The Baltimore Ravens have shelved contract talks with their 27-year old franchise quarterback, Joe Flacco. While the two sides were actually relatively close to coming to terms coming into the first week in August before talks were put on the back burners, according to league sources.
Apparently, the burners weren't 'left on,' because there has been zero contact between the two camps since they nearly came to terms over a month ago.
Neither side seems concerned, however, and rightfully so.
Flacco holds all the cards right now as he doesn't seem all too worried about landing that big-money, long-term extension and instead is just focusing on how to replicate the phenomenal performance against the division rival Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football. Not only that, Flacco also understands that the Ravens don't really have anywhere else to turn at the quarterback position if they're looking for someone at his level of play.
Baltimore isn't in dire need to get a deal done right now necessarily, either. It can apply the franchise tender to Flacco for each of the next two seasons and while Flacco will be making substantial money, (about $15 million after the 2012 season and about $18 million after the 2013 season), they can at least count on the fact that he'll be a Raven for at least two more seasons.
However, if the two sides were to try and resume trade negotiations now, they would have to start over from scratch.
I'll be honest, as a Steelers fan first and a football fan second, I've never really thought that Flacco was anything great. I mean, he was already at a slight disadvantage in terms of his development coming out of the University of Delaware and his first few seasons in the NFL showed me nothing that yells, 'I'll be deserving on a long-term contract extension when my rookie deal is up.'
But after watching him dismantle the Bengals in Week One, I realize I may have passed judgment on him too soon. Now in his fifth season, it appears that a light bulb finally went off in Flacco's head about how to play quarterback in the NFL, and more importantly, how to play quarterback for the Ravens.
The Fu Manchu mustache (which has sense been shaved off) and surprisingly high self-confidence aside (he believes he's the best quarterback in the NFL), as long as Flacco keeps his turnovers down, hands the ball off to Ray Rice and throws pretty deep balls to guys like Torrey Smith, etc., the Ravens should be okay with 'Joe Cool' at the controls.
Give him his contract extension, Baltimore. I understand that you'd rather not have Flacco distracted by ongoing contract talks during the season and would prefer that he just focuses on his on-field performance.
However, until the new deal gets done, regardless of what Flacco might be saying publicly, you know the lack of a long-term extension is going to linger in the back of his mind and could potentially affect his performance on the gridiron.
Stop playing games, Baltimore. Play it safe. In the words of Randy Moss, pay 'Joe Cool' that "straight cash, homie!"