NEW ORLEANS — When Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome walks through the locker room past Joe Flacco, other players start up a chant: “Pay the man, pay the man.”
No worries: Flacco will be getting paid.
The question is, by which team?
Yet Flacco’s expiring contract doesn’t seem to concern anyone with the Ravens, including the quarterback himself.
Flacco practically shrugged Thursday when asked about potentially being a free agent after the Ravens play the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.
“It’s real simple,” said Flacco, who made $6.76 million this year in the final season of his rookie contract. “We didn’t agree on a number and I didn’t really care to discuss it any further once it got to that point. Bottom line is I’m not the guy going up into their offices and negotiating with them every day anyways. It was really never a concern of mine and I never really thought about it. Even in the off-season, when you think about it a little bit, they are really all good thoughts.
“It’s a good problem to have and to be talking about.”
The guy talking about it with Ravens management is agent Joe Linta. He and Newsome recently had brief discussions about a new deal, but nothing was done.
“The onus is on them to make a move after this week,” said Linta, who recognizes that the Ravens could slap the franchise tag on Flacco for 2013 at a cost of about $14.6 million. “I would guess they want to keep him. He’s 28, in the prime of his football life, has never missed a game. His résumé on the table is outstanding and his future is even brighter.”
If that résumé includes a Super Bowl win, Flacco might cost the Ravens in the $20 million per year range that Tom Brady and the Mannings are at.
Flacco, a first-round draft pick in 2008 out of Delaware, already is the only quarterback to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons. He passed Eli Manning for most road victories in the postseason when Baltimore won the AFC championship at New England.
Coach John Harbaugh says the uncertain contract status for the only quarterback to win six road playoff games “has been amazingly unchallenging.”
“I think that’s a credit to Joe first of all. Joe doesn’t worry about that stuff,” Harbaugh said. “It’s not something that matters to him. He’s not a guy that’s all wrapped up in that. I think he feels that it’s going to work out; you do all your talking on the field. It’s about football.
“He figured that he’ll go out there and take care of business this year, lead the team, play as well as he could play and see what happens.”
What has happened thus far is a rarity: a Super Bowl quarterback possibly (although unlikely) on the open market.
One guy who won’t be around if Flacco returns next season is star linebacker Ray Lewis, who will retire after the Super Bowl. But Lewis echoes his teammates’ belief that Flacco isn’t going anywhere.
“Joe is going to be the quarterback in Baltimore for a long, long time,” Lewis said. “He’s proven it, he’s earned it. I think he has the ability to be not just a great talent, but an awesome leader, too.
“Ozzie will do the right thing.”
And if Newsome needs any reminding, hearing those chants in the locker room will do the job.