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Thursday, January 31, 2013
Owner: Ravens got their QB for next decade

By Jamison Hensley

 Joe Flacco
Joe Flacco will likely be Baltimore's quarterback for the rest of his career.
NEW ORLEANS -- General manager Ozzie Newsome recently guaranteed that quarterback Joe Flacco will be with the Ravens next season even though his contract expires at the end of the season. On Thursday, the Ravens owner expressed confidence that Flacco will be around longer than that.

"We have a franchise quarterback, he's going to get franchise money," owner Steve Bisciotti said. "We've got our quarterback for the next 10 years and we're going to ride Joe."

Bisciotti acknowledged that "franchise money" is as hard to define as the "elite" label. According to Bisciotti, the Ravens have offered Flacco a contract that averages more than the $14.6 million franchise tag, which shouldn't come as a surprise.

What it will come down to is this: Do the Ravens believe Flacco is worth a Drew Brees contract that averages $20 million per year or does he deserve a deal closer to $16 million to $18 million per year?

"We didn’t agree on a number and I didn’t really care to discuss it any further once it got to that point," Flacco said Thursday. "Bottom line is I’m not the guy going up into their offices and negotiating with them every day anyways. It was really never a concern of mine and never really thought about it. Even in the offseason, when you think about it a little bit, they are really all good thoughts. It’s a good problem to have and to be talking about.”

This really hasn't been a major storyline at the Super Bowl because there's no drama. From Bisciotti to coach John Harbaugh, everyone in the Ravens organization feels confident that Flacco will eventually get signed. Flacco has never complained about the lack of a new deal and actually seems disinterested about it when addressing it during the season.

He doesn't have anything to worry about because he's not going anywhere. The Ravens aren't going to let him walk after going through 15 starting quarterbacks in their first 12 years of existence (in order): Vinny Testaverde, Eric Zeier, Jim Harbaugh, Scott Mitchell, Stoney Case, Tony Banks, Trent Dilfer, Elvis Grbac, Randall Cunningham, Chris Redman, Jeff Blake, Kyle Boller, Anthony Wright, Steve McNair and Troy Smith. To be honest, I'm not sure half of these guys really qualified as being quarterbacks.

This is how the offseason is going to go for the Ravens and Flacco. They'll either get a long-term deal done by February or Flacco will get the franchise tag. If the sides can't get an agreement reached by mid-July, Flacco will play under the tag for the entire year. Last season, the Ravens placed the tag on running back Ray Rice and got him signed to a multi-year contract with only a few hours to spare on that July deadline.

Putting the franchise tag on Flacco doesn't seem to bother Bisciotti. Even though the tag would eat up nearly $15 million of this year's salary cap, Bisciotti feels that it will be good practice for the future, when Flacco's cap number will balloon three years into a new long-term deal. In his eyes, the Ravens are going to have to deal with Flacco taking up a large portion of the cap whether it's in 2013 or 2015.

"Will it cost us a player or two? Yes it will," Bisciotti said. "But if we’re going to be in that situation for the next eight years, and if we have to do it this year, it’s just a good dry run. It's just forcing our hand a little earlier."

Bisciotti, though, is confident that a long-term deal with Flacco will get done at some point.

"I was made aware that he and his agent were real close with Ozzie, and think that Ozzie has always come through and gotten the job done," Bisciotti said. "We've never lost a great, great franchise player."