Recently, Scott Kascmar of football outsiders has been curating statistics which seem to support the notion that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco isn't worth the contract that he is currently playing under.
This has been a talking point of Flacco's many detractors since he signed the deal after winning Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. Since then, he has never thrown for over 30 touchdowns, and he has never thrown for over 4,000 yards in his career. Many Ravens fans shrug off this argument as a tired and never ending cycle that statistically centric writers like to perpetuate. They also point to Kascmar's Pittsburgh ties as a reason that he is more critical of Flacco than many others in the industry.
Is what he is saying really so outlandish? His point about Flacco's level of play being somewhat errant since signing the deal is valid. Since 2013, Flacco has thrown for 60 touchdowns and 46 interceptions, an unspectacular ratio at best. The Ravens have gone 23-25 during that span, a below average mark for a proud franchise. While Kascmar does raise some valid points about Flacco's statistical output since signing the deal, he needs to consider that in context, much of Flacco's worth isn't quantifiable.
Stat wonks will likely shrug off this idea as simply narrative. To a degree, they are right. Yet, it only made sense to lock Flacoo up for whatever kind of money he was seeking after the situation the Ravens found themselves in following Super Bowl XLVII and his historic playoff run. This is something even Kascmar acknowledges, and it is quite obvious that if Flacco had walked from the team after a run like that, the organization would have had a nightmare on their hands.
From a public relations standpoint, the fan base would have torn the front office apart. Beyond just the optics, the situation would have been completely unprecedented. If the Ravens didn't give Flacco his money, what would they have done going forward? Tyrod Taylor had a decent first season with the Buffalo Bills last year, but he would have only had two seasons of experience as a backup quarterback at that point, and had shown nothing that indicated he could be a franchise quarterback for the Ravens.
Could they have drafted a quarterback that year? Maybe, but their first pick was at number 32, and their only option there would have been Geno Smith. That would have been a disaster.
Flacco may not be worth the kind of money he is making by a pure numbers standpoint. Still, you would be hard pressed to find a sound minded individual who would take Geno Smith over him, even at a high cap hit. Robert Mays recently wrote an excellent piece at The Ringer about wading into "the great QB Unknown."
"My particular fear is rooted in taking that last step beyond where the ocean floor is visible. I don’t get scared because I know what’s out there. I get scared because I don’t," wrote Mays, discussing his fear of the ocean. He went on to compare this fear to going into a season without a proven commodity at quarterback, analyzing where the New York Jets are right now without Ryan Fitzpatrick. "So here we are, on the brink of a future in which Geno Smith and Christian Hackenberg battle it out for New York’s starting job in the most depressing Thunderdome ever conceived. Two men enter. One fan base leaves disappointed."
At the end of the day, this is what it all boils down to. Flacco may not even rank in the top 10 of quarterbacks across the league, but as a Ravens fan, I'd much rather have him at a high cap hit than not at all. It's easy to lay out his production on a spreadsheet and say that because his numbers don't reach a certain point, that he isn't worth the money he is making. While this is somewhat valid, it just doesn't make any sense to let a franchise quarterback walk, no matter what the asking price. Flacco has more than proven himself to be that at this point. If he wants to be paid, I say pay the man.