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Ravens need convincing before paying Flacco like elite QB

  • By Vic Carucci NFL.com
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Denny Medley / US Presswire
Joe Flacco has helped lead the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons.


Joe Flacco might not like it, but his boss is right about preferring to wait a year to give his quarterback a contract extension.

Flacco is one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. Last January's postseason appearance made him one of only five quarterbacks in league history to start a playoff game in each of his first three seasons.

But it's so easy to get caught up with how much Flacco has accomplished in such a short time that you overlook the fact his game still is a work in progress. It's fair to say that Flacco is far enough away from being a finished product that the Ravens want to be a little more certain about what they have in him before committing to a long-term deal, one that would likely put him among the higher-paid quarterbacks in the league.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti clearly had as much in mind when he recently was quoted as saying that negotiations with Flacco wouldn't begin until after the 2011 season. Flacco didn't like hearing that. He told the The Baltimore Sun that he wants contract talks to begin this year (whenever NFL business resumes), reasoning that "if you're not confident with who I am, I'm not sure what (difference) a year is going to make."

Actually, it could be a tremendous difference.

Although the Ravens reached the AFC Championship Game in Flacco's rookie year and the divisional round in each of the last two seasons, there is room for improvement. Flacco was the NFL's seventh-rated passer with a career-best rating of 93.6 last season, which is good, but still significantly lower than the ratings of elite passers such as Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger. In bargaining for a new contract, Flacco no doubt will want his pay to be commensurate with that of the upper-tier passers.

To get there, he needs to deliver better numbers.

The Ravens made a concerted effort to upgrade their receiving corps last season. The intention was to create a dynamic passing game, to put most of the offense's fortunes in Flacco's hands and let him soar. But the soaring never happened. The Ravens' passing game ranked 20th in the NFL last year while their rushing attack, long the foundation of the offense, was 14th.

Flacco could, as he suggested to The Sun, simply refuse to talk extension with the Ravens in 2012, play out his contract (which is due to expire after that season) and test the free-agent market. But if the Ravens wanted to retain Flacco and try to work out a long-term agreement, they could use a franchise tag (provided one is still available under whatever business rules the league is operating by then).

The bottom line is that Flacco is the quarterback of a team driven by its defense, which last season ranked third overall in scoring defense, 10th in total defense and was fifth against the run. Bisciotti and the rest of the Ravens' brain trust need to see more evidence about just how much of a difference-maker they have under center before paying Flacco like one.

Glanville: Wide-open schemes work

Former NFL coach Jerry Glanville doesn't think the spread and shotgun-oriented offenses that quarterbacks such as Auburn's Cam Newton and Missouri's Blaine Gabbert ran in college should raise concerns about their ability to succeed at the next level.

Glanville's Houston Oilers and Atlanta Falcons ran wide-open offenses, and he was part of a wide-open scheme as defensive coordinator at the University of Hawaii. He told me during a recent interview on Sirius NFL Radio he believes quarterbacks and receivers are better equipped than ever to handle playing in the pass-first NFL.

"I think (those offenses translate to the NFL) better than ever," said Glanville, who was recently named coach and general manager of the United Football League's Hartford Colonials. "Realistically, some of the college offenses are more wide open than some of the pro teams. And I think the fact they throw the ball so much, you don't need that three-year training session (in the NFL). When I was in Hawaii with (head coach) June Jones, our longest run was the huddle break. We threw it every down, so you get receivers that know about hand placement -- how to catch the football, where to put the fingers. All these things have gotten more and more like pro football."

Combine snub no detriment

Korey Lindsey, a cornerback for Southern Illinois, began the first of eight visits to NFL teams on Monday. The irony is that Lindsey wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine.

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Despite suffering a hamstring injury while running his second 40-yard dash during a March 8 pro day at Northwestern, where he would be exposed to more pro scouts than at his own school, Lindsey has an extremely busy dance card as clubs line up to get a closer look at him in anticipation of the draft.

Lindsey ran an unspectacular 4.51-second 40 on his first attempt at Northwestern, but said he consistently registered 4.4s in training. He impressed NFL scouts two weeks later at the SIU pro day with his performance in various drills, including backpedaling and catching the ball, even though he didn't run another 40.

"I was a little bit disappointed with not getting a combine invite," Lindsey told me during a radio interview. "Not that it rally was going to alter my future, but I just wanted that whole, entire experience as a player. But I just kind of moved forward from it and God just kind of worked it out in mysterious ways for me that now I have eight visits that I'm on. Hopefully, all those go well and someone will fall in love with me."

Foes now friends … sort of

When Glanville and Marty Schottenheimer coached against each other in the old AFC Central (Glanville with the Oilers and Schottenheimer with the Browns), they had what could best be described as an adversarial relationship.

Now, they get to renew that rivalry in the UFL. When both were recently brought together for their new gigs (Schottenheimer was named coach of the Virginia Destroyers), they actually were pretty civil to each other.

"It was very interesting," Glanville said. "That's the longest we were ever side-by-side talking with each other that nobody took a swing. That probably won't happen again."

Follow Vic Carucci on Twitter @viccarucci.

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