Ravens have big franchise-tag decision to make with Joe Flacco

The NFL still hasn't officially set the salary cap for 2013, meaning that clubs are working off projections on both the cap and franchise-tag figures, with the tag-designation period beginning Monday.

Projections have been distributed to a number of agents recently based on a $121 million salary cap. The final numbers can't be calculated without the cap number being official, because the tag figures work off percentages of the cap. The positional numbers distributed are as follows:

Cornerback: $10.7 million

Defensive end: $11.0 million

Defensive tackle: $8.3 million

Linebacker: $9.4 million

Offensive lineman: $9.7 million

Punter/Kicker: $2.9 million

Quarterback: $14.6 million

Running back: $8.1 million

Safety: $6.8 million

Tight end: $6.0 million

Wide receiver: $10.4 million

One club that will have a big decision to make on the franchise tag going forward is the Baltimore Ravens, which will have to decide whether to put the exclusive or non-exclusive tag on quarterback Joe Flacco. But from a salary-cap standpoint, the Ravens are afforded some time to work things out if they do decide to place the more expensive exclusive tag on Flacco, per rules in the collective bargaining agreement.


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The exclusive number -- because it's based on 2013 cap numbers -- won't be set until after the restricted free-agent signing period ends April 19. Until then, an exclusive tag counts against a club's cap at the non-exclusive rate, which means that an exclusive tag on Flacco would cost Baltimore "just" $14.6 million against its cap until then, and give the Ravens more flexibility with which to manage their roster in the time being.

After that, the number would be adjusted up, but the hope would be that a long-term deal would be done by then.

If nothing changes between now and April 19, the exclusive tag on Flacco would cost $20.46 million, the average of the top-five quarterback cap figures for 2013. Those are, in order:

Tom Brady, New England Patriots: $21.55 million

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: $20.82 million

Eli Manning, New York Giants: $20.35 million

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos: $20 million

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: $19.6 million

The exclusive tag figure could rise if another quarterback -- like, for example, Aaron Rodgers -- were to get a new, front-loaded deal. It also could fall if one of the above quarterbacks, perhaps Roethlisberger, renegotiates to help his team out of a tough cap situation. The next quarterback on the above list is Drew Brees ($17.4 million), so if Roethlisberger were to drop off the above list with a reworked deal, in this case, the exclusive tag would fall about $400,000.

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @AlbertBreer.