How hard will Ravens push to get deal done with Flacco?

Joe Flacco has said on more than a few occasions that he’d like to begin talks with the Ravens about a contract extension.

Apparently, he’ll get his wish.

According to reports, the Ravens will meet with Flacco’s agent, Joe Linta, at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis next week to discuss a long-term deal for the four-year veteran quarterback.

With Flacco still under contract for the 2012 season, however, the question is how hard the team will push to get a deal done.

These negotiations are a step in the right direction, but the step might not be all that large. General manager Ozzie Newsome and Pat Moriarty, the team’s salary cap guru, will listen to what Linta has to say and might start to lay the groundwork for a deal, but these things don’t come together overnight.

Long-term contracts, especially those involving franchise quarterbacks, take time and often begin with the two sides standing on opposite ends of the negotiating spectrum.

Linta probably views his client as worthy of being in the same class as Eli Manning and Philip Rivers (Manning got a seven-year, $106.9 million deal with $35 million guaranteed, while Rivers signed a seven-year, $98.25 million contract with $38.15 million guaranteed) while the Ravens might counter with a deal closer to the one signed by Kevin Kolb, who scored a six-year, $63.5 million contract with $21 million guaranteed.

It will be interesting to see how the Ravens attack the Flacco negotiations, especially given the situation surrounding running back Ray Rice, who is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The Ravens will likely give both Flacco and Rice big-money deals at some point, but how will they time those deals?

Will they put the franchise tag on Rice this season and leave it there, giving the running back a one-year deal worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $8 million and allowing them to sign Flacco this year? Will they take care of Rice’s long-term deal first and make Flacco wait until 2013? Will they be able to navigate the cap, enabling them to get both contracts done this season?

It’s clear the team wants both Flacco and Rice around for years to come, but there are a lot of hurdles that need to be cleared before the team is able to lock up both players. These initial discussions with Flacco’s representative are nice, and could also indicate to the quarterback’s camp whether they can expect anything to get done prior to the start of the 2012 season.

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