Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes that not only are the Ravens likely to franchise QB Joe Flacco in the next few weeks, but they may have to use the exclusive franchise tag to ensure that he will be back for at least another season.
If Baltimore were to apply the general franchise tag they would have to pay Flacco $14.6 million, but they would run the risk that a team could part with two first-round picks and sign him away. The exclusive franchise tag would run Baltimore $20.464 million, which is the average of the top-five quarterback salaries in the league.
Florio adds that the exclusive tag figure could drop based on teams restructurings the contracts of the five players (Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger) use to calculate the number.
The Ravens already have cap issues to work through, so even if the exclusive number comes in lower than the $20.464 million figure; it could be an extra $5-6 million in additional cap space that they would have to create. There’s already a good chance that Baltimore could lose a majority of their free agents in the coming months, so that they can lockup Flacco long-term. This could make an already tumultuous offseason even more stressful for GM Ozzie Newsome.
There stands at least a reasonable chance that the Ravens will go with non-exclusive tag because NFL teams are rarely willing to give up that kind of compensation for a player without an assurance that he’ll be playing for them next season. Just because a team parts with two first-round picks, doesn’t mean that they get him under contract or that he won’t accept a similar deal from the Ravens. That’s too big of a risk to take or any team to take.
Washington traded two first-round picks for the rights to draft Robert Griffin III because they knew he would be under contract for a reasonable amount of money. Trying to pry Flacco away would end up being one of the highest prices any team has ever paid for a player in terms of compensation and total salary.
We have Flacco listed as the No. 1 free agent in our Top 50 Free Agents list.