Tag Archive | "derrick mason"


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Ravens use old habit in landing veteran receiver Crabtree

Posted on 16 March 2018 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After one of the more bizarre starts to free agency in team history, the Ravens turned to an old habit at the wide receiver position by courting a veteran cast aside by his former team.

A day after voiding a four-year, $29 million agreement with the largely-unproven Ryan Grant because of a failed physical, Baltimore signed former Oakland wide receiver Michael Crabtree to a three-year contract on Friday. The deal is worth a total of $21 million and includes a $7 million signing bonus and $11 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network.

Upon being released by the Raiders on Thursday, the 30-year-old said his first call came from the Ravens before he caught the first flight to Baltimore and arrived for a visit at the team’s Owings Mills facility early Friday morning. The daylong negotiation reflected the Ravens’ urgency to strike a deal after what had transpired the previous day with Grant, a sequence of events that’s drawn skepticism and even accusations of wrongdoing from some critics.

A former San Francisco 49er who was targeted on the fourth-down incompletion in the end zone on the famous goal-line stand in Super Bowl XLVII, Crabtree becomes the latest in a long line of veteran wideouts to join the Ravens in the latter stages of their career.

Familiarity contributed to Crabtree’s decision as he previously played for Ravens assistant head coach Greg Roman and wide receivers coach Bobby Engram, both former 49ers assistants. Of course, he also played for the brother of Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh as Jim Harbaugh served as 49ers head coach for Crabtree’s final four seasons in San Francisco.

“Jim and John, they’re like the same to me. When I talk to them, it’s like I’m talking to the same person,” said Crabtree as he laughed during his conference call with local reporters. “It’s almost as if they were twins or something. It’s weird, but it’s a new team for me, a new journey.”

After a disappointing season from Jeremy Maclin that resulted in his release earlier this week, general manager Ozzie Newsome hopes another 2009 first-round wide receiver can provide the physical presence on third down and in the red zone the Ravens have mostly lacked since trading Anquan Boldin in 2013. Crabtree is coming off a down season in which he caught only 58 passes for 618 yards — reflecting the struggles of the entire Oakland offense — but he still caught eight touchdowns, only three fewer than Baltimore’s entire collection of wide receivers in 2017.

In nine NFL seasons, the Texas Tech product has totaled 579 receptions for 6,870 yards and 51 touchdowns. Despite coming off his lowest catch and yardage totals since his injury-shortened 2013 campaign, Crabtree recorded the second 1,000-yard season of his career in 2016, helping the Raiders return to the playoffs for the first time in well over a decade.

Crabtree has registered 33 catches for 444 yards and six touchdowns in five career games against the Ravens, something that didn’t go unnoticed by Newsome in the pursuit of the veteran. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound wideout collected six receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown in Baltimore’s Week 5 win at Oakland last season.

“We know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a statement released by the team. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Crabtree is now the second receiver to officially sign with the Ravens this week after a one-year, $5 million contract with former Arizona speedster John Brown was finalized on Thursday. It’s the continuation of Newsome’s stated desire to revamp the wide receiver position after the Ravens finished 29th in passing offense last season. Despite receiving much scrutiny over the timing of Grant’s voided deal coinciding with Crabtree’s release, Newsome said earlier Friday that the Ravens were interested in the veteran before receiving the results of Grant’s physical.

Baltimore wide receivers combined for 34 touchdown receptions over the last three seasons while Crabtree recorded 25 over that time with the Raiders. With Maclin gone and speedy veteran Mike Wallace currently an unrestricted free agent, the Ravens will be counting on Crabtree to provide veteran leadership as well as consistent production for a group lacking experience and accomplishments.

They also envision a motivated veteran eager to prove he has plenty of good football left despite being jettisoned by the Raiders.

“I felt like I was the leader in the room at [age] 21. But it was more off example, leading by example,” Crabtree said. “The older I’ve gotten, it seems like it’s more verbal. It’s more speaking, showing these guys and telling these guys instead of just showing them by example.

“It’s a little different when you get older. I’m comfortable with it. I feel like I’m in my prime right now. I’m ready to go. I feel young; I feel like I’m still 25.”

Crabtree’s mercurial personality has sometimes led to a reputation for having attitude problems and he was even ejected for fighting with former Denver cornerback Aqib Talib in a game last season, but the Ravens could stand to benefit from more attitude on the offensive side of the ball, especially with the free-agent departure of starting center Ryan Jensen becoming official Friday night. Despite being a Dallas native, Crabtree said he grew up a Ravens fan because of their “hard-nosed” defense, which could partly explain his fiery personality that occasionally crosses the line.

Newsome says he’s not finished addressing the wide receiver position despite two free-agent additions in the first week of free agency, also noting Friday that the door was still open for Wallace and fellow free agent Michael Campanaro to potentially return. Next month’s draft may lack a clear-cut franchise-changing receiver, but the depth of talent projected to go in the second and third rounds should be appealing for an organization that struck out on 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman and has otherwise waited until the later rounds to draft receivers who amounted to little more than fliers.

The Ravens also continue to search for help at tight end with their reported interest in former Detroit first-round pick Eric Ebron, who was released earlier this week.

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#WNSTSweet16 – The 16 local athletes who never won a title, but deserved to win one

Posted on 28 January 2014 by Drew Forrester

Finally, it’s my turn.

Well, sort of.

I’ve been assigned the duty of compiling our latest edition of WNST’s Sweet 16 list.  This one — “the top 16 local athletes who never won a championship but deserved to…” — was so uniquely different that I created my own formula for compiling the relative level of “deserving” and went with it throughout the process.

I awarded points to each candidate based on their longevity/career length, their quality of play and their contribution to the community in terms of charitable/foundation work and their dedication to improving the quality of life for people in their city.

Admittedly, if the formula produced a tie or a close margin, I gave the benefit to the player who contributed the most to the Baltimore community via their civic/charity work.

So…let’s get to it, shall we?



#16 is jockey Rosie Napravnik, who cut her teeth in Maryland as one of the state’s most successful jockeys in the mid 2000’s, leading the local horse racing circuit in victories in 2008 with 101.  A winner of 1,689 career races heading into 2014, the only missing ingredient on her outstanding professional career is a victory in a Triple Crown Race.  She finished 3rd in the 2013 Preakness aboard Mylute, the highest finish for a female jockey in either the Kentucky Derby, Preakness or Belmont since Julie Krone won the Belmont in 1993.  Although not as successful locally as someone like Mario Pino, Napravnik spending a great deal of her childhood in the Baltimore area and later becoming one of the state’s most successful jockeys got her the nod here.

(Please see next page for #15)

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Mason approves of Kubiak hire: “It will benefit Joe”

Posted on 27 January 2014 by WNST Audio

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Mason endorses receivers coach Hostler as next Offensive Coordinator

Posted on 18 January 2014 by WNST Audio

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Torrey Smith has History Working Against Him

Posted on 18 July 2012 by jeffreygilley

It’s no secret that Torrey Smith is a very talented player.  Many fans (including myself) hope that his 841 yard rookie season is a sign of things to come.  Hopefully, Smith can become Flacco’s number one target for years to come.  Smith has the ability to do just that but he has history working against him.

After drafting two Hall of Fame players with their first two picks in 1996, one would think the Ravens would have success drafting players at every position.  But, that has not been the case when it comes to the wide receiver position.  Therefore, players like Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin are brought in to be the number one receiver the Ravens have lacked.

The Ravens have drafted 18 wide receivers in their short history.  Patrick Johnson, Travis Taylor, Ron Johnson, Devard Darling, Mark Clayton, Demetrius Williams, Yamon Figures, Marcus Smith, Torrey Smith, and Tandon Doss have are all players that have been drafted in the first four rounds by the Ravens.  Many of these names are recognizable because of their performances in training camp but none have had a major long term impact on the team.

None of these players have spent more than five years with the team and all of them have been busts with the exception of Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss who were both drafted in 2011 so its unfair to judge them so quickly.

Only five wide receivers the Ravens have drafted have started 14 or more games in their Ravens career with Travis Taylor starting the most games at 61.  I think a big reason for this is because the Ravens have always been successful and have never had an opportunity to draft a player like Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, or Andre Johnson.

I am not discounting Torrey Smith’s potential but we need to remember that he is young and could still not work out for the team long term.

Below is a chart of every wide receiver drafted by the Ravens.


Player Round Drafted/Year Games Started Yards Years With Team
Jermaine Lewis 5th round 1996




James Roe 6th round 1996




Patrick Johnson 2nd round 1998




Brandon Stockley 4th round 1999




Travis Taylor 1st round 2000




Ron Johnson 4th round 2002




Javin Hunter 6th round 2002




Devard Darling 3rd round 2004




Clarence Moore 6th round 2004




Derek Abney 7th round 2004




Mark Clayton 1st round 2005




Demetrius Williams 4th round 2006




Yamon Figurs 3rd round 2007




Marcus Smith 4th round 2008




Justin Harper 7th round 2008




David Reed 5th round 2010




Torrey Smith 2nd round 2011




Tandon Doss 4th round 2011





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The Mason Line

Posted on 12 June 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

The ceremonial retirement of Derrick Mason as a member of the Ravens on Monday was a chance to remember all of the positives that he brought to the team, and now with some time having passed a chance to put to bed any lingering animosity that fans may have developed toward him as his career was winding down, both here in Baltimore and elsewhere, we celebrate him. It also seems to assure us that some day soon we’ll be seeing his name raised to the “Ring of Honor” in a sappy and nostalgic ceremony. Given the inconsistent criteria of the current “Ring of Honor” inductees, it’s probably a good time to consider a few cases.

Although the criteria are, as mentioned, inconsistent I should mention that there’s one rule in weighing a player’s “ROH” merits as far as this discussion is concerned. That rule is simply that you can’t invoke Earnest Byner as a benchmark. Byner’s place in the ROH is charitable at best and based on things beyond his achievements on field as a Raven. I don’t begrudge his admission, but he can’t be used as a measuring stick for the merits of others.


It honestly wouldn’t have surprised me a bit if Mason had retired as a member of the Tennessee Titans, and we could certainly discuss the possibility that the absence of Jeff Fisher from that organization is as much a part of Mason’s decision to retire as a Raven as anything. For 6 seasons Mason was a Raven, through and through, but in the minds of fans, always a former Titan too. Old rivalries die hard, and the additions of Mason and Samari Rolle and Steve McNair and Lorenzo Neal may have helped to bridge that healing gap over time too. But some will always likely remember Mason as a Titan.


For all of his statistical achievements in Baltimore, what I’ll remember most about Mason coming here was his coming here. Apparently given the choice between the Ravens and Patriots, Mason went with the underdog organization and his leap of faith was rewarded (albeit not with a Super Bowl title). His was a misguided faith in Kyle Boller as well, and for that we can all be thankful.


Mason topped 1000 yards 4 times as a Raven, played on 4 playoff teams and was seemingly always the guy most on the same page with his quarterbacks. He scored 29 TDs as a Raven, or 6 more than Randy Moss in 2007 with the aforementioned Patriots.


His tendency to talk may have gotten him in some hot water with fans during his tenure here, but that’s all water under the bridge and truly of little consequence now. Statistically it’s a bit of a reach, but given the offensive limitations of the team during his tenure here, those stats should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Let there be little doubt, Mason will be in the ROH.


That said, the accomplishments of both Jamal Lewis and Chris McAlister would seem to trump Mason and just about any other former Ravens who might be lying in wait, in addition to overshadowing most of the current member of the ROH. It would have been nice to see either or both of them afforded the chance to let bygones be bygones and retire as well. In McAlister’s case, because of the nature of his departure it always seemed unlikely, but in Lewis’ case not so. Not so, that is until Lewis signed on as a plaintiff in the concussion lawsuit against the NFL.


Current member of the ROH, who played for the Ravens, are Byner, Michael McCrary, Peter Boulware, Jon Ogden and Matt Stover with Mason likely to follow. Todd Heap will likely be a member when he finally hangs up his cleats (hopefully as a Raven too) and Kelly Gregg should make for an interesting debate. Jarret Johnson could have a case I suppose too.


And what about Jermaine Lewis? Is he also a guy whose bad publicity was too much for the Ravens to ignore, or just an overlooked omission or a guy on the wrong side of the fringe? Given some of the stories of Lewis’ life lately, he could probably use a little positivity and recognition and Ravens fans would likely be happy to pay it to him.


There’s little doubt that Mason will be honored in the ROH as he should. The question though is should he be the next?


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Mason’s lasting legacy with Ravens defined by Flacco’s immediate success

Posted on 11 June 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Trying to define Derrick Mason’s 15-year career in the NFL isn’t easy, let alone determining where he fits in the pantheon of great players in the history of the Baltimore Ravens.

His overall numbers suggest some level of consideration for the Hall of Fame — ranking 11th in receptions in NFL history — but Mason never stood out as one of the elite receivers in football at any point during his career despite two Pro Bowl appearances (2000 and 2003), an impression that will very likely leave him out of Canton. Mason will probably find himself included in the Ravens’ Ring of Honor at M&T Bank Stadium one day, but even that notion is debated by some.

His arrival in Baltimore was divided into two parts. His first three years included the best regular-season mark in franchise history (a 13-3 record in 2006), a reunion with former Tennessee Titans teammate Steve McNair, and two underachieving seasons for Baltimore in 2005 and 2007 that ultimately led to the dismissal of coach Brian Billick. Mason also set the Ravens’ single-season record with 103 receptions in 2007.

His final three years with the Ravens brought three straight playoff appearances under coach John Harbaugh and saw Mason become the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards.

But Mason’s true legacy sat in the back of the auditorium during the 38-year-old’s retirement press conference on Monday afternoon. Though entering his fifth season and a year removed from having his “safety net” as so many liked to label Mason, current franchise quarterback Joe Flacco wouldn’t have found instant success as a rookie without the 5-foot-10 veteran wideout reining in his passes.

“Over the 17 years that we have been here, we’ve signed a lot of free agents, a lot of them,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “But I don’t know if there was any one player over the span of their career that did more for this organization than Derrick Mason did.”

Of course, Harbaugh never planned for Flacco to start from Day One in 2008, but a shoulder injury to Kyle Boller and a tonsil infection to backup Troy Smith gave the Ravens no other choice but to send the quarterback of the future to the huddle immediately. Fortunately, a 34-year-old Mason was there to meet him as the Ravens embarked on one of the most surprising seasons in franchise history, finishing 11-5 and advancing to the AFC Championship game with a quarterback who was taking snaps at the University of Delaware a year earlier.

While no one is more responsible for his success than Flacco himself, having a bona fide go-to receiver at his disposal made the transition from an FCS school to the AFC North far easier in his rookie season. It was a luxury previous first-round quarterback and eventual bust Kyle Boller didn’t have in his rookie season five years earlier.

Mason accounted for 80 catches in Flacco’s rookie season, and the two perfected the sideline route as the passing game’s bread and butter.

“Derrick was a guy you could count on,” Harbaugh said. “I think Derrick was a guy who was going to be where he was supposed to be. He was going to run a great route. We’ve said it before, I’ve never seen a better route-runner. Cam [Cameron] has said it. And for a young quarterback to have trust that it was going to be the right depth, he was going to come out of his break quickly, he was going to be where Joe expected he was going to be and he was going to catch the ball, I would think that’s pretty good being a quarterback to understand that.

“Right out of the gates, it just seemed like those two guys had a chemistry, which is pretty amazing.”

Though many criticized Mason’s presence in his final season, insisting the training wheels needed to be removed for Flacco to take his game to the next level with the acquisition of new No. 1 receiver Anquan Boldin, Mason caught 61 passes for 802 yards and seven touchdowns in his final season in Baltimore. However, that year was marred by an ugly incident in Carolina where the quarterback and receiver got into an altercation on the sideline — an event that still leaves a bad taste in some fans’ mouths.

But the quarterback attending the press conference and Mason’s unprovoked words about his former teammate put any thought of lingering hard feelings to rest on Monday afternoon.


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Former WR Mason set to retire as Raven Monday

Posted on 10 June 2012 by Luke Jones

Former wide receiver Derrick Mason has repeatedly expressed his desire to retire as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.

It looks like he will have that chance on Monday as the organization announced a 3:00 p.m. press conference at its Owings Mills facility that will also include general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh. While the official press release did not describe the nature of the press conference, Mason is expected to announce his retirement after signing a ceremonial one-day contract with the Ravens as other teams have done with revered players in the past.

In an interview with WNST.net’s Glenn Clark on AM 1570 last month, Mason talked about his preference to retire as a Raven after a disappointing 2011 season with the Jets and Texas in which he caught only 19 passes for 170 yards and no touchdowns. The veteran wideout was released by both teams and played in only 12 games.

Mason is the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions (471) and receiving yards (5,777) and second behind former tight end Todd Heap in receiving touchdowns (29). In his six years with the Ravens, Mason had four 1,000-yard receiving seasons and is the only player in team history to eclipse 100 receptions in a season when he caught 103 in 2007.

The 38-year-old played 15 professional seasons, his first eight with the Tennessee Titans before signing with the Ravens prior to the 2005 season.

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Derrick Mason says players should miss two games after suffering concussion

Posted on 11 May 2012 by WNST Audio

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Your Monday Reality Check-Size Matters And I Won’t Stop Saying It

Posted on 23 April 2012 by Glenn Clark

Remember the guy who scribbled what (at least looking back on it) was nearly a love letter to San Diego Chargers WR Malcom Floyd last summer?

Remember the guy who pounded on the desk for days during his first full week as host of “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net about how much he wanted to see the Baltimore Ravens add Floyd to their receiving corps for 2011?

Remember the guy who received ridicule for not being excited (and frankly showing a level of discontent) after the Ravens failed to acquire Floyd and instead dealt for Buffalo Bills WR Lee Evans?

The name’s Glenn Clark. It’s good to talk to you again. In case you were wondering, I haven’t stopped bitching about the need for the Ravens to add size to their receiving corps.

After a relatively quiet start to the 2012 NFL Offseason, the Ravens will absolutely add players this week. The Ravens have eight picks in this weekend’s NFL Draft, and will have the opportunity to address both depth and need over the course of the weekend. Fans and analysts have debated the order of the team’s needs, largely agreeing that Offensive Line, Interior Linebacker, Pass Rusher, Running Back, Safety, Wide Receiver and Kick/Punt Returner tend to make up the list.

I don’t particularly care what order the Ravens use to rank their own needs. As we all know, General Manager Ozzie Newsome and company won’t suddenly move away from the “best player available” philosophy that has worked so well for them in recent years.

I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that at some point during the course of the weekend the team will draft at least one receiver.

My rallying cry will remain the same. When they do, they need to find a receiver who can get up and get the football.

In 2011, six of the top seven total offenses in the National Football League included a significant contributor (either at WR or TE) who stood at least 6’5″ or taller. The other team (the Philadelphia Eagles) had a 6’4″ TE target in Brent Celek.

The Baltimore Ravens have two tight ends (Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson) who are both listed at 6’4″ but who have been unable to establish themselves as legitimate red zone threats at the pro level. This has at least something to do with why the Ravens managed to score TD’s on just 50% of their trips to the red zone in 2011, a mark good enough for only 18th in the NFL.

(The lack of a singular red zone receiving target isn’t necessarily the ONLY reason why the Ravens have struggled to score TD’s in the red zone, but it’s hard to fathom mutual exclusivity here.)

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