Harris: Flacco's gamble about to pay off
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Waiting on the tarmac at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport with the NFL's hottest property for the departure of their magical flight to Disney World, agent Joe Linta could afford to exhibit some patience.
“Just waiting,” said Linta of Freedom. “I've got my mouse ears. I'm just flattered to be a part of this whole thing.”
Linta and his client, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, waited all season for their prediction to come true: that Flacco would emerge as an elite quarterback and put himself in position to cash in at the negotiating table.
Monday's hectic itinerary featured Flacco — a former Pitt quarterback who went on to star at Delaware — riding in the celebratory Super Bowl parade down Main Street U.S.A., followed by an appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”
Some might consider Flacco's decision to turn down Baltimore's contract offer last summer a gamble, but Linta didn't see it that way.
Not when Flacco, Linta's most famous client, was named MVP after tossing three touchdown passes and leading Baltimore to a 34-31 win over San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII. Flacco tied Joe Montana and Kurt Warner for most touchdown passes in an NFL postseason with 11.
“The whole thing was premised upon Joe willing to bet on himself, and I agreed with him,” Linta said. “We were gambling that Joe was going to continue to rise. He's a proud kid. We felt very confident that he was going to get better and better and play better and better. We were right.
“It's nice when you can see something and it comes to fruition like this. I don't know if it makes it easier, but it makes it more fun for me.”
Weary from a Super Bowl celebration that carried deep into the previous night, Linta perked up when pressed about upcoming negotiations with Baltimore vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty.
Using Drew Brees' five-year, $100 million deal with New Orleans as a reference point — the most recent contract awarded a franchise quarterback — Flacco will earn considerably more than the $6.7 million he received in the final year of his rookie contract.
In an appearance on NFL Network immediately following the game, Flacco said owner Steve Bisciotti told him “that I can pound on his desk and really stick it to him (if the Ravens win the Super Bowl). And that's exactly what I'm gonna do.”
It isn't often when a star player and his agent have the opportunity to, in Flacco's words, “stick it” to ownership. A deal will get done; the public relations nightmare if the Ravens play hardball with Flacco during upcoming negotiations would be immense. However, the team's earlier slights of Flacco's contract value won't be forgotten, either.
“There was never any animosity. We agreed to disagree. We tried, they tried, and we'll keep going,” said Linta, whose client list includes Penn State coach Bill O'Brien, Steelers guard Willie Colon, Baltimore center Matt Birk and veteran NFL coach Romeo Crennel. “We'll talk soon and see what they think. It's kind of on them from a standpoint they have the ability to put a franchise tag on him.
“One of the things you look at when you do these contracts is, are you paying the guy for what he's already done or what he's about to do? In my opinion on both fronts, Joe is at the top of the line; he's in rarefied air.”
Linta said the Ravens have two options for next season: They can pay Flacco $14.6 million using a franchise tag or pay him as much as $20 million using an exclusive franchise tag. The goal is for the two sides to agree to a salary-cap friendly contract that would make Flacco one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league.
Of course, that was Linta's plan all along.
“It's good to be right,” Linta said. “Joe's in the ballpark of the top quarterbacks, clearly, but I wouldn't put a number to it right now. Maybe you take a little less and you get a little more guaranteed.
“Joe's in the prime of his career. He's 28 years old, he's never missed a game in five years, and he's only getting better. They have to look at him that way, and we don't think that's unfair.”
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JHarris_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Steelers will make small strides this season
- Not to be left behind, speedy Steelers are on the fast track in NFL
- Starkey: Bucs still battlin’
- McKeesport Area teacher fired amid sex scandal returns to school
- Steelers have plenty of new faces at wide receiver
- WPIAL coaches, QBs have concerns about using newly-approved footballs
- 2 held for arraignments in gun case
- Feds to protect 20 coral species
- Committee to advise Munhall on vacant properties
- East Allegheny teachers maintain strike plans
- Monroeville firefighters hope hot photo calendar will help raise money