Tag Archive | "Baltimore"


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Ravens re-sign defensive end Urban to one-year deal

Posted on 06 March 2018 by Luke Jones

The Ravens have re-signed defensive end Brent Urban to a one-year contract.

The 2014 fourth-round pick was set to become an unrestricted free agent next week, but Baltimore will instead retain its only defensive starter from last season who had been scheduled to hit the open market. After missing 26 games due to injuries over his first three seasons, the 6-foot-7, 300-pound Urban had finally moved into a starting role in 2017 before suffering a season-ending Lisfranc foot injury in Week 3.

The Ravens struggled to replace Urban at the 5-technique defensive end spot, eventually deciding on Carl Davis midway through the season. However, with Davis undergoing offseason shoulder surgery and recent third-round picks Bronson Kaufusi and Chris Wormley not developing as rapidly as the organization had hoped, retaining Urban became a distinct possibility with general manager Ozzie Newsome mentioning it in Indianapolis last week.

“Beyond thankful to be given the opportunity to do what I love with the organization that gave me my start,” Urban posted on his Twitter account shortly after the deal was announced. “2018 is going to be so real.”

After also dealing with injuries at the University of Virginia that hurt his draft stock, Urban missed his entire rookie season after tearing his ACL early in training camp and then missed 10 games in 2015 with a torn biceps sustained that summer. The organization has always been high on his size and ability and were excited about his potential as an interior pass rusher last year before he went down in the blowout loss to Jacksonville.

In 25 career games with Baltimore, Urban has collected 25 tackles, three sacks, and three batted passes.

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2018 Orioles preview: Kevin Gausman

Posted on 06 March 2018 by Luke Jones

With Opening Day less than a month away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2018 Orioles every day as they try to bounce back from a disappointing last-place finish a year ago.

March 5 – Manny Machado

SP Kevin Gausman

Opening Day age: 27

Contract status: Under club control through the 2020 season

2017 stats: 11-12, 4.68 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 29 HR, 186 2/3 innings

Why to be impressed: One of the worst statistical starters in baseball over the first few months of 2017, Gausman tweaked his mechanics and rediscovered the feel for his split-changeup to post a 3.41 ERA after the All-Star break. The right-hander also struck out an impressive 9.6 batters per nine innings in the second half and reached career highs in starts and innings.

Why to be concerned: Gausman finished with markedly-worse numbers in the first half than the second half for the third straight season, making one skeptical that he’ll build on last year’s second half and take the much-discussed next step. He’s allowed 1.4 home runs per nine innings in three straight seasons, his biggest weakness that isn’t helped by pitching at homer-friendly Camden Yards.

2018 outlook: The 2012 first-round pick has a career 3.29 ERA pitching to Caleb Joseph and hit his stride last year when Joseph became his personal catcher over Welington Castillo. Continuing that combination will improve Gausman’s fate, but he’s deep enough into his career now to wonder if he will ever become much better than league average, especially without further development of his slider.

Not-so-scientific projections for 2018: 13-11, 3.76 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 27 HR, 184 1/3 innings

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2018 draft order finalized for Ravens

Posted on 06 March 2018 by Luke Jones

With the NFL having already announced compensatory picks, the order has been officially finalized for the 2018 draft beginning on April 26 in Arlington, Texas.

The Ravens will have a total of eight picks with their lone compensatory pick coming in the sixth round. After making four selections in the first 78 picks of the 2017 draft, general manager Ozzie Newsome has three of the top 83 next month.

There had been a question about whether the Ravens still held their seventh-round selection after acquiring offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom from Arizona last September, but he did not play enough for the conditional seventh-round pick to be surrendered to the Cardinals. The veteran appeared in four games and played just 32 offensive snaps before being cut in October and landing in Washington.

Below is a look at where the Ravens are scheduled to pick:

Round 1: 16th overall
Round 2: 52nd overall
Round 3: 83rd overall
Round 4: 118th overall
Round 5: 154th overall
Round 6: 190th overall
Round 6: 215th overall (compensatory)
Round 7: 238th overall

Just for fun, below is a look at past players selected by the Ravens at each of those spots (or as close as possible) over the years:

16th overall: CB Marlon Humphrey, 2016
Skinny: Humphrey’s selection was met with little enthusiasm last year, but the Alabama product looked the part of a future No. 1 cornerback as a rookie, intercepting two passes and playing in all 16 games.

52nd overall: DE Anthony Weaver, 2002
Skinny: The Notre Dame defensive lineman wasn’t a star, but he collected 14 1/2 sacks and started 54 games over his four seasons with Baltimore before playing three more years with Houston.

83rd overall: WR Devard Darling (82nd), 2004
Skinny: Darling is just one in a long list of failed picks at receiver as he made two receptions in his first three seasons before finally catching 18 passes and three touchdowns with the Ravens in 2007.

118th overall: LB Tyrus McCloud, 1997
Skinny: McCloud showed some early promise and made two starts in place of an injured Ray Lewis in 1998, but he was cut the following year and never played another game in the NFL.

154th overall: LB Ron Rogers, 1998
Skinny: The Georgia Tech product was cut near the end of his first preseason and doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry, which says all you need to know as he never played in an NFL game.

190th overall: DT Cedric Woodard (191st), 2000
Skinny: Woodard never played a game for the Ravens, but the Texas defensive lineman had a decent NFL run, spending five seasons with Seattle and even started 28 games over that time.

215th overall: WR Justin Harper, 2008
Skinny: A 6-foot-3 wideout from Virginia Tech who stood out in training camps for making some acrobatic plays, Harper never carried that over to games and appeared in just two contests for Baltimore.

238th overall: WR Aaron Mellette, 2013
Skinny: The Ravens hoped they’d found a sleeper in the seventh round after Mellette caught over 300 passes and 44 touchdowns at FCS-level Elon, but he was cut a year later and never appeared in a game.

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2018 Orioles preview: Manny Machado

Posted on 05 March 2018 by Luke Jones

With Opening Day less than a month away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2018 Orioles every day as they try to bounce back from a disappointing last-place finish a year ago.

SS Manny Machado

Opening Day age: 25

Contract status: Under club control through the 2018 season

2017 stats: .259/.310/.471, 33 HR, 95 RBI, 81 R, 9 SB, 690 PA, 3.5 WAR (Baseball Reference)

Why to be impressed: Much was made about his down season, but Machado still posted a solid .781 OPS despite a career-low .265 batting average on balls in play and an average exit velocity that surpassed his previous two years, reflecting his tough luck. He eclipsed 66 extra-base hits for the third consecutive season, proving he had no issues driving the ball while struggling to be as consistent over 162 games.

Why to be concerned: Machado has an underwhelming .309 OBP and 6.7 percent walk rate since the 2016 All-Star break after posting career bests in those categories (.359 and 9.8) in 2015, making one wonder if the plate discipline shown that season was more aberration than the norm. He also had a brutal .587 OPS last September, which prompted the concerns about his rough first half to return.

2018 outlook: How he handles questions about his future and new position will be interesting, but the three-time All-Star infielder should rebound from 2017 and is still one of the game’s best players awaiting a massive nine-figure deal. Playing shortstop at an above-average level will only enhance his value, but Orioles fans may only enjoy that novelty for a few months before the July 31 trade deadline.

Not-so-scientific projections for 2018: .281/.335/.498, 34 HR, 91 RBI, 94 R, 5 SB, 686 PA, 5.7 WAR

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Twelve Ravens thoughts from 2018 NFL combine

Posted on 04 March 2018 by Luke Jones

With the 2018 NFL scouting combine winding down, I’ve offered a dozen Ravens thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Ozzie Newsome didn’t drop any bombshells speaking at his final combine as general manager, but he was accountable and expressed much urgency to get back to the playoffs and finally get it right at wide receiver. The latter would be a fine demon to exorcise to complete his brilliant run.

2. Newsome’s job title and responsibilities after 2018 remain unclear, but Steve Bisciotti telling him he wants his golf game to improve should ease concerns about his “significant” position potentially clashing with the transfer of power to Eric DeCosta. It needs to be the latter’s show to run.

3. Jeremy Maclin remains on the roster for now, but Newsome only saying that no decision has been made on his future should be pretty telling. The general manager’s desire to “change that room” wouldn’t seem to bode well for free agent Mike Wallace’s chances of returning either.

4. On the other hand, Newsome’s praise for the play and leadership of Brandon Carr leads you to believe he’ll remain on the roster. Jimmy Smith is apparently progressing well with his Achilles tendon rehabilitation, but there’s no way to know yet if he’ll be ready for Week 1.

5. Some balked at Newsome saying Breshad Perriman would be part of spring workouts, but this shouldn’t be a surprise with the lack of bodies at receiver and the organization’s desire to salvage any bit of value from a first-round pick. This hardly guarantees he’ll be part of the 2018 team.

6. Only preliminary talks have been held with the agent of C.J. Mosley about a contract extension beyond 2018, but that’s not a major surprise as it wasn’t until late April of 2015 that Jimmy Smith signed his deal, the last time Baltimore extended a first-round pick.

7. Newsome predictably praised the emergence of Alex Collins, but adding a running back to be a dangerous factor as a receiver out of the backfield should still be a goal this offseason. I don’t believe Danny Woodhead, Buck Allen, or Kenneth Dixon is that guy.

8. Maryland wide receiver DJ Moore made a statement to be in the conversation as a first-round pick with his strong showing in Indianapolis. His workout numbers mesh very well with his production for the Terps despite never benefiting from consistent quarterback play.

9. Penn State’s Mike Gesicki is another prospect the Ravens should covet. He isn’t a blocker, but he checks the boxes you want in a pass-catching tight end and was very impressive at the combine. Gesicki also caught 14 touchdowns and had almost 1,500 receiving yards over the last two seasons.

10. Re-signing Brent Urban to a cheap contract with incentives is fine, but injuries have plagued him throughout his football career. It would be unwise to give him any real money or envision him as a “Plan A” guy.

11. Oklahoma offensive tackle Orlando Brown, the son of the late former Ravens lineman, was impressive during his press conference, but his disastrous workout numbers will be difficult to overcome. Talk of him being a first-round pick became a distant memory in a matter of hours.

12. Newsome has never basked in the spotlight — Friday was the first time he’d answered questions at a press conference since last April — but he deserves the farewell recognition he’ll receive from peers, fans, and media over the next calendar year. Where would the Ravens have been without him?

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Judge dismisses robbery case against Ravens cornerback Humphrey

Posted on 03 March 2018 by Luke Jones

A Tuscaloosa County district judge has dismissed the third-degree robbery case against Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey over a January incident involving a phone charger.

As first reported by the the Tuscaloosa News, Judge Joanne Jannik ruled there was no probable cause that Humphrey had robbed an Uber driver on Jan. 13. Mitchell Patton told University of Alabama Police that the Baltimore defensive back stole his phone charger and threatened him.

Humphrey, 21, was arrested and charged nearly two weeks after the incident occurred as Patton continued pursuing charges after the investigating officers had declined to do so. The 2017 first-round pick will be refunded the $2,500 bond paid after his arrest on Jan. 25.

The Ravens issued a statement on the day of his arrest making it clear they were firmly behind his side of the story.

“Marlon told us that it was a misunderstanding regarding a $15 telephone charger, which he thought was his,” the statement read. “Our understanding is that he has been interviewed by University of Alabama Police and is cooperating. We are monitoring the situation.”

Humphrey played in all 16 games as a rookie, making making five starts and finishing with two interceptions and 34 tackles. He is the son of former NFL running back Bobby Humphrey.

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Orioles make minor-league deal with Pedro Alvarez official

Posted on 26 February 2018 by Luke Jones

Despite registering only 34 plate appearances in the major leagues last season, slugger Pedro Alvarez has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Orioles for the second straight year.

The deal was made official Monday morning as Alvarez will attempt to make the 25-man roster after spending most of last season with Triple-A Norfolk. The 31-year-old corner infielder has abandoned his hopes of becoming an outfielder after the experiment didn’t work with the Tides last season.

Alvarez batted .239 with 26 home runs, 89 runs batted in, and a .737 on-base plus slugging percentage for Norfolk last season. He played sparingly upon being promoted to the major league roster last September, hitting one home run and batting .313 in 14 games. With Chris Davis entrenched at first base and Mark Trumbo expected to again be the regular designated hitter this season, Alvarez faces an uphill battle to make the club, but he could provide depth at Norfolk for the second straight year.

The former second overall pick of the 2008 draft posted an impressive .848 on-base plus slugging percentage against right-handed pitching for the Orioles in 2016, but his career .613 OPS against lefties and defensive limitations have led to little interest for his services on the open market for three straight offseasons.

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Ravens receive only sixth-round compensatory pick in 2018 draft

Posted on 23 February 2018 by Luke Jones

The Ravens received only a sixth-round compensatory pick in the 2018 draft after many had anticipated a third-round selection for the free-agent departure of offensive tackle Rick Wagner last offseason.

This marks only the second time since 2010 that Baltimore will not have multiple compensatory picks in the draft. The maximum number of compensatory picks allotted to a team in a single year is four as Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, and Oakland all reached the maximum for the 2018 draft.

Entering his final season as general manager, Newsome will have a total of eight selections — his regular choice in each round as well as the extra sixth-round pick at 215th overall — in this year’s draft. Last year was the first time teams were permitted to trade compensatory picks and Baltimore took advantage, sending its third-round selection and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan to Philadelphia in exchange for the Eagles’ third-round pick used on defensive end Chris Wormley.

The Ravens lost Wagner, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, defensive end Lawrence Guy, wide receiver Kamar Aiken, and offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse as unrestricted free agents and signed unrestricted free agents Tony Jefferson, Brandon Carr, and Danny Woodhead last offseason. That resulted in a net loss of two, but the small Ducasse deal did not qualify for the maximum of 32 compensatory picks awarded, leaving the Ravens with only one selection.

Wagner signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract with the Detroit Lions, which left him on the border of fetching either a third- or fourth-round pick for Baltimore. However, a three-game absence with an ankle injury likely dropped him to the fourth-round territory, the same tier as Jefferson’s four-year, $34 million contract to cancel out a potential fourth-round choice for the Ravens.

Determinations for compensatory picks are based on a formula considering the salary, playing time, and postseason honors earned by unrestricted free agents who left their teams the previous offseason.

Nick Korte of OverTheCap.com broke it down nicely here:

Since the compensatory pick program started in 1994, the Ravens have led the NFL in receiving 49 compensatory choices as the organization has frequently resisted signing unrestricted free agents over the years while losing many of their own. Green Bay is second with 42 compensatory picks over that same period of time.

Below is a history of the Ravens’ compensatory picks since 1996 with the round in which the player was selected noted in parentheses:

1996: none
1997: LB Cornell Brown (sixth), QB Wally Richardson (seventh), S Ralph Staten (seventh), DT Leland Taylor (seventh)
1998: TE Cam Qualey (seventh)
1999: G Edwin Mulitalo (fourth)
2000: none
2001: none
2002: WR Javin Hunter (sixth), RB Chester Taylor (sixth), S Chad Williams (sixth)
2003: FB Ovie Mughelli (fourth), OT Tony Pashos (fifth), C Mike Mabry (seventh), S Antwoine Sanders (seventh)
2004: WR Clarence Moore (sixth), WR Derek Abney (seventh), G Brian Rimpf (seventh)
2005: QB Derek Anderson (sixth)
2006: RB P.J. Daniels (fourth), TE Quinn Sypniewski (fifth), P Sam Koch (sixth), CB Derrick Martin (sixth)
2007: LB Antwan Barnes (fourth), FB Le’Ron McClain (fourth), QB Troy Smith (fifth), LB Prescott Burgess (sixth)
2008: OL Oniel Cousins (third), OL David Hale (fourth), S Haruki Nakamura (sixth), RB Allen Patrick (seventh)
2009: none
2010: none
2011: CB Chykie Brown (fifth), DE Pernell McPhee (fifth)
2012: S Christian Thompson (fourth), CB Asa Jackson (fifth)
2013: FB Kyle Juszczyk (fourth), OT Rick Wagner (fifth), OL Ryan Jensen (sixth), CB Marc Anthony (seventh)
2014: TE Crockett Gillmore (third), DE Brent Urban (fourth), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (fourth), G John Urschel (fifth)
2015: CB Tray Walker (fourth), TE Nick Boyle (fifth), G Robert Myers (fifth)
DT Willie Henry (fourth), RB Kenneth Dixon (fourth), CB Maurice Canady (sixth)
2017: Traded third-round compensatory pick and DT Timmy Jernigan for Philadelphia’s third-round pick used to select DE Chris Wormley

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Schoop, Castro sidelined as Orioles open Grapefruit League action

Posted on 23 February 2018 by Luke Jones

The Orioles began Grapefruit League play with their most valuable player from a year ago and one of the leading candidates for the No. 5 starter job sidelined for health-related reasons.

Manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Sarasota that second baseman Jonathan Schoop was scratched from Friday’s opener because of left elbow bursitis. Right-handed pitcher Miguel Castro is dealing with tendinitis in both knees and will not make his scheduled start on Sunday.

Schoop was originally slated to bat second against Tampa Bay before the Orioles released a revised lineup Friday morning with Luis Sardinas taking his place at second base and batting ninth. Showalter said the All-Star selection and 2017 Most Valuable Oriole winner bumped his elbow on something recently, causing it to swell and prompting the training staff to drain it.

The 26-year-old has missed only two games over the last two seasons combined while blossoming into one of the club’s best players.

With Ryan Flaherty now with Philadelphia, Baltimore is looking for a new utility infielder with Sardinas, Ruben Tejada, and Engelb Vielma considered the top candidates for the job.

Castro is trying to transition from long relief to a starting role, making this a concerning disruption to that schedule. The 23-year-old posted a 3.53 ERA in 66 1/3 innings last season and is competing with the likes of right-handers Mike Wright and Gabriel Ynoa and Rule 5 lefty Nestor Cortes for the fifth starter job behind Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Andrew Cashner, and Chris Tillman in the rotation.

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Landry tag reinforces challenge of Ravens finding No. 1 receiver

Posted on 21 February 2018 by Luke Jones

The Ravens signing wide receiver Jarvis Landry was always going to be a long shot before he received the franchise tag from Miami on Tuesday night.

With limited space under the salary cap this offseason, Baltimore hardly would have been the favorite to land the Dolphins slot man had he made it to the open market. But Miami retaining Landry — or at least forcing teams to talk trades for his services in addition to signing him to a lucrative deal — only reinforces the challenge of finding a No. 1 receiver as those types of talents rarely reach free agency.

A list of the top wide receiver contracts in the NFL shows nearly all have remained with their original teams. According to OverTheCap.com, 15 of the top 18 wide receiver deals in terms of average annual value are with the team that either drafted or signed the player out of college with Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, and Emmanuel Sanders being the exceptions to the rule.

Jacksonville is also expected to place the franchise tag on the 24-year-old Allen Robinson, which would take the top two projected free-agent receivers off the market. The absence of Landry and Robinson leaves a group of free agents without any bona fide No. 1 types, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting talents who could help Joe Flacco and the NFL’s 29th-ranked passing attack from last season.

The likes of Marqise Lee, Sammy Watkins, Paul Richardson, and Donte Moncrief may carry questions, but each is capable of contributing and an offense needing No. 1 and No. 2 options can’t afford to be too picky in adding pass-catching talent. The problem may end up being the asking price of these second- and third-tier options with the top two talents off the board and many teams looking for pass-catching help on an annual basis.

Regardless of the status of Landry or Robinson, the Ravens were always going to need a multi-pronged attack to improve at wide receiver with Mike Wallace scheduled to hit free agency and many expecting the disappointing Jeremy Maclin to be a cap casualty. General manager Ozzie Newsome will need to add some experience to the position via free agency or trade and invest a draft pick or two in the early rounds of the 2018 draft to truly move the meter at the position.

This year’s draft class may lack slam-dunk first-round picks beyond Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, but other prospects such as Courtland Sutton of SMU, Christian Kirk of Texas A&M, James Washington of Oklahoma State, and even Maryland’s DJ Moore could be enticing if the Ravens either trade back in the opening round or refrain from selecting a wide receiver until the second day of the draft.

After frequently neglecting the position in recent years, the Ravens need to put their best foot forward instead of simply waiting to make a post-June 1 addition or hoping a late-round pick magically pops.

Anything less will likely leave them in an all-too-familiar position in a pivotal season for the future of the organization.

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