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Ravens sign QB Flacco to Elite contract

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Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens signed a new six year $120.6 million contract today that, for the time being, makes him the highest paid player in professional football. "It's not really about the money, it's about that respect,' Flacco is reported to have said minutes after signing.

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Details of the contract are just now starting to be disclosed, but according to NFL.com , $52 million is guaranteed, with a $29 million signing bonus and a total of $62 million will be paid through Year 3, with a Year 1 income projected to be $30 million.

Interestingly enough, and surely a blow to the hopes of Steeler Nation that the Ravens would be "cap-crippled" by any large contract, Flacco's salary cap number for 2013 is expected to be only $6.8 million.

Flacco, the only quarterback to win a playoff game in each of his first five years, turned down an offer from the Ravens at the beginning of the season, purportedly because he felt it did not adequately reflect his true worth. Flacco, apparently gambling that he could remain healthy (he has never missed a game) and maintain his streak of winning playoff games, would have been an unrestricted free agent this coming 2013 league year.

The Ravens could have chosen to place the franchise tag on him, but with teams such as Cleveland almost $50 million below the current salary cap, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome apparently elected not to run the risk that some team might find the cost of two first round picks well worth the opportunity to land a proven franchise quarterback who is only 28 years old but has already won a Super Bowl and made it to three conference championship games in his first five years.

By year four (2016), Flacco will apparently cost the Ravens $29 million towards that year's salary cap. The new television contract the NFL signed in 2011 is expected to begin in 2014. While news reports indicate that the value of the total contract will be 64% higher than the current contract, no details are available yet as to when any of that increased revenue will make its way into the salary cap, which at $123.9 million in 2013 is lower than it was in 2009, the last year under the old CBA.

Of course, the Ravens could have concluded that since Flacco will only be 31 in 2016, they could simply offer to extend the contract several more years and convert much that $29 million cap hit into a bonus and spread the difference out over the extended term of the contract.