Ravens' Flacco: I've established myself

Quarterback disappointed that he'll have to wait for contract extension

April 02, 2011|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

Joe Flacco expressed disappointment Saturday that the Ravens have decided to wait on a contract extension until next offseason.

Flacco, who enters the final year of his contract in 2012, said he he deserves an extension this offseason after quarterbacking the Ravens to playoff wins for three straight seasons.

"I think I've established myself," Flacco told The Baltimore Sun before Haruki Nakamura's Japan relief charity event at Ripken Stadium. "If you're not confident with who I am, I'm not sure what a year is going to make."

Flacco, 26, is the Ravens' all-time leading passer in yards (10,206), TD passes (60), completions (878) and attempts (1,416). He is just the third starting quarterback since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to reach the playoffs in his first three NFL seasons, joining Bernie Kosar and Dan Marino.

A first-round pick in 2008, Flacco is scheduled to make $4.5 million this season and $4.6 million in 2012. In comparison, the Ravens gave Marc Bulger $3.8 million last season just to be a backup. And two quarterbacks rated below Flacco last season — Denver's Kyle Orton and Jacksonville's David Garrard — will make over $7 million this season.

Flacco was informed of the Ravens' decision to wait until next year a couple of weeks before the NFL lockout began.

"Ideally for me, I would like to start talks this year," Flacco said. "Next year, I feel like they would have to throw something in front of me that's going to be pretty legit in order for me to not play out my fifth year. If you don't sign me this year, you're making me play a whole year of my contract with no security. In a year from now, I'm going to be thinking, 'Hey, they already made me play one year without another contract, what's the harm in playing another year and seeing what happens after that?' "

There hasn't been a general rule as to when to extend a quarterback's contract. Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger signed his extension with two years left on his contract, while the New York Giants' Eli Manning and San Deigo's Philip Rivers agreed to deals before entering the final year of their contracts.

At the NFL owners meetings last month, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said he would "anticipate" an extension for Flacco next year. "Our goal is to get it done for 2012 for sure," Bisciotti said.

Flacco said he wasn't surprised by the comments before offering a rebuttal.

"I would like to do something as soon as possible because I feel like I deserve it," Flacco said. "If you don't feel like I'm going to be your quarterback for the next 10 years, what's one year going to make. I don't know what the deal is. We'll have to let this play out and see."

Ravens officials have repeatedly expressed confidence in Flacco this offseason and endorsed him as their franchise quarterback.

But they've acknowledged a need for growth. After the season, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome pointed out that Flacco can be "a guy that can be inconsistent, not get it done at times."

"It's upon all of us to take him to the next level," Newsome said in January. "He's got to be a better quarterback in 2011 than he was in 2010. And I think that's all I would ask him: Be better than you were last year. I think Joe will be willing to do that."

Last season, Flacco ranked in the top 11 in the NFL in completion percentage, passing yards, touchdowns and quarterback rating. In the playoff win at Kansas City, Flacco recorded a quarterback rating of 115.4, a Ravens' postseason record.

The Ravens' track record is to keep first-round picks who live up to expectations. They signed tight end Todd Heap and safety Ed Reed to extensions before entering their final years, but they've also used the franchise tag on cornerback Chris McAlister and linebacker Terrell Suggs before locking them up to lucrative deals.

Flacco, who is 32-16 (.666) as a starter in the regular season, made it a point to say he isn't gong "to create any trouble" over a new contract. He just would consider it a sign of faith to start talks as soon as possible.

"Personally and for what I've done, you would think they would feel comfortable with me," he said. "Not that signing something next year wouldn't say we feel comfortable with you. But the problem with that is you've just made me play another year."

This has been a tougher-than-expected offseason for Flacco. It was a couple of months ago when the Ravens fired quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn after Flacco had called Bisciotti and coach John Harbaugh to support him.

But Flacco said there is no question where he wants to remain long-term.

"I would feel that after three years, you can make a decision on whether you want me to be your future quarterback or whether you don't. It's your decision," Flacco said. "I wish and hope they would do what they want me to do, which is stay here. Obviously, I want to stay here no matter what. I would want them to do something as early as possible."

Jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/jamisonhensley

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