Fresh off winning a Super Bowl title, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco signed a contract making him the highest-paid player in NFL history. The extension, valued at $120 million over six years, will pay the 28-year-old an average of $20 million a season.
Flacco, who is from New Jersey and went to the University of Delaware, is coming off a postseason in which he threw 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions, about as flawless as a quarterback can play over the course of four pressure-packed games. Despite Flacco’s relative youth and recent sparkling play, he does not deserve to be the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL, mainly because he is not one of the five best quarterbacks in the league.
While Flacco may have played great this past postseason, his regular season numbers are pedestrian and unremarkable. In his five-year career, Flacco has passed for 102 touchdowns versus 56 interceptions, an unexceptional ratio, while never passing for 4,000 yards, a feat which 10 NFL quarterbacks accomplished this past year alone. Also, his career completion percentage of 60.5 percent is very low by today’s standards, and his passer rating of 86.3 is 10th among active quarterbacks.
Flacco has also been helped tremendously throughout his career by one of the best running backs in the league, Ray Rice, and a top-five defense. Rice is both an exceptional runner and a legitimate pass-catching threat who has been Baltimore’s primary offensive player over the past five years. The Ravens’ defense, led by Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, has also greatly assisted Flacco with their ability to hold a lead when Flacco plays well and keeps the game close when Flacco plays poorly.
Furthermore, Flacco faces incredibly tough competition for top-five quarterback status. Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger, all of whom are Super Bowl champions and future first-ballot Hall of Famers, are indisputably better than Flacco in just about every statistical category. Matt Ryan and Tony Romo, while not as successful as Flacco in the postseason, have statistically performed better during the regular season.
Two Ramapo students also weighed in on the subject. Junior Anthony Cassano believes that “Flacco’s good in the playoffs, which is why he got paid, but he’s not top five,” while junior Ryan Dublirer feels that “Flacco needs to do better in the regular season to be considered elite.”
Overall, Flacco ranks somewhere between the sixth and 10th best quarterback in the NFL, which is a great accomplishment in today’s quarterback-driven league, yet obviously does not mean he should be the highest-paid player. Only time will tell if he was worth $120 million.