Newsflash: Flacco isn't a top 5 quarterback

February, 16, 2012
2/16/12
10:10
AM ET
I submit to you the first piece of evidence that the contract extension talks for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will take a long time:

“If the game is about wins and losses, he has to be in the top five [quarterbacks],” agent Joe Linta, who represents Flacco, told the Baltimore Sun.

[+] EnlargeJoe Flacco
Mark L. Baer/US PresswireJoe Flacco doesn't have gaudy numbers, but he does have the most regular-season wins ever by a quarterback in his first four seasons.
Everybody knows it's the job of the agent to get as much money as he or she can for his player. But agents hate when teams lowball them, so they shouldn't do the same.

Even the biggest Flacco supporters would never say he's a top-five quarterback. There is no convincing argument to put him in the same class as Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. If you want to talk about wins, these quarterbacks have Super Bowl wins and three of them have multiple rings.

Flacco's agent and the Ravens will open talks on a contract extension next week at the NFL combine. Flacco is entering the final year of his deal and is scheduled to make $8.8 million in 2012.

Linta told The Sun that the meeting will be a “brief chat over coffee,” and not a “Hatfield and McCoy thing.”

Flacco's best argument in these negotiations is wins. His 44 regular-season victories are the most by a quarterback in his first four seasons in NFL history. He also became the first starting quarterback in NFL history to lead his team to the playoffs in each of his first four seasons. Even general manager Ozzie Newsome said you can't knock Flacco for being "a winner."

But the Ravens aren't going to give him a $100 million contract. In five of the Ravens' 12 regular-season wins in 2011, Flacco threw for under 200 yards. He ranked 12th in passing yards (3,610), 26th in completion percentage (57.6) and 13th in touchdown passes (20).

As the Ravens front office would agree, Flacco's contract extension should be more than the second-tier quarterbacks like the Cardinals' Kevin Kolb (six years, $65 million with $21.5 million guaranteed) and the Bills' Ryan Fitzpatrick (six years, $59 million with $24 million guaranteed). But how much more? That's going to be the sticking point in negotiations.

“We’re not going to have a press conference next Saturday to announce his extension,” Linta said jokingly. “In order to do Joe Flacco’s contract extension, we have to start somewhere. And that’s sitting down and chatting, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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