Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens strike contract extension

The Baltimore Ravens and Joe Flacco have done a little business ahead of the start of free agency.

Flacco signed a new three-year contract extension on Wednesday, the team announced. The new deal would keep the quarterback under team control through the 2021 season. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that it's a three-year extension, worth $66.4 million, per a source informed of the negotiations. Flacco will receive a signing bonus of $40 million in the new deal.

Rapoport added that Flacco once again is the highest paid player in the NFL based on new money. The $40 million signing bonus is the highest ever, per Rapoport.

The new deal was expected. When Flacco, 31, signed a huge contract after the Ravens' Super Bowl XLVII win over the 49ers in 2013, the deal was backloaded against the salary cap in a manner that all but demanded renegotiation after the 2015 season. If Flacco played under his previous deal this upcoming season, he'd count a whopping $28.6 million against the cap. Only Drew Brees ($30 million with New Orleans) counted more against his team's cap.

Flacco had his season cut short last year, suffering a torn ACL in a Week 11 win against the Rams. He had surgery in December, and is expected to be ready for the start of the 2016 season.

The Ravens need all the help they can get. They have the second smallest amount of cap space in the league with free agency exactly one week away. It was reported last week that an extension could slice Flacco's cap number by as much as $9 million.

With Flacco taken care of, the Ravens can fully focus on getting a deal done with a player who helps take care of the quarterback. Standout guard Kelechi Osemele is an impending free agent who will command big dollars. We'll see if Flacco's new deal paves the way for Osemele's return.

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