Posted on 19 March 2014 by WNST Audio
Posted on 19 March 2014 by WNST Audio
Posted on 18 March 2014 by Brett Dickinson
Each week on the Brett & Barry Show (Saturdays 9am-12pm), we gather each others’ analysis on the biggest local and national stories and headlines of the week for a couple of minutes a piece in a segment we call Rapid Fire. We post our responses in blog form every week to a visual version, with links to our segment in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault.
LISTEN TO THE AUDIO SEGMENT HERE
Barry 1: As the Baltimore Orioles continue with spring training games in Florida, the Opening Day roster has started to take shape. South Korean P Suk-Min Yoon will start the year in Norfolk, and 3B Manny Machado appears headed for the DL to begin the season. The one major unknown for the Orioles is what they will do with prospect Jonathan Schoop, who has had a fantastic spring (.423 BA, .692 SLG, 6 RBIs). What are the chances that Schoop, the Orioles top position prospect, is on the Opening Day roster?
BD: Though I think he may be the best option by the time the Spring Training is complete, I think the Orioles will exercise patience with their best positional prospect at this point. They do not want to hurt his confidence, as well as affect his service time clock. They may be more inclined to follow the Manny Machado path with Schoop, bringing him up around the All-Star break. Now with the injury concerns at third base, anything is possible, though I think they exhaust all other options before possibly using Schoop.
Brett 1: After many reports had the Baltimore Orioles as the favorites to win the Ervin Santana sweepstakes, he landed with the Atlanta Braves. Key injuries to the rotation forced them to get serious about adding a pitcher, signing the free agent to a one year $14.1 Million deal. With thoughts being the Orioles were only willing to give Santana $13 Million deal, did they drop the ball on adding another quality starting arm?
BK: I am slightly disappointed that the Orioles did not go harder for Santana, but the fact that Santana signed with the Braves lessens the blow. Initial reports had the Santana sweepstakes limited to the Blue Jays and the Orioles, but the recent injuries to Atlanta’s rotation made sense for both sides. Had the Orioles lost out to their AL East foes, different story. Santana will have a better chance of extending his career and commanding a long-term deal by playing in the NL East, where a percentage of his starts will come against the Marlins, Mets, and Phillies.
Barry 2: On Twitter, former Alabama and Oakland Raider LB Rolando McClain has hinted at a return to the NFL. Last season, the Baltimore Ravens signed McClain, only to have him retire following an arrest that happened just two weeks after becoming a Raven. McClain is only 24, and appears to be in a much better mental state than he ever was as an NFL player. With the Ravens having the rights to Rolando McClain, can he be a contributor to the Ravens defense?
BD: The key to your question was ‘CAN’ he contribute. He may come back to the NFL with a new found enthusiasm towards the game; a willingness to put the game first in his life. He is certainly young enough and I feel the same way about him, as I did last year. It is worth a shot; give him a Training Camp invite and see what he has left. But I would not bank on him making the roster, though if he does, he would have earned his spot.
Brett 2: St. Louis Rams free agent offensive tackle, Rodger Saffold, initially agreed to a five year $42 Million deal with the Oakland Raiders. Only to have that mega-deal voided after he reported failed a physical. Since then he resigned with the Rams for much less money (five years $37 Million). Did the Raiders void Saffold’s deal just to get out of a bad contract considering the market value for other players that signed this off season?
BK: This story is way more bizarre than anything that the Orioles’ doctors did this offseason. The Raiders were concerned with a shoulder injury that Saffold had, while the Rams found no such injury. For the Raiders, the failed physical leaves the team out of a thin left tackle market, with all of the marquee free agents off of the market. Saffold’s return to the Rams also has a major impact on the NFL Draft. The Raiders will be in the market for either LT Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews, while the Rams can turn their attention to WR Sammy Watkins or DE Jadaveon Clowney.
Barry 3: Amidst all of the NFL free agent signings, two of the more brash players in the NFL were making headlines for a different reason. Seattle CB Richard Sherman and Washington CB DeAngelo Hall got into a war of words on Twitter (you can read the whole conversation HERE), with Hall questioning Sherman’s skills. What do you make of the Twitter beef between these two divas?
BD: I saw these reports and then followed the actual conversation. I instantly thought I was wasting my time, as these players are just going to talk. I do think Richard Sherman has the right to call himself the best cornerback in football, because he has proved so on the field. For DeAngelo Hall to try to argue that fact is simply nonsense, as a player that has been terrible for several years now. Though it was entertaining for about 30 seconds, it means nothing, as Sherman has a Super Bowl ring and DeAngelo Hall is still stealing money from the Redskins.
Brett 3: Steve Nash has officially been shut down for the season by the Los Angeles Lakers, as he played in only 10 games due to back/neck injuries. With still almost $10 Million dollars due to him next season, Nash says he will not retire because he wants the money. Do you think this is the right move for the former MVP?
BK: Steve Nash’s time with the Lakers has been extremely disappointing, and it is a shame that his body has failed him over the past few seasons. It makes sense for Nash to stick around for as long as he can. The Lakers are in the process of rebuilding, so there is a good chance that Nash will play elsewhere. Could Nash be the missing piece off of the bench for a contender, similar to Derek Fisher? We shall wait and see.
Posted on 15 March 2014 by WNST Audio
Posted on 14 March 2014 by Brett Dickinson
BD: So Barry, it has been a frenzied first week of free agency, with some big surprises around the league, and especially here in Baltimore. After the big name left tackles agreed to deals around the league (even if the Raiders pulled a classic Orioles move on Rodger Saffold, with a failed physical voiding his deal), options were limited for Eugene Monroe. The Ravens were able to bring him back for roughly $7.5 million annually for the next five years, to be the franchise blind side protector for Joe Flacco.
Also, they were able to retain fan favorite (and receiver/retuner) Jacoby Jones, as he agreed to take less money to return to Baltimore, on a four year $12 million deal. While on the negative side, cornerback Corey Graham agreed to sign on with Buffalo Bills, for the next four years, earning roughly $16 Million in that span. While the biggest impact loss may be losing defensive lineman, Art Jones, who signed on with former Ravens defensive coordinator, Chuck Pagano (for about $6 Million a year). James Ihedigbo also agreed to a deal with the Detroit Lions, following his former defensive back coach, Teryl Austin. Barry, I want to get your general reaction to all the free agent movement involving Baltimore.
BK: At this very moment, I am happy with how things have gone for the Baltimore Ravens in terms of free agency. From the onset of free agency, it was clear that the team’s first concern was keeping certain players around. Re-signing Eugene Monroe to a five year contract was a pleasant surprise that will pay huge dividends. In the short-term, Monroe’s cap number for 2014 is just over $3 million, which will allow the Ravens to have financial flexibility as free agency continues. Long-term, the Ravens are getting a known commodity at left tackle, a man that will anchor the offensive line for the rest of the decade.
I am a little bit wishy-washy on the re-signing of Jacoby Jones. We had the opportunity to talk with Lance Zierlein a few weeks ago (Listen HERE), and his strong stance on why the Ravens should NOT bring back Jones was very convincing. Jones was never able to develop into a #2 wide receiver in Gary Kubiak’s offense in Houston; the Ravens cannot expect him to do the same. I like Jones as a return man, but I feel that he offers very little as a receiver. If the Ravens can continue to add receivers (Steve Smith has been a hot button name), the move looks a lot better.
With DT Arthur Jones (Indianapolis), CB Corey Graham (Buffalo), and S James Ihedigbo (Detroit) all leaving, the Ravens free agency cannot be given an overwhelming round of applause. All three players were valuable to the team’s run to the Super Bowl, and were counted on to help ease the transition following the loss of numerous starters to free agency and retirement. It is extremely difficult to replace players who have Super Bowl and starting experience, but if there is one team that can find a way to do it, it’s the Baltimore Ravens. In Ozzie we Trust.
Brett, this first week of free agency has been an absolute whirlwind. The number of signings has been astounding, and the players who have just been released this week could form a very solid team in their own right. What were some free agent signings that stood out to you, for good or bad reasons?
BD: The one that really stood out to me is safety, Jarius Byrd, signing a 6 year $54 Million deal, in hopes to form a stout tandem with last year’s first round pick, Kenny Vaccaro. But I am in disagreement with most NFL analysts, as I see this to be a huge mistake. Don’t get me wrong, Byrd is one hell of a player, but the amount of money they gave him is mind-boggling, considering the state of their salary cap. When you combine the contracts of quarterback Drew Brees, tight end Jimmy Graham, and his recent signing, those three players will account for over 33% of their team’s $133 Million allotment. It already has a trickle down affect, as they were forced to trade away key offensive contributor, running back Darren Sproles, as well as release wide receiver, Lance Moore and defensive back, Malcolm Jenkins. This signing will also mean they have less money to retain some of the other free agents on the roster, as well as be inclined to cut more players to find more cap room.
On the opposite side of that Sproles trade, I think the Eagles received a play maker, that fits ideally into head coach, Chip Kelly’s offense (I know big surprise that I like the move). His versatility adds another dimension to one of the best offenses in the NFL in 2013. He also fills a massive void with his return ability, which the Eagles witnessed first hand, as their playoff run was essentially ended by a great kickoff return by Sproles to start the the final drive of their divisional playoff match up in Philadelphia last year.
Other moves I really liked for both the team and player include: cornerback Darrelle Revis to the New England Patriots, safety T.J. Ward to the Denver Broncos and left tackle, Jared Veldheer to the Arizona Cardinals. All of them were at a good value money wise, while filling key holes on those respective teams rosters.
Posted on 12 March 2014 by WNST Audio
Posted on 11 March 2014 by Brett Dickinson
The past several weeks, I have examined possible targets for Baltimore, leading up to this day, as free agency begins at 4pm. The two biggest holes for the Ravens after last year’s disappointing 8-8 season is clearly Wide Receiver and Offensive Line. The team needs to do all it can to build around Joe Flacco, after paying him as their franchise player. After already examining some options in the trenches for the Ravens HERE, this is some more players of interest for the lineman hungry team (you can also find thoughts on WR options HERE and HERE). This is a look at possible offensive line targets for the Ravens.
ERIC WINSTON (OT Arizona Cardinals)
Winston has been a prototypical RT since coming into the NFL as a third round pick out of Miami in 2006. He started his career under Gary Kubiak, while being a successful run-blocker in the zone-blocking scheme. Though he has bounced around to the Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals the past two seasons, he has played in every game in his eight year career.
Though Winston is not the greatest athlete, he did start his college career as a TE, before eventually moving to the offensive line. He does have the ability to push defensive lineman back, while holding blocks down the field. He is a strong locker room presence, as always been considered a high-character guy.
As he is turning 31 in the upcoming season, Winston will be more of a stop-gap than long term solution for any team looking for a RT. His contract demands will not be significant, as he is looking for a team to stick with. His familiarity with Gary Kubiak will give the Ravens an advantage when negotiating with the veteran.
RYAN HARRIS (OT Houston Texans)
Harris has bounced around the NFL, after having some succes season in Denver to start his career. After being cut by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012, he found a home as a third tackle for the Texans. At 28, he still has some football left in him, whether it be as a starter or injury replacement.
With his frame, he is an ideal RT in the zone-blocking scheme, with his ability to be a road-grader in the running game. He has two years experience with Gary Kubiak, who understands his strengths and weaknesses.
Harris will be looking for a starting spot in free agency, with limited options on the market, as teams may be more inclined to go with a younger player to groom. He is another free agent that is more likely a stop-gap in free agency than a long-term solution. He is a depth player that the Ravens could pursue, offering an opportunity compete in training camp.
ZACH STRIEF (OT New Orleans Saints)
As mentioned in the last OL post, the Saints are cap-strapped, while trying to handle the Jimmy Graham situation. They may not be willing dole out any money to a player not at a key position (LT or C) along the line. He has championship experience, as well as a team captain for a very good organization.
He has been an underrated cog for New Orleans the past couple seasons, especially with the turnover they had at other spots on the line (LT, LG and C). Playing in such a high-octane offense means he is familiar with a fast pace and ability to get to the second level. He has been asked to block in space with the amount of screen passes they deploy on a regular basis.
Strief may be the best RT on the market, meaning teams trying to lock up the position will likely have to overpay for his services. Though at 30, he still has several good seasons left, to solidify the right side for win-now teams. He obviously is looking for another opportunity to get another ring, limiting the franchise that could vie for him.
Posted on 11 March 2014 by WNST Audio
Posted on 11 March 2014 by WNST Audio
Posted on 06 March 2014 by Brett Dickinson
By: Brett Dickinson and Barry Kamen
BK: After the Ravens were able to sign Dennis Pitta to a five year deal, I was convinced that the Ravens would use the franchise tag on LT Eugene Monroe. Monday’s deadline came and went, with Baltimore declining to use the franchise tag. Brett, are you surprised that the Ravens decided not to use the franchise tag on Monroe, now the top left tackle on the market?
BD: While it was a realistic option to tag a player they gave up two picks for just last year, the move (or lack there of) does not surprise me. The salary number for a franchised Tackle would reach above $11 Million for the upcoming season; a hefty sum for a player Ozzie Newsome has limited experience with his presence on the roster. The Ravens will do everything in their power to resign him before free agency starts next week, but would have lost some negotiation power, when putting that type of price range on his value with the franchise tag.
Monroe will hit the market as the top offensive lineman available, with several teams looking for a stalwart LT. Reports are that Miami will make a strong push for him, along with other teams that could use upgrades at the position such as: the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and regrettably the Pittsburgh Steelers. Competing with that amount of teams drastically lowers the chances that he will back on Joe Flacco’s blind side this upcoming season.
The good news is that the Ravens can find a similar option via free agency (or even the draft). Looking at young LTs such as the Kansas City Chiefs Branden Albert, Oakland Raiders Jared Veldheer, Cincinnati Bengals Anthony Collins or St. Louis Rams Rodger Saffold (Read profiles on Albert and Saffold HERE), leaves them plenty of talent to consider. The front office may have examined the availability of those players, who may have price tag more cohesive to money they have set for aside for LT. Also, the drop-off from Monroe and the rest of the free agents is not severe, where the Ravens may even value one (or maybe several) of them as better fits to the new offensive scheme.
With that being said, Baltimore still has holes to fill at several other key positions. Everyone knows the needs at the WR, FS, TE, RB, DL and LB, after watching the Ravens fail to defend the Super Bowl title last season. So Barry, which players out on the market intrigue you as upgrades for an 8-8 roster?
BK: As we write this blog on Thursday, the number of salary cap casualties continues to grow. With free agency beginning on Tuesday, teams are looking to cut veteran players that will command too much money, and give them the flexibility to sign players that best fit their scheme and needs.
The position that has been hit the hardest by the cap cuts is Cornerback. Veterans like Champ Bailey, Asante Samuel, Dunta Robinson, and Cortland Finnegan will all be searching for new teams this offseason. While the Ravens seem to be set with Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb as their starters, depth in the secondary is a current concern. Despite all of the available players, Corey Graham is probably the team’s best option; his knowledge of the system, special teams prowess, and ability to move outside on third downs (Webb typically moves inside) make him more valuable than any of the aforementioned players. Many of the available cornerbacks on the market are one-trick ponies that do not offer teams the ability to play special teams. Look for the Ravens to explore the cornerback market, but take back the known commodity in Graham.
Two players who might come up on the Ravens radar are Jacksonville Jaguar G Uche Nwaneri and Philadelphia Eagles WR Jason Avant. The Ravens had success with an experienced lineman from Jacksonville in Monroe, and Nwaneri could provide quality depth at the guard position. Nwaneri has 92 career starts, and would allow the Ravens to part ways with Jah Reid, who never lived up to expectations. Avant is a proven veteran who could really thrive as a third down target for Joe Flacco. With Marlon Brown on the roster, and the Ravens expected to draft a wide receiver in the early rounds, Avant’s work ethic and mentorship could pay large dividends moving forward. Both of these veterans would have to come at the right price, and I have some concerns as to how cap casualties will view the Ravens as a potential destination. After an 8-8 season, off the field issues, and other AFC contenders (Miami, Indianapolis) with money to spend, can the Ravens compete for veteran players the way that they used to?
BD: That is a real question, and may be the part of the reasoning on why to extend Terrell Suggs, instead of cutting him. Without Ray Lewis, the team lost its main free agent recruiter; something the boisterous Suggs could help replace.
Oh and those TWO SUPER BOWL TROPHIES on display at the Castle could help…