One decade ago, Flacco was a tall, promising quarterback at Audubon High School. One decade later, he signed the six-year deal that reportedly guarantees him $52 million, including a $29 million signing bonus.
"It was never necessarily about the money and all that," Flacco said, "but it was definitely about earning that respect and feeling like I was respected around here."
Flacco mentioned "respect" four times on Monday, and that seemed to be his driving force in the deal. The 28-year-old quarterback remained characteristically understated about the actual money. When asked how he would celebrate, he said he was going out to dinner. When asked what he would buy, he said, "Nothing immediately." Asked what his wife would purchase, he answered with a laugh, "Hopefully, not much."
But Flacco understands the market value for elite quarterbacks, and he considers himself in that category. His motivation for this contract was about being fairly compensated.
That's why Flacco rejected a contract extension last summer. It was a risk, particularly if he was hurt, but one that he was willing to take as much on principle as on speculation.
"I thought I was worth more and didn't really see any circumstances where I wouldn't end up getting paid more than what they were willing to give me at that point," Flacco said. "So, I figured play one more year and see what we can do as a football team, have confidence in myself, have confidence in the guys around me, and just let it play itself out from there."
Flacco's confidence was warranted. He threw for a career-high 3,817 yards during the regular season, and he passed for 11 postseason touchdowns without throwing an interception. That included a three-touchdown effort in the Super Bowl.
"I didn't know if we were going to go win the Super Bowl and all of that, so that kind of helped the situation out, I think, a little bit," Flacco said. "Listen, winning the Super Bowl, winning the Super Bowl MVP doesn't make me as valuable as I am. . . . I think I'm an asset to this team, and I'm worth what I'm worth. The fact that we won the Super Bowl just comes with that. If we didn't win the Super Bowl this year, I still think I'm worth the same, and I still think I'm the same person to this organization."
Since the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, Flacco has appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and taken a trip to Disney World. He also took a vacation to Las Vegas with teammate Dennis Pitta and former teammate Todd Heap. Other than that, Flacco said, the month has been uneventful - except when he realizes what he has accomplished.
"We've done that so many times over the past month, just looked at each other - my dad, my wife - and just shook our heads and laughed," Flacco said. "Super Bowl champs. It doesn't get any better than that, and that's still kind of where we are with the whole thing."
$120.6 million over six years.
$29 million signing bonus.
$52 million in guaranteed money.
$51 million over the first two years of the contract.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions, 2012: eight years,
Michael Vick, QB, Falcons, 2005: ten years,
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals, 2011: eight years, $120 million.
Contact Zach Berman at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.