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The Baltimore Ravens are willing to pay Joe Flacco like one of the NFL's top three quarterbacks. How will it impact the Carolina Panthers?
Joe Flacco's camp wanted $20-million per-year from the Baltimore Ravens, and they got it . It's amazing what a Super Bowl victory can do. Flacco isn't a bad QB, not by any stretch. However, a career 86.3 rated passer, who's never thrown for 4,000 yards in a season? That seems like a stretch to become one of the league's highest paid quarterbacks. His new contract, expected to be finalized today, will pay Flacco $120.6 million over six years with his cap figure being a team-friendly $6.8 million in 2013. It will then balloon to more, escalating to over $13-million, with a natural 'breaking point' following the 2015 season when Flacco is set to make more than $25-million, this from Spotrac . In retaining Flacco the Ravens have set a new watermark for quarterbacks who are legitimate franchise players, but not in the Tom Brady/Drew Brees stratosphere. Herein lies the problem for Carolina, who need to prepare for Cam Newton's new contract.
It's impossible to predict how the next three years will play out, but when you compare Flacco and Newton in their first two seasons, they're close.
Joe Flacco: 6,584 yards (62.6% completion), 35 touchdowns, 24 interceptions -- 84.6 rating
Cam Newton: 7,920 yards (58.9% completion), 40 touchdowns, 29 interceptions -- 85.3 rating
Granted, Flacco won 20 games in those first two seasons vs. Newton's 13, but when you account for Cam's additional impact on the ground, and the dominance of Baltimore's defense -- these two players are a lot closer over their first two years than most would think.
The bright side? Carolina has ample time to worry about Newton's extension. Between the five-year rookie contract (with fifth year option), and two potential franchise tags -- the earliest the Panthers would need to get a deal done is following the 2015 season, and even then they could keep him through 2017 with tags. Any fears of Cam leaving are premature, and don't have much basis in reality. It's rare to see players leave teams of their own choice in the NFL when fair contracts are on the table, especially quarterbacks. The fear in this area is made manifest by Julius Peppers, but this isn't the NBA, and Cam Newton isn't LeBron James -- no matter how much people want to paint him as such.
What kind of raise is Newton in line for? In 2014 Newton is set to make $7.07 million. In the next three years it's likely Flacco's contract will be eclipsed by Matthew Stafford, who is almost assured to receive a new deal after 2014. It's not outside the realm of possibility that Cam Newton will command a six year deal worth anywhere from $125-140 million. This would represent a near $20-million increase each year, eating up roughly 1/6th of the Panthers cap space.
There is still another silver lining, as it's expected the salary cap will increase significantly in two years time. Due to new television deals, the Panthers will have more to spend -- though this will all need to be sunk into Newton. Is Joe Flacco deserving of a $20-million contract? It's inconsequential in the long run. Two sides came together, and paid one of the league's top-ten quarterbacks a salary putting him in line with the top three. The Panthers will find themselves in the same position, and Dave Gettleman better have the organization prepared to weather the storm.