Rice thinks he's outplayed his rookie deal; Flacco says he's 'the best.'  (Getty Images)

Joe Flacco recently told a Baltimore radio station that "I don't think I'm top five, I think I'm the best." He didn't offer this assessment unsolicited, of course -- he was asked about it. And as Flacco pointed out, "What do you expect me to say?"

Fair enough. But we live in an age where nothing's local and everything's subject to criticism. So it should come as no surprise that Flacco's observations weren't well received even if he didn't say anything wrong (it spawned the inevitable Twitter meme Wednesday). Yes, it's great that Flacco thinks he's the world's best quarterback, but the Ravens have no intentions of paying him like one (or even a top-5 QB, as his agent had previously stated). 

On Wednesday, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome was asked about Flacco's self-assessment skills.

"Any player, any coach, any GM do not think they aren’t the best at what they do," Newsome said according to the team's website (by way of CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Jason Butt). "For Joe to say that, I think that’s a common thing.

"The aspect of it that I think we all also look at is, if you make a statement like that, then you also have to prepare yourself to be the best. I’m sure that Joe is also doing that."

Flacco has shown flashes of brilliance during his four-year NFL career but his critics are frustrated by his inconsistency. (The Ravens lost to the Titans, Jaguars and Seahawks last season, all games in which Flacco struggled.) But that's the deal: want to be an NFL quarterback? Then you have to be willing to accept all that comes with it -- good and bad. And the scrutiny is only going to intensify when the Ravens sign him to a lucrative extension.

On Tuesday, Flacco's backfield mate, running back Ray Rice, told CBSSports.com's Will Brinson that he feels he's outplayed his rookie contract. The Ravens franchised Rice last month, but he has yet to sign his tender, which will pay him roughly $7.7 million in 2012.

"You look at the guys who got paid," Rice said. "I didn't set the numbers. There are guys that have comparable numbers to me -- or guys who my stats are better than -- who are making more money than me. It's out there, it's a given. And for the last three years since I became a starter, the numbers don't even compare."

Newsome spoke to Rice's comments, too.

"That was a rookie contract, so yes, I’d like to think that every player with the Ravens that we draft, hopefully outplays their first contract," he said. "So yes, he has."

It also sounds like the two sides are legitimately working to hammer out a long-term deal.

"We’re happy with the progress we’re making with negotiations,” Newsome said. "From where he was, to where we put the franchise tag on him, that’s a significant increase."

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