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Flacco-Ravens contract talks should be interesting

QB declined to sign extension before season, now could move into Brees-Manning territory

Dan Pompei

On the NFL

4:20 PM CST, February 2, 2013

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NEW ORLEANS — If the thought of playing out the last year of his contract makes Jay Cutler uncomfortable, he might want to consider the case of Joe Flacco.

The Ravens quarterback is in the last year of his deal. But he's not uncomfortable now.

In the process of putting the finishing touches on a fine season, the 28-year-old has set himself up to be one of the NFL's highest paid passers.

The Ravens tried to sign Flacco to an extension before the season but couldn't come to an agreement.

"It's real simple," Flacco said. "We didn't agree on a number and I didn't really care to discuss it any further once it got to that point. Bottom line is I'm not the guy going up into their offices and negotiating with them every day anyway. It was really never a concern of mine and I never really thought about it."

Because of Flacco's unflappable nature, his contract situation appeared to have no effect on his performance.

"Joe is very even-keeled," Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta explained. "He's not an emotional player. He was able to focus on winning games, practicing well and doing all the important things."

Ravens owner Steven Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome and DeCosta are among those who have expressed confidence in getting a deal done with Flacco.

"We want Joe back," DeCosta said. "That's the No. 1 priority for us. And I know Joe wants to be here. We're all excited about the future with Joe."

Newsome has said he and Flacco "are in a good spot."

But the Baltimore Sun has quoted a league source saying the sides are "miles apart" on total value and guaranteed money. And there have been leaks saying the Flacco camp believes he has outplayed Peyton Manning, who earns $19.2 million per year, and that they want him to be paid like Drew Brees, who signed a five-year deal before the season for a $20 million average with a $40 million guarantee.

The interesting part of Flacco's situation is both sides still have significant control over his next contract.

The Ravens can control his salary with a franchise tag that would pay him $14.6 million for one year.

And Flacco can affect his value with his performance in Super Bowl XLVII.

The money — and the ring — are within his grasp.

Numbers games: Moss' place in history

Receiver Randy Moss of the 49ers claimed this week he was the greatest pass catcher in NFL history.

The numbers argue otherwise.

Moss has 15,292 receiving yards, which ranks third all time. He is 7,603 behind Jerry Rice, who is the greatest receiver by most statistical measures.

Moss has scored 156 touchdowns, also third all time, 41 behind Rice.

Moss has finished in the top five in the NFL in receptions five times. Rice did it nine times, more than any player in history.

Moss finished in the top five in receiving yards eight times, second most in league history. No. 1? That would be Rice, who did it 11 times.

Moss has a slight edge in percentage of his team's receiving yards. Excluding the 2010 season, when Moss played on three teams, he has accounted for 30.6 percent of his team's receiving yards. Rice accounted for 29.5 percent of his.

About the only statistics in which Moss has a significant edge reflect his downfield ability. He averaged 15.6 yards per catch compared to 14.8 for Rice. And he has 161 catches of 25 yards or more compared to 125 for Rice.

Moss' combination of speed, length and ability to "high point" the ball made him the best deep threat of his generation ... but not the greatest all-around receiver in history.

Front office chess: For kicks

The 49ers say they have confidence in David Akers. What they mean is they have more confidence in Akers than any other available kicker.

That is why Akers is kicking in Super Bowl XLVII.

The 49ers thought hard about replacing Akers. Toward the end of the season, they brought in Nate Kaeding, Justin Medlock and Billy Cundiff for tryouts. They even signed Cundiff and carried two kickers for a couple of weeks.

But ultimately they didn't believe they had a better solution than Akers, who missed 14 field goals this season, including a 38-yarder against the Falcons in the NFC championship game. He hit only 69 percent of his field goals, second worst in the NFL.

The problem is there are 41 kickers on NFL rosters now because many teams had injuries. Eight teams are carrying multiple kickers, with the Seahawks having three.

So Akers it is.

"David was the best kicker out there," 49ers special teams coach Brad Seeley said. "Of all the guys we could have had, David is the best kicker. I just hope his abilities come through in the game."

dpompei@tribune.com

Twitter @danpompei