Flacco is by far the best quarterback available on the free agent market and with several quarterback needy teams, he should have a number of suitors. Reports have surfaced that Flacco is shooting for a contract worth $20 million per season and his agent said he should be the highest paid quarterback in the NFL. While Flacco's playoff resume is impressive, he may have a hard time getting that kind of contract from anywhere other than Baltimore.
The issue isn't interest. The Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets and other quarterback needy teams are all likely to be interested in Flacco. Instead, the issue is whether those teams can give Flacco the upper-echelon contract he is apparently searching for. Here is a closer look at some of Flacco's potential suitors.
Despite not being able to work out a deal prior to the season, the Ravens have made it clear they want to keep Flacco. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti was reportedly willing to offer Flacco $16-17 million before the season, but will likely have to up that offer now. If the two sides were unable to agree on a long-term deal, Baltimore could use the franchise tag on Flacco. Doing so would cost the Ravens $14.642 million with an exclusive-rights franchise tag costing more than $20 million. According to ESPN's John Clayton, the Ravens are projected to have $15.7 million in salary cap space, so they should have some flexibility to structure a deal. The franchise tag designation period from from Feb. 18 through March 4.
Coming off a Super Bowl, the Ravens obviously offer Flacco a chance to win now, something some of the other potential suitors may not. Familiarity is also to the Ravens advantage as Flacco has spent all five years of his NFL career in Baltimore.
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Arizona started four quarterbacks last season, none of which played very well. The Cardinals gave Kevin Kolb a six-year $63.5 million contract prior to 2011, but he's struggled in his time in Arizona. Kolb, however, received just $10 million guaranteed in the deal so Arizona could release him without too much of a hit.
Arizona, however, would have to do a lot more than release Kolb to make room for Flacco. The Cardinals currently project to be nearly $1 million over the salary cap. With Flacco searching for a contract worth roughly $20 million per season, the Cardinals may not have enough cap space to be a serious contender.
New York Jets
New York's quarterback issues have been well documented and while the Jets would surely be interested in Flacco, they may have a hard time offering the contract he wants. The Jets owe Mark Sanchez $8.25 million guaranteed next season. There is also the small issue that New York is currently $19.4 million over the salary cap. In order to get into Flacco's price range New York may need to clear close to $40 million. That is just to sign Flacco and may not leave New York much room to fill the number of other holes.
Coming off a 2-14 season and with a new coaching staff, the Chiefs can't offer Flacco a win-now situation, but they do have salary cap room. Kansas City projects to have $16.1 million in salary cap space and could clear even more if they release quarterback Matt Cassel.
Kansas City can also offer Flacco the opportunity to work with noted quarterback guru Andy Reid, but in order to lure Flacco away from the Super Bowl champions the Chiefs may need to offer him considerably more money. Kansas City has cap space, but maybe not that much.
Like the Chiefs, the Jaguars have the salary cap space to make Flacco a big offer, but are lacking in offering a competitive team. Jacksonville finished 2-14 last season and will play next season under first-year head coach Gus Bradley.
There is some question as to how interested the Jaguars would be in Flacco. Jacksonville used the No. 10 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft on Blaine Gabbert and despite struggling during his first two seasons, he is still just 23-years-old. Jacksonville also appears to be a year or two away from contention and may not want to invest $20 million or more in a quarterback.
The Bills could be an interesting fit for Flacco as they appear ready to move on from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Buffalo is scheduled to have more than $20 million in salary cap space and that is before releasing Fitzpatrick. They finished just 6-10 last season, but have some talented pieces on offense including running back C.J. Spiller and wide receiver Steve Johnson.
Still, if the money is the same, or close to the same it's hard to see Flacco choosing Buffalo over Baltimore.