Joe Flacco is about to become the highest paid quarterback in the league, reportedly signing a six-year $120+ million deal, eclipsing last year’s deal between Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. And why not? After all, Flacco is the only quarterback in the history of the NFL to win a postseason game in each of his first five seasons, holds the playoff record for road wins with six, and in the year of his Super Bowl run, threw 11 touchdowns with no interceptions. (Also remember: he was shit under offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. When the Ravens fired Cameron, Flacco proceeded to go on a tear. Turns out he was being held back after all.) It was only a few short months ago that Joe Flacco called himself elite, and the pundits scoffed. He hasn’t done this, he hasn’t done that, he’s not the guy you want leading your team. Then, that Super Bowl win happened. And everything’s changed.
Though Flacco could have been paid a signing bonus much like Brady, he’s going for a different angle here. It’s important for Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens franchise, to give the proverbial fuck you to the critics to have been bashing him over the years. By making him the highest paid quarterback in the league, he’s essentially elite simply because of his bankroll. Say what you want about his numbers, but in the end, it’s the win-loss column that matters most, and dude is a winner.
Tom Brady recently signed an unusual contract: five years for $57 million. It’s not the numbers of the contract that are unusual-although still rating him as a top flight quarterback at 40, when the contract ends, is a stretch-it’s that every single penny of that is practically guaranteed money. Guaranteed money in the NFL is the hardest thing to come by, and paying a man the full $57 million (under the condition he is still active on the last game of the last day of his contract) is almost unheard of.
In addition, the Patriots have found a way to circumvent the salary cap with Brady’s contract, opting to pay him a $30 million signing bonus up front. This lowers the cap hit against the Patriots to around the $13-14 million a year rate, where it would have been near $20 million without the bonus. This allows the Patriots to use the extra money to retool and surround Brady with the help he needs.
Only question though: will the full guaranteed money upset other players around the league? Will it set precedent for others going forward, to demand the same benefits? Not likely. When you’re as decorated as Tom Brady you have some leverage to go for historic deals. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an undercurrent of jealousy flowing through the Patriots’ locker room in 2013, if Brady starts having a shitty season. Until he starts under throwing receivers in 2017, consider the deal smart business from Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick.