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Agent: Joe Flacco's play, silence is contract leverage

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh had three words to say about quarterback Joe Flacco after a statement 44-13 Week 1 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night.

"Pay the man," Harbaugh said.

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Flacco, who went 21-of-29 passing with 299 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions Monday, is in the final season of his five-year rookie contract that pays him $6.7 million this season.

There's not much for an NFL coach to gain by weighing in on the contract negotiations of an impending free agent. Either the front office boss or the player is not going to be happy.

Then again, those Harbaughs aren't exactly known for hiding their feelings, and Harbaugh's words certainly can't hurt his quarterback -- or his quarterback's agent.

Still, Joe Linta says he hasn't spoken with Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti.

"The only way you get categorized as an elite quarterback is by the money and the contract you're offered," Linta told Comcast SportsNet Baltimore. For someone to say you're great is one thing. To pay you like you're great is another.

"My biggest negotiating tactic is his play on the field. Nothing that I say surpasses anything he does on the field. If Steve wants to call me, he's got my number. At this point, it's up to them. ... (Flacco's) silence is my leverage."

Expectations are at an all-time high for Flacco and the Ravens' offense. The team advanced to the AFC Championship Game last season. Running back Ray Rice is in his prime and signed his own five-year, $40 million deal during the offseason. A receiving corps of Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson are, arguably, the best Flacco's had throughout his career. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has planned to take advantage of Flacco's maturation in 2012.

Still, the quarterback toils without a deal. And would the Ravens really risk parting ways with a top-10 quarterback in today's NFL? Doubtful. Sooner or later, one way or another, Baltimore will pay the man.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.

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