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Flacco's expiring contract not an issue

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Flacco's expiring contract not an issue

NEW ORLEANS (AP) When Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome walks through the locker room past Joe Flacco, other players start up a chant: ``Pay the man, pay the man.''

No worries: Flacco will be getting paid.

The question is, by which team?

Yet Flacco's expiring contract doesn't seem to concern anyone with the Ravens, including the quarterback himself.

Flacco practically shrugged Thursday when asked about potentially being a free agent after the Ravens play the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.

``It's real simple,'' said Flacco, who made $6.76 million this year in the final season of his rookie contract. ``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 anyways. It was really never a concern of mine and I never really thought about it. Even in the offseason, when you think about it a little bit, they are really all good thoughts.

``It's a good problem to have and to be talking about.''

The guy talking about it with Ravens management is agent Joe Linta. He and Newsome recently had brief discussions about a new deal, but nothing was done.

``The onus is on them to make a move after this week,'' said Linta, who recognizes that the Ravens could slap the franchise tag on Flacco for 2013 at a cost of about $14.6 million. ``I would guess they want to keep him. He's 28, in the prime of his football life, has never missed a game. His resume on the table is outstanding and his future is even brighter.''

If that resume includes a Super Bowl win, Flacco might cost the Ravens in the $20 million per year range that Tom Brady and the Mannings are at. Flacco, a first-round draft pick in 2008 out of Delaware, already is the only quarterback to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons. He passed Eli Manning for most road victories in the postseason when Baltimore won the AFC championship at New England.

Coach John Harbaugh says the uncertain contract status for the only quarterback to win six road playoff games ``has been amazingly unchallenging.''

``I think that's a credit to Joe first of all. Joe doesn't worry about that stuff,'' Harbaugh said. ``It's not something that matters to him. He's not a guy that's all wrapped up in that. I think he feels that it's going to work out; you do all your talking on the field. It's about football.

``He figured that he'll go out there and take care of business this year, lead the team, play as well as he could play and see what happens.''

What has happened thus far is a rarity: a Super Bowl quarterback possibly (although unlikely) on the open market.

One guy who won't be around if Flacco returns next season is star linebacker Ray Lewis, who will retire after the Super Bowl. But Lewis echoes his teammates' belief that Flacco isn't going anywhere.

``Joe is going to be the quarterback in Baltimore for a long, long time,'' Lewis said. ``He's proven it, he's earned it. I think he has the ability to be not just a great talent, but an awesome leader, too.

``Ozzie will do the right thing.''

And if Newsome needs any reminding, hearing those chants in the locker room will do the job.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Ravens' Steve Smith answers backhanded compliment like the legend he is

Ravens' Steve Smith answers backhanded compliment like the legend he is

Custom cleats are taking over the NFL, and this Sunday, players will have a chance to wear them during the games. The league will allow players to customize cleats with designs that represent causes they care about. 

Ravens receiver Steve Smith has been outspoken about putting an end to domestic violence, so he plans to use his cleats as a platform for that message this weekend. 

The shiny gold shoes drew a lot of praise on Twitter, but one user decided to weigh in with a backhanded compliment. And as you'd expect, it was a mistake. 

For the uninitiated, there is a reason Smith warns people in his Twitter bio, "If you come @ me, it definitely won't end in your favor." Just ask Anthony Brown and Jalen Ramsey

MORE RAVENS: Five factors to predict Dolphins at Ravens

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Five factors to predict Dolphins at Ravens this Sunday

Five factors to predict Dolphins at Ravens this Sunday

What: Dolphins (7-4) at Ravens (6-5)

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Where: M&T Bank Stadium

Ravens injuries:

OUT – TE Crockett Gillmore (thigh), G Alex Lewis (ankle), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh).

DOUBTFUL – RB Buck Allen (non-football issue).

QUESTIONABLE – WR Kamar Aiken (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (ankle).

Dolphins injuries:

OUT – C Maurkice Pouncey (hip).

DOUBTFUL – CB Xavien Howard (knee).

QUESTIONABLE – OT Branden Albert (wrist), LB Kiko Alonso (hamstring), G Jermon Bushrod (calf), RB Kenyen Drake (knee); LB Jelani Jenkins (knee/hand); DT Earl Mitchell (back); WR DeVante Parker (back); G/T Laremy Tunsil (shoulder).

Five questions you should ask:

1. Are the Dolphins ready to win a big road game in December?

Despite their six-game winning streak, the Dolphins are just 2-3 away from home. Now you’re asking them to win at M&T Bank Stadium, where the Dolphins are 0-2 all-time? We’ll see. The Dolphins will gain credibility as an AFC playoff threat if they win this game.

2. Can the Ravens put together a complete offensive performance?

Quarterback Joe Flacco wasn’t satisfied with the Ravens’ 19-14 win over the Bengals in Week 12. Actually, he hasn’t been satisfied with the offense all season.

“When you have a team 16-3, you would like to choke them out and get it over with,” Flacco said.

He knows the Ravens have to play better offensively to go on a December run. And part of that improvement starts with Flacco.

3. Can the Ravens’ offensive line handle Cameron Wake (8½ sacks) and Ndamukong Suh (five sacks)?

The Dolphins’ defensive line has the ability to make Flacco’s day miserable. The Ravens’ offensive line will need one of its better performances.

4. Which team’s running game will be most effective?

This could be the key to victory, because both teams want to run and utilize play-action passing. Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (847 yards, 5.3 yards per carry) is a load, but the Ravens have the NFL’s top-ranked run defense. Ravens rookie running back Kenneth Dixon is coming off his best game (13 carries, 49 yards), and looks ready to share more carries with Terrance West (600 yards).

5. Can the Ravens get enough pressure on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill?

Tannehill has nine touchdown passes and just one interception during the Dolphins’ six-game winning streak. The Dolphins like to get Tannehill outside the pocket and take advantage of his ability to throw accurately on the move. Tannehill’s game has grown under new head coach Adam Gase. If the Ravens don’t throw Tannehill off his rhythm, he will make plays.

Prediction: Expect a typical close Ravens game, but I see them squeezing out a critical victory, on the strength of Justin Tucker’s leg.

Ravens 20, Dolphins 17 

MORE RAVENS: How Ravens could still win AFC North