Joe Flacco may or may not be an elite NFL quarterback. It's a debate that has picked up in intensity as he has masterfully guided Baltimore through the playoffs and is going to erupt if the Ravens knock off the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday.
But the fact of the matter is that Flacco has put himself in the position to get paid like an elite quarterback.
ESPN's John Clayton says that the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent quarterback likely will seek an annual salary in the neighborhood of $20 million. That's Drew Brees money. And anything higher than that would make Flacco the highest-paid QB in the league, based on average annual salary.
And, Clayton added, Flacco is very likely to get at least that much. Maybe not right away -- Baltimore can slap the franchise tag on him, which would net him about $14.6 million next year. But the Ravens can't avoid paying him the elite money forever.
There's no way they can let him get away. Sure, he doesn't rank close to the top in any major statistical category, but the guy wins. A lot. And he wins when it matters --a.k.a. the postseason.
Flacco has led the Ravens into the playoffs in each of his five NFL seasons and into the AFC championship game three times. He has an 8-4 postseason record and has won six road playoff games.
Now Flacco is playing in the Super Bowl -- and has looked pretty good getting there. His completion percentage in the Ravens' three playoff games still isn't great (54.8), but he has thrown for 853 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 114.7, the highest of any quarterback this postseason.
Quite an impressive performance. One might even call it (dare I say the word) ... elite.