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Ravens Gain Cap Relief By Extending Flacco; QB Gets $40 Million Signing Bonus
The Ravens and Joe Flacco had some business to attend to in advance of the start of free agency. They got it done. As first reported by, Flacco and the Ravens have agreed to terms on a new three-year contract extension.

The new deal will keep the quarterback under team control through the 2021 season, which will be sufficient to keep the team's top receiving threats fantasy-football relevant.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport added that Flacco received a signing bonus of $40 million. According to's Jason La Canfora, Flacco's new deal is expected to save the Ravens roughly $6 million in cap space this season and $13 million in the next two years.

As notes, the new deal was expected. When Flacco, 31, signed a huge contract after the Ravens' Super Bowl XLVII win over the 49ers in 2013, the deal was backloaded against the salary cap in a manner that all but demanded renegotiation after the 2015 season. If Flacco played under his previous deal this upcoming season, he'd count a whopping $28.6 million against the cap. Only Drew Brees ($30 million with New Orleans) counted more against his team's cap.

The 31-year-old Flacco has been a winner since arriving in Baltimore in 2008 and is now entering his prime.

Over the past eight seasons, his 85 total wins (including the playoffs) is the fourth most among starting NFL quarterbacks. Flacco posted the most regular-season wins (72) by a quarterback in his first seven seasons in NFL history.

Flacco has been particularly strong in the postseason, racking up the most playoff wins (10) of any quarterback in the NFL since he entered the league. His seven playoff road wins are the most by a quarterback in NFL history.

The Super Bowl XLVII MVP's run through the 2012 playoffs was particularly impressive, as he tied Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana as the only players with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in the postseason.

Last year, Flacco was on pace to set a career and franchise highs in single-season passing yards before he tore his ACL and MCL in Week 11 (though he remained in the game for two more snaps to get the win). At the time, his 2,791 yards ranked sixth in the league.

Flacco's injury ended his Ironman-like streak of 122 consecutive starts, which ranked fifth in the league.

He had surgery in December, and is expected to be ready for the start of the 2016 season.

With Flacco taken care of, the Ravens can fully focus on getting a deal done with a player who helps take care of the quarterback. Standout guard Kelechi Osemele is an impending free agent who will command big dollars. We'll see if Flacco's new deal paves the way for Osemele's return.

Meanwhile, it's worth noting that Steve Smith called his torn Achilles the toughest injury of his 15-year NFL career. Smith also acknowledged this week that he remains in the early stages of his recovery.

But the receiver seemed confident Monday that he would be ready for the start of the regular season. In fact, he poked fun at his targeted return to the field. "In my little world, I would love to be 100 percent and absolutely do nothing in training camp," Smith said. "That would be perfect. I'm not sure how that will flow with [head coach John] Harbaugh."

Smith, 36, tore his right Achilles tendon against the San Diego Chargers on Nov. 1 and missed what was supposed to be his final season in the NFL. He had surgery on Nov. 9 and announced in late December that he was delaying retirement for a year. His focus is to remain patient and not try to do too much too soon.

He's trying to walk without a limp -- according to's Jamison Hensley, he didn't show much of any walking around Monday -- and he has yet to attempt to run.

Asked if he would be ready for the start of the regular season, Smith said, "Yeah, I think I'll be fine." General manager Ozzie Newsome said last week at the NFL Scouting Combine that he expected Smith to be ready for the start of the regular season.

Dr. Robert Anderson, who surgically repaired Smith's Achilles, gave him a positive report recently.

"No setbacks. No real pain where you’d say, ‘Oh, that’s a concern,'" Smith said. "Just all good stuff to start and move forward.”

In addition, Harbaugh said at the combine that running back Justin Forsett will "absolutely" be part of the team in 2016. But Harbaugh was less definitive when asked if Forsett was going to be the Ravens' featured back.

"There's not a better person, there's not a better guy [than Forsett]," Harbaugh said. "He understands everything we're doing inside and out. I love him. But we're going to put the guy out there that is gaining the most yards."

As Hensley suggests, that sets up a competition between Forsett and Buck Allen, a fourth-round pick from a year ago.

After Forsett broke his arm last November, Allen produced the fourth-most total yards (627) of any running back in the final seven games of the season. He did struggle with ball security with two fumbles, and only averaged 3.5 yards per carry over that span.

The Ravens are certainly not writing him off, but Forsett is 30, which is when many running backs are in decline, and he's coming off a serious injury. The Ravens expect Forsett to return and be fully recovered when the offseason workouts begin this spring.

"His wrist is good," Harbaugh said. "He has one of those injuries that is really predictable." What isn't predictable is how the Ravens' backfield will look when the season begins.

According to Hensley, this has the makings of one of the most competitive battles at running back in team history. And it will be one fantasy football owners follow closely. ...

Other notes of interest. ... Breshad Perriman, who missed his entire rookie season after injuring his knee in the first training camp practice, still isn't cleared to play football. However, he should be ready to do so when football activities resume.

"I can anticipate at some point this spring that he'll be out there, ready to play," Newsome said.

After being placed on injured reserve in November, Perriman said he suffered a partially torn PCL on July 30, then tore it more while trying to test the knee out before a game on Sept. 27. He didn’t practice again after having a minor arthroscopic surgery. ...

Meanwhile, Crockett Gillmore could miss much of the offseason training program.

"He's having to have some surgeries done," Newsome said. "Hopefully he'll be ready to go when training camp comes around, but that determination will be made by our doctors and our trainers."

Gillmore was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 21 after suffering a back injury a couple weeks earlier. He was also dealing with a shoulder injury.

The Ravens’ starting tight end had a breakout sophomore season with 33 catches for 412 years and four touchdowns. With him sidelined for the summer, Dennis Pitta's future uncertain and rising sophomore Nick Boyle suspended for the first 10 games of the regular season, Maxx Williams is suddenly even more integral.

And finally. ... The Ravens used their Franchise tag on kicker Justin Tucker. He’ll now make around $4.5 million for the year barring a long-term extension. The two sides have until July 15 to negotiate.