Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, which is both great and unfortunate for the Ravens’ front office. The great side is, of course, the fact that that means they, you know, won a Super Bowl, which is kind of the entire point of what they all do, and even what we all do, all year.
But at the same time, it also means that the prefix “Super Bowl-winning quarterback” comes with a certain pay grade that has to be adhered to regardless of whether or not it is fully justified. And he was not simply a winner, he was a Super Bowl MVP.
To be sure, Flacco had a truly tremendous postseason run in 2012. If I recall correctly, he tied the record for the most touchdown passes ever thrown in a single postseason run. He certainly did very well for himself. And he also happened to bet on himself that year. He parlayed that ring into a huge paycheck, making him the highest-paid quarterback in the league—briefly, before Aaron Rodgers surpassed him.
Flacco recently had his deal redone for cap purposes that once again makes him the highest-paid player in the league based on average yearly payout, averaging I believe $22.1 million per season, with an average yearly cap hit of $25.1 million on the remaining years left of his deal.
All that, in conjunction with his on-field showing, has caused Pro Football Focus to deem his the second-worst quarterback contract in the league, behind only Eli Manning, another quarterback with a reputation of generally putting up quality statistics mixed with turnovers, yet with some compelling postseason runs. Manning, in fact, is a two-time Super Bowl MVP, and is certainly paid like it.
As for Flacco, who is coming off a torn ACL, the site lists 2019 as the earliest point at which he can be “realistically” cut, suggesting that the Ravens are pretty well tied to their former first-round draft pick for at least the next three seasons. Not that they would be advised to look elsewhere, of course.
They write, “Joe Flacco is another Super Bowl-winning quarterback who is getting paid more-so because he won a ring, rather than for how well he’s expected to perform going forward”. Describing him as “an above-average QB” early in his career, they say “he has been much more unpredictable” in recent years, “with three of his four worst graded seasons coming in the past three years”.
His quarterback rating was the worst among players with at least 400 drop backs last season, while his 2014 rating was the worst among quarterbacks with at least 600 drop backs. Still, Flacco is now signed through 2021, and “his dead money would exceed the cap savings” for each of the next four seasons.
While they believe that there is some reason to believe he can return to being an above-average quarterback, they also note that that simply does not justify being the highest-paid player, under an inescapable contract for the next several seasons. But that is the price of doing business in the NFL with a franchise quarterback.