Know what happens when you sign the wealthiest contract in football history, in a salary cap sport?
Let’s rewind a few months to New Year’s Eve. The Ravens had just lost their final regular season game to the Bengals. They had truly backed into the playoffs, losing four of their last five games. The offense (led by Flacco) was so bad that they fired their offensive coordinator.
And then Ray Lewis returns for his final playoff farewell. They match up against a weak Colts team, the Broncos’ secondary makes one of the worst gaffes in postseason history, Baltimore’s defense punishes Brady and the Pats, and Flacco shines in the Super Bowl thanks to some amazing catches by his receivers and a 108-yard kickoff return. Frankly, I think the Ravens’ win was flukey and a result of a lot of good luck.
Suddenly, Joe Flacco is a free agent at the perfect time and the quarterback that has never been selected to a Pro Bowl is offered a six-year, $120.6 million contract. Good for you Joe, get what you can get.
The only problem is, there isn’t enough to go around. I hope you’re ready.
The Ravens didn’t have the budget to keep Anquan Boldin and wanted to reduce his salary. What did Flacco say? Boldin should “stick to his guns, and that’s the way it should be.” Well, he stuck to his guns and immediately got traded for a sixth round draft pick. According to ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, Joe Flacco completed 62% of his passes to Boldin and just 48% to everyone else. If Flacco takes a little less there is likely enough to not even worry about Boldin. How will you do without him, Joe?
Unfortunately, that’s not the end of it. We know that linebacker Ray Lewis retired. The Ravens let go of Dannell Ellerbe and sack-leader Paul Kruger. They also just lost their leading tackler safety Bernard Pollard. Other players no longer on the team include veteran guard Bobbie Williams and retired center Matt Birk. And what about Ed Reed, the future Hall of Famer?
So Mr. Flacco, you got your money and I hope you are happy. Because of your new contract there is much less financial flexibility in Baltimore, your top target is now playing for the other Harbaugh and your defense got a lot weaker. Now we will all see whether you really belong among the most valuable quarterbacks in the league because there is no one for you to hide behind. You will soon realize that your teammates had a lot to do with your success.
In a team sport with a $123 million salary cap to cover 53 players, when one player counts for $30 million (24%) of that, he better be a superstar. And Joe is not a superstar.