It's that time of year again. The weather is hot, baseball is approaching the All-Star break, training camp is just around the corner, and quarterbacks are about to get paid. Three NFL quarterbacks entered this period looking for a new contract extension from their teams, and Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was the first to get his earned payday as Oakland gave him a 5-year, $125 million extension with $40 million fully guaranteed, $70 million in total guarantees, and a $12.5 million signing bonus. With Carr's deal out of the way, the two other quarterbacks, Kirk Cousins and Matthew Stafford, will now try to negotiate with their respective teams on new deals.
So, quarterbacks are getting paid, and while the media will jump up and praise a quarterback’s new contract and the teams willingness to pay him, you also know what that means. Take it away, Trey Wingo ...
1/2 The Joe Flacco contract should serve as cautionary tale. Ravens gutted team to pay him after SB 47. Have missed playoffs 3/4 years since— trey wingo (@wingoz) June 27, 2017
Ah yes, the old narrative that's been played by the national media for almost five years now. The narrative that Flacco's contract gutted a Super Bowl championship squad to the point where you see the media say that they should've let him walk for a future draft pick or Tyrod Taylor. Taylor was Flacco's backup at the time, and the truth is there were only two situations when Baltimore could've made the decision to go with Taylor over Flacco.
The first was after 2012, but they weren't going to replace a guy who helped them earn five straight playoff appearances and win a Super Bowl with a quarterback who hadn't shown much in the preseason. The second was after 2014, the year Taylor become a free agent, but Flacco had just led them to their sixth playoff appearance in seven seasons. The Ravens won a playoff game in Pittsburgh for the first time in franchise history and came real close to beating the New England Patriots in the Divisional round that season.
The Ravens were not going to replace Flacco with Taylor, and as far as the draft goes, 2013 is now considered one of the worst quarterback drafts ever. Can you imagine if the Ravens let Flacco walk and then proceeded to select Geno Smith? Some might say they could've picked Carr one year later, but they also might have picked Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel.
Let’s get back to Wingo's comments and take a flashback down memory lane to the offseason after the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII. Flacco got his $120 million deal and all heck broke loose as players left the team like wildfire. This effect started the narrative you see today, but what really happened?
Infamously, Anquan Boldin was traded after the two sides could not agree on a pay cut. When Boldin rejected the proposal, Baltimore tried to replace him with Tandon Doss and it is safe to say that didn't work out very well, so they signed Steve Smith in free agency one year later. Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger both entered free agency coming off very good years in 2012. Not to mention they were both young players who just contributed to a Super Bowl defense, they were going to get paid. The Ravens tried to resign Ellerbe, but he agreed to a 5-year, $35 million deal with the Miami Dolphins. Kruger signed a 5-year, $40 million deal with the Cleveland Browns.
Other departures included cornerback Cary Williams, who agreed to a 3-year, $17 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, Bernard Pollard was released, and Ed Reed was picked up on a private jet by the Houston Texans before signing a 3-year, $15 million deal with the team.
Other than maybe Boldin, none of these players left because of Flacco’s contract. They left because they were either young players looking for big money deals like Williams, Ellerbe, and Kruger, or aging veterans like Pollard and Reed. As great as he was, Reed was not getting that kind of money from the Ravens, especially at that point in his career.
What the media also forgets is that the results spoke for themselves. There is no denying that Boldin has been very good for both the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions, but the same can't be said for the others. Pollard signed with the Tennessee Titans after his release and played two seasons with the team. He ruptured his Achilles tendon in 2014 and hasn't played since. Ellerbe was traded two years into his 5-year deal to the New Orleans Saints, and Kruger was released last year after struggling in two out of his three years in Cleveland. He signed with the Saints and is now currently a free agent.
Williams spent two seasons in Philadlephia before being released. In 2015, Williams signed with the Seattle Seahawks, as he was both benched and released in December of that season. He played with the Washington Redskins in 2016 and just like Kruger, he is now a free agent. Ed Reed was downright dreadful in Houston, and the future Hall of Famer was also benched midway though his first season with the Texans. He was released and picked up by the New York Jets. Reed did not play in 2014 and announced his retirement on May 6th, 2015.
We also can't forget the fact that Matt Birk and Ray Lewis retired, while Flacco lost Dennis Pitta to his first hip fracture during training camp. The team also signed Elvis Dumervil for less than what Kruger got, and he is a much better player than Kruger ever was. Flacco's cap hit in 2013 was also lower than it was in 2012.
It truly is amazing that Ozzie Newsome can be praised by the national media for letting certain players walk and keeping certain players every year, but re-signing Flacco was apparently crossing the line. What's also interesting is Flacco was not the only quarterback who was signed during the 2013 offseason. Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, and Stafford were all signed to contract extensions. None of them got the same backlash and outrage as the Ravens quarterback did.
It's quite sad seeing this narrative beaten to death with a hammer every single time a quarterback gets an extension, as it all goes right back to Flacco without them discussing what was truly going down in Owings Mills. Yet at the same time, other quarterbacks get paid without receiving the same treatment. Stafford and Cousins are next on the list, so there will probably be more finger pointing at Flacco to come.