As soon as the Super Bowl ended in 2013, I predicted that the Baltimore Ravens would fail to make the playoffs the following year. Although I didn’t believe he was worthy, I foresaw the organization giving Joe Flacco a ridiculous amount of money to keep him in Baltimore. They did, and that was the beginning of the team’s demise.
Among the many players of importance lost to the Ravens in the off season was Anquan Boldin, Flacco’s ‘go-to’ receiver. They lost a total of eight starting players to free agency, which enabled them to stay under the salary cap.
Yes, we watched as the Baltimore Ravens destroyed a team to pay a quarterback.
The 2013 season demonstrated a Baltimore offense and defense much less effective than the 2012 team, after Flacco received his new and very lucrative contract. They finished third in the AFC North, and were out of the playoff picture. In 2013 he threw 19 passes for a touchdown; 22 were intercepted. He had his lowest passer rating since coming into the league at 73.1 percent. During the previous season which led to the Super Bowl, he completed 22 passes for a touchdown, with only 10 interceptions. He had his highest passer rating of 87.7 on their road to New Orleans.
I do not believe that he is worth 20 million dollars a year. Giving a ‘good’ player that much money cost them more than just a chance to repeat as Super Bowl champions. That enormous figure should be reserved only for the elite in the NFL, and there are only three in that category; Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers.
Being a devoted Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I have watched Flacco play at least two games every season. He is a very accurate ‘deep’ passer, but his throws are often slightly off target when he attempts a short pass across the middle, and even less accurate when his passes are to the sideline.
(Now that you know I’m a Steeler’s fan, I’ll bet you’re wondering why I didn’t include Ben Roethlisberger in the elite group. I do, but those who don’t watch Pittsburgh on a regular basis have not witnessed his true value to the team, and do not rate him as the others.)
Flacco was given his new contract based on his Super Bowl win. Apparently they didn’t take into account the less than satisfactory defensive performance by San Francisco in the first half. And the league would like everyone to forget about the ‘non-call’ near the end of the game. If pass interference had been correctly called in the end zone, the 49ers would have been raising the Lombardi Trophy, and I doubt Flacco’s contract would have been for 20 million dollars a year.
The real story here is what has been discussed for decades, there is too much money in professional sports. Not even a quarterback, who has more responsibility than any position in all sports, is worth 20 million dollars a year. Miguel Cabrera received a new contract from the Detroit Tigers which gives him nearly 30 million dollars in salary. He will also receive bonuses; two million for being named the MVP, and one million if he wins another triple crown. There is no doubt that he will be known as one of the greatest hitters of all time, but is he worth the money? The contract is for nearly 300 million dollars for the next 10 years. He is 30 years old. He will soon become a designated hitter.
A baseball player has to be mechanically sound on defense. His only real value to the team is on offense. In a nine inning game, a hitter may come to the plate four or five times. If he plays all 162 games, (which no one does), he could have as many as 810 at bats. If he gets a hit 300 of that number, he will be a superstar, and he doesn’t have to drive in the winning run. Something’s wrong with this picture.
But, I digress.
In Flacco’s defense, he lost his core receivers. But it’s no excuse. Peyton Manning set records in Denver, and the Patriot’s lost their entire receiving corps, and Tom Brady barely blinked an eye.
Just under five months from now, a new NFL season begins. I will be fascinated to watch the Ravens, and see how they fare this year. Four of their toughest games will be in their own division with the Bengals and Steelers. And those teams know Flacco’s strengths and weaknesses very well.
James Turnage is an NFL writer for TPF and can be contacted at JTurnage@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com