On Wednesday, the Baltimore Ravens signed quarterback Joe Flacco to a three-year contract extension through the 2021 season. The team did not announce terms or numbers, but ESPN’s Adam Caplan has reported that the deal is worth $66.4 million with $44 million in guaranteed money. The extension is expected to free up some crucial salary cap space for the Ravens, as Flacco’s 2016 salary cap hit was converted into a signing bonus and his guaranteed money per season over the final three years of his deal has been increased to $20 million per season.
Many remember Joe Flacco for the six-year, $120.6 million contract he signed with Baltimore after leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl XLVII win in 2013. Flacco later stood by his guns and stated that even if he had not led the Ravens to a Super Bowl title that season, that he is still worth that much money. The infamous deal put the Ravens in salary cap jail and led to the departure of many of the team’s key players such as wideout Anquan Boldin, whom the Ravens couldn’t pay and were forced to trade to the San Francisco 49ers for just a measly sixth-round pick.
The Ravens have two key free agents set to hit the market in 2016 in linebacker Courtney Upshaw and offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele. Baltimore clearly does not want to make the same mistakes it made in 2013 when their team broke apart in free agency after Flacco’s new contract made it impossible to sign their other key free agents. Clearly, the Ravens knew that they needed to restructure Flacco’s absurd contract in order to have any shot at re-signing Osemele and Upshaw.
The Ravens just recently placed the franchise tag on kicker Justin Tucker, and before the extension and restructuring of Flacco’s deal, Baltimore had just over $2 million in available salary cap money to work with. With the franchise tag option gone and such little cap money to work with, the Ravens likely would not have been able to re-sign either Upshaw, Osemele or both to long-term deals if they were unable to re-work Flacco’s massive contract. NFL free agency begins on March 9th at 4 pm.