Ravens Update

Joe Flacco: 'I see myself being here for many years'

Joe Flacco isn't consumed to distraction by ongoing contract talks between his agent, Joe Linta, and the Baltimore Ravens.

And the quarterback isn't concerned about the pace of discussions or whether a deal will be struck in a particular amount of time as he prepares to report to training camp Monday. As he enters the final year of his rookie contract, Flacco does sound confident that working out a long-term pact is an eventuality, not a possibility.

"I'm not worried about it," Flacco said Saturday night during a Special Olympics of Maryland charity event at Al Packer Ford. "I told Joe don't even call me. I'm not worried about it. Unless you have some kind of crazy news, then don't concern me with it. "I'm going to go out there, I'm going to play, I'm going to practice. There really is no time table. If it happens, it happens. I see myself being here for man

y years, no matter what happens." Although there have been reports that a contract for Flacco is expected to be hammered out before the opening of camp, no deal is imminent at this time.

Talks have been characterized as amicable between Linta and Ravens vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty.

Flacco said he doesn't regularly check on the status of discussions to avoid distractions. "I don't know," said Flacco, who's due a $6.76 million base salary this season. "There's been talks. My agent has definitely been talking and they've gone back and forth a little bit. I can't really comment on how close it is. I don't really know. I'm not talking to Joe every day. "Joe updates me every now and then. If he comes to me and something is really crazy about an update, then OK. But it's not like I'm talking to him every day and I could actually tell you how close it is. We have talked and that's really about it."

The Ravens are currently $3.381 million under the NFL salary-cap limit. They should be able to construct a deal for Flacco under the cap. "Joe is very, very excited for the season," Linta said in a telephone interview last week. "He's really adamant about getting the Ravens to the next step. The contract at this point is secondary to that goal. Joe has the attitude that he'll earn it.

"We've had great conversations, and we're going to keep talking," Linta said. "Everything is good. We're going to keep talking, keep the lines of communication open."

Flacco passed for 3,610 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last season, coming within a dropped Lee Evans pass in the end zone during the AFC title game of reaching the Super Bowl. Flacco is maintaining his usual stoic approach to the business side of the game, focusing on the defending AFC North champions' upcoming season. "Yeah, no doubt, I'm getting ready for training camp," said Flacco, the Ravens' all-time leading passer with 13,816 yards and 80 touchdowns. "I'm getting ready to have a great year and hopefully lead our team to the Super Bowl.

"That's all I'm worried about. The other stuff is going to work itself out. That's really not up to me. My job is to go out there and play and do my best on the field."

The Ravens signed All-Pro running back Ray Rice to a five-year, $40 million contract last week, a blockbuster deal that included a $15 million signing bonus and a $25 million payout within the first two years

Now, Flacco is expected to be the next Raven to be rewarded with a multi-year deal. "I was happy for him," Flacco said. "I sent him a text right away, 'Congratulations.'"He deserves it. He played his ass off the last couple of years. It's just good to see that he has the security and that he can feel comfortable." Saturday night marked the first time Flacco has been away from his family since his wife, Dana, gave birth to an eight-pound boy named Stephen Vincent Flacco on June 14. He's the first child for the couple since they got married last year.

"I'm getting sleep, yeah," Flacco said. "My wife does a great job. I can't complain. Everything's pretty good. He's doing awesome. It's unreal. It's one of the best experiences ever and it's been awesome.

"I didn't really know what I thought it would be like. My wife is doing pretty much all the work right now. I'm just there for support whenever she needs it. I'm not really doing too much. It's just been awesome. I didn't really know what I expected, but it's been nothing but good." Flacco has supported the cause of Special Olympics for several years, including taking part previously in the annual Polar Bear Plunge at Sandy Point Park.

He posed for several photographs with Special Olympics athletes Saturday night. "Special Olympics is such a cool organization," Flacco said. "A lot of kids come out here and give it their all, you know" The amount of fun that they have when they go out there and do it is out of this world. That's what it's really what it's about.

"It's about having fun. It's about showing little kids that want to play this sport how much fun it is. And I think when you get a chance to hang around the kids that compete at this kind of thing, it allows me to kind of step back for a second and realize how lucky we are to be doing what we're doing."

Flacco participated in the Ravens' entire offseason program before his wife went into labor during the Ravens' full-team minicamp. Now, he'll get back on the field Tuesday when rookies, quarterbacks and injured veterans from last season start camp.

"Yeah, it goes by pretty quick," Flacco said. "It's unbelievable. It feels like we just got done and now we're back at training camp. "It's going to be an exciting year. I can't wait. I'm excited to get out there and really start getting after it and make our way toward another successful year."

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