In the aftermath of Joe Flaccos performance Monday night, coach John Harbaugh uttered three simple words.
No, it wasnt I love you, but given the 44-13 spanking that Flacco gave to the AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals in the season opener that wouldve been close.
Instead, with a huge smile, Harbaugh said this: Pay the man.
The room broke out in laughter, but who could argue against him?
Flacco, who is in the fifth and final year of a contract that will pay him about 6.7 million this season, played like the Top 5 quarterback that he contends he is. He completed 21 of 29 passes for 299 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
According to his agent, Joe Linta, theyre still waiting for the Ravens to pick up the phone and work out a new deal. Hes not going to do it.
Linta did talk to Flacco for almost an hour Tuesday, and the message from the player after such a scintillating performance was the same. Hes willing to wait it out and let the chips fall where they may.
The only way you get categorized as an elite quarterback is by the money and the contract youre offered, Linta told CSNBaltimore. For someone to say youre great is one thing. To pay you like youre great is another.
After Harbaughs light-hearted comments, Flacco brushed off the urgency for a new deal.
I dont concern myself with that stuff, he said after the game. I feel like I always go out there and we play pretty damn good every week. The stats might not always say 299 yards or 300 yards or 450 yards, whatever it is, but the bottom line is I go out there and I play hard. I play tough and we win a lot of football games around here. So, all that stuff will take care of itself.
Going into the season, the focus wasnt just on the new hurry-up offense of the Ravens, but whether or not Flacco is good enough to lead them to the Super Bowl glory after four consecutive trips to the playoffs.
Aside from a few errant throws that couldve resulted interceptions, he was precise. His touchdown passes to Anquan Boldin for 34 yards and Dennis Pitta for 10 yards were better than the coverage by the Bengals, who were in good position.
But Flacco has far better weapons with Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Pitta and Ed Dickson.
The way he played last night is the way he plays every week. When you run, run, pass as they did the last couple of years its very difficult and it puts a lot of pressure on a quarterback to succeed on second and long, third down and those kind of situations, said Linta. With this thing opening up now I think youre going to see a dramatic shift from him because of the dynamic of what hell be put into.
Its not that hes all of a sudden emerging. Hes been emerging for the last three years.
Flacco, Linta said, is more concerned about the season than any contract. His record of success, leading the Ravens to two AFC title games and 12-4 records the last two seasons, speaks for itself.
"You've never missed a game, you've started every game and you've been a consummate citizen in terms of the way you are in the community and handle yourself publicly, if that doesn't make you a top five guy I don't know what does."