PHOENIX – While John Harbaugh knows that having an expensive, franchise quarterback on the payroll creates some salary-cap challenges, the Baltimore Ravens head coach isn’t the least bit worried about how much Joe Flacco is costing his team.
And the way the Super Bowl XLVII-winning coach figures it, the Green Bay Packers won’t be too upset when they have to pay their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, a king’s ransom soon, either.
“I’d say it’s a good problem to have,” Harbaugh said during the AFC coaches breakfast at the annual NFL Meetings at the Arizona Biltmore hotel Tuesday morning. “You know, it’s the problem everybody wants to have.”
Earlier this month, the Ravens gave Flacco, the Super Bowl MVP, a six-year, $120.6 million deal that included $52 million in guaranteed money. Although he has a cap number of less than $7 million this season because of how the deal is structured, the money is still going to be a burden later on in the deal.
The Packers will have to sign Rodgers, whose current contract is set to expire after the 2014 season, to an even more lucrative extension in the near future, as he’s outplayed the six-year, $65 million deal he signed in 2008, after seven games as the starter.
Both Flacco and Rodgers have been starters since 2008. Flacco turned 28 in January, Rodgers is 29 and won’t turn 30 until December.
“You have to have great quarterback play to win in this league,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh’s brother, Jim, has that, too – but is in a different situation with the San Francisco 49ers. He has Colin Kaepernick, who was in his second NFL season when he became the starter midway through last year, so he’s still on his rookie deal. As a second-round pick, Kaepernick has two years left on a four-year, $5.22 million contract that contained just $3.8 million guaranteed. His base salaries are $740,844 this year and $973,766 next year.
In Seattle, rookie third-round pick Russell Wilson won the starting job in training camp and gives the Seahawks similar cap flexibility. He’s entering the second year of his four-year, $2.198 million contract, which included a $619,472 signing bonus. His base salaries are $526,217 in 2013, $662,434 in 2014 and $798,651 in 2015.
“When you’ve got the young quarterback you just drafted and he plays well, you look at some of the teams that have the young quarterbacks, their cap situation is really good because they’ve got a player for a couple years that’s not going to be making that top dollar,” Harbaugh said. “But you get to that fifth year of that contract, and now it’s time for those things to start to change.
“We’re very willing to do what we need to do. It’s the nature of the league to (want to) have a quarterback like Joe Flacco. And we’re going to build a great team around him, too. We’ve done that in the past and we’re going to continue to do that.”
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