The Baltimore Ravens head into the 2016 offseason with a to-do list to get back into contention for 2017. The most important thing for the team is to have key contributors like quarterback Joe Flacco and linebacker Terrell Suggs healthy, as well as other players like Steve Smith, Jeremy Zuttah, Breshad Perriman, Eugene Monroe, and Crockett Gillmore, assuming they all return next season. But that is really not within their control, while some of the other factors are.
A key factor to the teams offseason lays in what happens with Flacco's contract, which is jumping from $14.55 to $28.55 million for 2016. If the Ravens and Flacco are able to agree on an extension for his contract which has 3 years remaining, it could potentially open up $8 to $9 million for the Ravens to spend this year. The hope is that they will be able to come to and agreement before free agency opens up on March 9th, and hopefully with enough time to make a run at keeping free agent Kelechi Osemele in the fold to play left tackle for 2016 and beyond.
Flacco told WBAL radio this morning, on a call to promote a Special Olympics charity event:
"Come on, I want to win, so I want to do everything we can to get something done," Flacco said. "I don't know exactly what that is or exactly what that's going to be because we haven't talked about it yet. But I know that that's a huge number and it's not really realistic."
This should come as a relief to Ravens fans who were concerned about whether Joe would be open to helping the Ravens out, especially in light of recent comments made by his agent, Joe Linta a few weeks ago. However, there is always incentive for a player like Flacco to renegotiate even when he holds all the leverage, with the Ravens needing to guarantee more money and tack on a few more years on the end of the contract. This will be win-win for the Ravens and Flacco, keeping him in the fold into his mid to late 30's.
For now, Ravens fans can let out a sigh of relief. And stop criticizing the guy for maximizing his earnings when the only quarterback in the entire NFL to leave money on the table is Tom Brady. He wants to win, and is willing to help the team out to make it happen.