"I'm going to Disney World!" shouted Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco moments after his Ravens claimed their second ever Super Bowl with a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
After his stellar playoffs performance in which he threw 11 touchdowns to no interceptions, Flacco looks to be cashing in on something bigger than a trip to Disney World.
His rookie contract is set to expire, leaving the potential for Flacco to hit the open market, but after Sunday's performance (and his performance for much of the year) there is a very slim chance that he would not be a Raven for years to come.
The number that has been consistently brought up is $20 million a year and likely a five-year deal worth $100 million. There is no telling whether or not that is the number he will ultimately hit, but he has come a long way from where he was just a few years ago.
"He's not elite!" "He can't win the big game!" Those phrases, amongst others, were thrown at Flacco for years, despite having won at least one playoff game a year in his first four seasons. He was offered a contract extension at the beginning of the season, but, according to his father, turned it down knowing he would not be getting any "new" money with the extension.
He put himself at risk, realizing that if he had a poor season, he could lose out on millions, but he also understood that a strong postseason could push him into the elite category.
Much like Flacco last offseason, Jay Cutler finds himself in a similar position. While he clearly does not have the same playoff success (1-1 record), 2013 is the last year of his deal in Chicago and with a new coaching staff in place that wants to emphasize offense, the time is now for Cutler to take that next step.
Does Cutler need to go out and win three playoffs games, including two on the road, on the way to a Super Bowl victory to justify a hefty new contract? No (although it sure would be nice) but he needs to find consistency when it counts.
Flacco's numbers this season were not anything special (3,817 yards, 22 touchdowns, 1o interceptions), but he stayed consistent with his career averages (3,454 yards, 20 touchdowns, 11.5 interceptions), and when push came to shove, he was able to win games.
Despite glimpses here and there, Cutler has never been a guy I have felt comfortable with when the game is on the line. Marc Trestman is supposed to help "fix" him, namely his mechanics and decision making, and with a noted quarterback's coach helping him, there is no more room for excuses.
No one will argue that Flacco has benefited from better personnel around him, particularly on the offensive line, but with Phil Emery and Marc Trestman's desire to improve the offense line this offseason, Cutler may finally get the pieces that he needs.
Flacco never made a big fuss during the season about a deal, and he went out and proved to the Ravens organization that he is worth just as much as the other elite quarterbacks in the League.
Let's just hope that Jay was taking notes.