted to at least “evaluate” the possibility.

Even though the Ravens would have the right to match the offer sheet Flacco signs elsewhere, the Ravens can’t take the chance that, for example, Browns CEO Joe Banner will concoct a package that the Ravens won’t be able to absorb into their 2013 salary cap. Which means that Flacco will get either $20 million (or close to it) for one year or a long-term deal based on the leverage that comes from a $20 million cap number in 2013.

The situation could create plenty of stress for the Ravens’ front office. When they’re feeling frazzled, they should just rub their brand-new Lombardi Trophy.