The discussion about whether or not Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback is not only about recognition, but about the next contract he deserves to get from the Baltimore Ravens, and whether or not it should be paying him elite quarterback money. His performance in the Super Bowl and throughout the four playoff games point to yes.

Flacco became only the second quarterback in NFL playoff history to throw 11 touchdowns without any interception; Joe Montana is the other quarterback, but he needed only three games in that specific postseason. Flacco also finished with a 95.1 QBR in the postseason, seven points higher than any Super Bowl quarterback in the QBR era, which dates back to 2008. Flacco finished 7 of 13 for 171 yards and two scores on passes of 10 or more yards downfield, living up to his big arm label.

But now, it’s not about the numbers on the field, but the numbers he can get in the negotiation room. This past offseason, 33-year-old Drew Brees signed a five-year, $100 million contract with $60 million of it guaranteed. There are many that will argue that despite not having the kind of numbers Brees has when it comes to yards and touchdowns, Flacco is just as important to the Ravens, offering one interesting point.

When the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000, they were a team with an all-time great defense and a mediocre quarterback, who was just asked to hand off the ball and make as few mistakes as possible. The Ravens are still known for their defense, but because of the personalities on it, not the actual quality of play, ranked in the bottom half when it came to total defense this season. Flacco is the main reason they got to the Super Bowl – he outplayed every quarterback he faced in the postseason – from rookie Andrew Luck, to future hall of fame players Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, to the one everyone is so excited about, forgetting hsi flaws, Colin Kaepernick.

Flacco is 28, which means he has plenty more left in the engine and is likely to get better, as long as the Ravens don’t lose too many moving parts. He’s worth more because he is on a consistently good team, which has made the postseason together with him and John Harbaugh for the last five seasons. The opportunity cost of a truly bad QB on a good team is so significant that it’s not worth the economic risk of letting a pretty good one leave.

Flacco will probably always be recognized as part of a system quarterback and not a legendary one carrying teams on his charisma and ability alone. So what? He proved that he can win in the postseason, on the road, on the biggest of stages. He has the Super Bowl MVP to prove it. He is worth a big extension, whether it’s for $18 million or $20 million a season. The Ravens simply can’t afford to lose him after he has delivered.

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