Now that the Ravens have signed Ray Rice, they can turn their attention to their negotiations with Joe Flacco -- a very different beast, for sure.
The salary structure for quarterbacks is pro footballs highest, no surprise given the positions importance. The New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees created a new high-end threshold last week with a 100 million deal that includes over 60 million in guarantees and makes him the NFLs first 20 million-a-year player.
Running backs dont make nearly as much.
While Flaccos merits are endlessly debated, the mere fact that he is a young starting quarterback on a winning team guarantees him a significant payday that almost surely will surpass Rices deal.
The fact that he is a bona fide franchise quarterback also gives him more leverage than Rice.
The increasingly pass-happy NFL is quarterback-driven these days. Teams that are set under center are in a much better position to win than teams still searching for the answer. If the Ravens were to let Flacco go, they would be back at square one at his position, where they were before he arrived sorting through retreads and never-weres and crossing their fingers for a little short-term magic.
Its not a great place to be, and you can be sure Flaccos agent, Joe Linta, is well ware of that. The reality of the situation pretty much gives Flacco the upper hand.
Granted, Rice also was (and is) tremendously valuable as a two-time Pro Bowl selection who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2011. But star running backs tend to peak sooner and for a much shorter time than top quarterbacks, lowering the market for their services.
Some league insiders have even wondered aloud whether its smart for teams ever to pay big bucks to a running back, given the pounding they take.
No one ever wonders aloud whether its smart to give big bucks to your franchise quarterback. Theyre hard to find, even harder to replace and therefore able to command the highest prices on the market.
The Ravens have been in almost every conceivable situation since they came to Baltimore in 1996, but this is a new one re-upping with a winning franchise quarterback they drafted and developed.
A different creature, indeed.