Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco grabbed what he long desired. The Vince Lombardi Trophy solidified his stance in the game and generated the last bit of bargaining power he’d need before storming through the doors of team owner Steve Bisciotti’s office.

Yet, it’s what Flacco does from here that will leave the greatest mark on his legacy. The 28-year-old, five-year NFL veteran is a Super Bowl MVP who just played the final game of his rookie contract, and his next deal will set him up for life. But his performance through the impending contract is going to determine his reputation for the long term.

Flacco became the 30th starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl, and he is one of seven who are still playing, but only 11 have earned (at least) two rings. The 2008 first-round pick has been as scrutinized as nearly anyone at his position in today’s game, and he fuels some of that by responding to his critics.

On Sunday night, however, he delivered his greatest answer when the Ravens outlasted the San Francisco 49ers, 34-31. While teammates continuously screamed, “No one can take this away from us,” the sentiment might have held the most truth for Flacco, who capped a four-game postseason run with 1,140 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, no interceptions and a 57.9 completion percentage.

Now comes the tricky part, especially with the speculation that Flacco could command a deal upward of five years and $90 million to $100 million. It’s hard to argue his merits, but Baltimore’s free agents also include safety Ed Reed, outside linebacker Paul Kruger, inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, cornerback Cary Williams and left tackle Bryant McKinnie. Add linebacker Ray Lewis’ retirement and the possible release of wide receiver Anquan Boldin to save salary cap room, and Flacco might need to explore the notion of a hometown discount to keep the Ravens competitive in the AFC North.