Sports Illustrated NFL Insider Peter King has painted a scenario where Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco could end up in Cleveland, among other places. I wish I had a farm in this Fantasy Land, I'd bet against it.
King's facts are spot on. He accurately states that Baltimore has three options with Flacco. They could sign him to a long-term contract, they could name him their exclusive-rights franchise player or they could use the standard franchise tag on him. Of the franchising options, the former means the Ravens would be the only team he could negotiate with. The latter would mean other teams could offer Flacco a contract and Baltimore would have the choice of matching it, or opting to take that team's next two first round draft picks.
Ravens management and ownership have not ruled out exposing Flacco to other teams. They also haven't said it's what they're going to do. Clearly, they are posturing. If they put the exclusive-rights tag on him they could end up paying him around $20-million a season, a figure he'd likely ask for in free agency. They are already over the cap by around $5-million.
This has sparked conversation around Cleveland about whether or not the Browns should consider a run at Flacco if the Ravens do not put exclusive-rights on him. This might be fun to discuss, but I can't see how it's realistic. It's very simple. Why would the Ravens let him go? You can throw every salary cap fact out there and I won't listen. It is insanity to think that a team that just won the Super Bowl, behind the quarterback they drafted to be their franchise leader, would decide to let him walk over salary issues. Players do become cap casualties in this league, but not Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks. Those other players get let go to make room for guys like Flacco!
Baltimore will spend the next few weeks talking a good game. They might even let Flacco talk to other teams. They will not let him get away. Even if the Browns signed him to an offer sheet of $18 million per season the Ravens would sign it and probably save a few million bucks along the way.
If you want Flacco on the Browns I suggest you buy a copy of Madden and find a way to get him on their roster. That's the only way it'll ever happen. If it's in the game, it's in the game. Even if it hails from Fantasy Land, you can put it in the game.
Mark Schwab, Sports Anchor/Reporter