Tag Archive | "Joe Flacco"

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Ravens begin voluntary offseason training program

Posted on 20 April 2015 by Luke Jones

With the start of the 2015 regular season less than five months away, the Ravens officially began their voluntary offseason training program on Monday.

The first phase of the program lasts for two weeks and includes only strength and conditioning work, physical rehabilitation, and mental preparation. This part of the offseason is strictly voluntary, but most players beyond select veterans are expected to attend regularly.

A video on the team’s official website that highlighted the first day showed a number of players in attendance including quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Matt Schaub, tight ends Dennis Pitta and Phillip Supernaw, defensive tackle Brandon Williams, running back Justin Forsett, wide receiver Marlon Brown, linebackers C.J. Mosley, Courtney Upshaw, and Albert McClellan, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, and offensive lineman John Urschel.

The Ravens did not provide access to media for the first day of the program, but Pitta’s attendance can be viewed as a positive sign as he hopes to continue his NFL career after dislocating and fracturing his right hip twice in a 14-month period.

Coaches are not allowed to lead players in on-field workouts during this first part of the offseason program.

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Bisciotti thinks extension would be “win-win” for Flacco

Posted on 01 April 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens know they’ll return to the negotiating table with quarterback Joe Flacco next winter, but owner Steve Bisciotti is confident the sides will continue their relationship far beyond the 2015 season.

In signing the Super Bowl XLVII Most Valuable Player to a record-setting six-year, $120.6 million contract two years ago, the organization knew the deal was structured in a way that it would need to be adjusted after the 2015 campaign. Flacco’s salary cap figure is scheduled to rise from $14.55 million this season to a colossal $28.55 million in 2016.

Speaking with season-ticket holders in a phone forum, Bisciotti said the organization has mapped out a 2016 roster plan to account for Flacco’s gigantic number, but common sense suggests the contract must be adjusted if the Ravens are to remain competitive next season.

“I’m not real worried about it. I know he wants to stay,” Bisciotti said. “He’s obviously more appreciated in Baltimore, maybe, than he is league-wide, but I think that even the league is starting to come around. Look at a guy who has not missed a snap in seven years and has a wonderful record in fourth-quarter comebacks.”

The current deal will have paid the 30-year-old quarterback $62 million over the first three years, but its structure allowed the Ravens to keep more manageable cap figures of $6.8 million in 2013 and $14.8 million last season. But those cap numbers will skyrocket starting next year, which will prompt the sides to tack on additional years to the contract to even out the yearly cap figures to be more in line with the original annual average of $20.1 million.

Such maneuvering would allow Flacco to collect additional guaranteed money based off what he was already scheduled to make over the next few years while increasing the chances that he finishes his career in Baltimore.

“When we get into the offseason, we’re going to be looking to redo that deal and probably do it back at a six-year deal and flatten it out a little bit more than it was this first go-round,” Bisciotti said. “We were kind of in shock — I think the whole league was in shock — when the market was showing that it was $20 million a year. Quite frankly, we weren’t prepared to do that. We back-loaded them, so [the cap numbers] were more like [$14 million] and [$15 million] in the first few years and then that [$20 million] average jumps back up to over [$28 million or $27 million].”

Flacco has never thrown for 4,000 yards in a season and has never made the Pro Bowl — he would have been taken as an alternate this past year if not for the birth of his third son — but he has the most road playoff wins in NFL history and the most wins (including the postseason) of any quarterback in the league since 2008.

Despite his confidence in extending his quarterback while easing the 2015 cap crunch, Bisciotti knows he’ll need to make the deal work for Flacco, who set career highs in passing yards (3,986) and touchdown passes (27) in 2014.

His current deal also calls for cap figures of $31.15 million in 2017 and $24.75 million in 2018, further illustrating the need to find a middle ground with Flacco’s agent, Joe Linta.

“I don’t want to say untenable. It’s something we will make [work], but we can make it a win-win for Joe,” Bisciotti said. “Even though it’s only cost us $14 million or 15 million [on the cap the last couple years], because of the guarantees, I do believe he’s gotten, by the end of this year, half of that contract, somewhere around $60 million.

“I think he’ll be very amenable to a new deal. Then, it would be our job since we’ve already gotten $28 million fitted under that thing to flatten out those hits on our cap, so that they’re more consistent. I’m very confident that we’ll get it done, and Joe and his agent both acknowledged when we did the deal [in 2013] that we would be back at the negotiating table three years later. We certainly are just as interested in Joe as we were three years ago.”

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Ravens do about-face with backup quarterback philosophy

Posted on 31 March 2015 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 5:45 p.m.)

Despite the annual cries from fans about former backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, it wasn’t difficult to figure out the Ravens’ philosophy behind starter Joe Flacco over the last four seasons.

That’s what made the decision to sign veteran Matt Schaub to a one-year deal reportedly worth up to $3 million (Pro Football Talk reports that he’ll receive $2 million in base money) somewhat surprising. It’s not as much an argument over whether Schaub is a better option than Taylor or 2014 sixth-round pick Keith Wenning, but the price is steep for a team with major holes to fill and just over $8 million in cap space before Tuesday’s signing.

In going with Taylor, a sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft, the Ravens invested a total of $2.145 million over the last four seasons, which isn’t a fact to overlook for an organization that’s right up against the salary cap on an annual basis. General manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh likely knew they would be sunk if Taylor had needed to play extensively at any point over the last four years, but they were willing to gamble — while benefiting from using cap resources elsewhere — that they’d survive if the ever-durable Flacco had gotten hurt for only a game or two.

They knew a season would have been lost anyway had Flacco suffered a long-term injury, a reality that doesn’t change with Schaub behind him.

Now, they could pay the 2004 third-round pick more this year than the total amount given to Taylor over the last four seasons. It’s easy to argue that Schaub gives the Ravens a better chance to win in a short-term situation than Taylor or Wenning, but little about his play over the last two years suggests winning with the 33-year-old is a great bet, either.

Flacco’s streak of never missing a start won’t last forever, but it’s not reason to change how you view the backup spot. And if he does get hurt and you’re unhappy with your backup, there’s usually a quarterback or two on the street or on another team’s practice squad who you might be able to sign like Houston did with Case Keenum last season.

The last time the Ravens had this much experience at the backup quarterback spot was when they paid Marc Bulger $3.8 million for a 2010 season in which he didn’t take a snap, but that was also an uncapped year in the NFL. With Baltimore continuing to run Gary Kubiak’s version of the West Coast offense under new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman this season, Schaub will provide experience and insight in the classroom after spending seven years in Houston under Kubiak.

But are those benefits of a veteran backup as critical for Flacco now as he enters his eighth NFL season?

To maximize its salary cap, teams with franchise quarterbacks should be looking to find the cheapest possible backup who offers a chance to win if the starter goes down for a couple games. No team in today’s NFL is winning a Super Bowl with the backup needing to play extensively, so what’s the real return in paying a lot for a backup who ends up receiving a lot of action? Maybe an 8-8 season and a worse draft pick for the efforts.

Schaub’s signing is a clear signal that the Ravens have little faith in Wenning, but the move still appears rash with 10 picks in this year’s draft, a number of other positional needs, and more than five months to go before the season starts.

It’s easy to argue that the 12th-year veteran is a better option than Taylor or Wenning, but is the return really worth the steeper investment?

The Ravens hope they won’t have to find out.

 

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Ravens sign veteran quarterback Schaub

Posted on 31 March 2015 by Luke Jones

(Updated: Tuesday, 6:15 p.m.)

Eyeing a replacement for former backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, the Ravens have found their man in 12th-year veteran Matt Schaub.

On Tuesday afternoon, the sides agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $3 million. The contract includes $2 million in base pay and another $1 million that can be earned in incentives, according to Pro Football Talk.

The 33-year-old visited with the Ravens after head coach John Harbaugh said last week that they would like to upgrade the backup spot behind starter Joe Flacco. Schaub provides the most experienced backup the organization has had since Marc Bulger in 2010.

The New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons had also shown interest in Schaub and his decision was expected to come this week. The 2004 third-round pick out of the University of Virginia began his career in Atlanta.

After spending seven years in Houston with Gary Kubiak, Schaub is familiar with the Ravens’ current version of the West Coast offense that will be overseen by new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman.

Schaub is coming off his lone season in Oakland in which he was beaten out by rookie Derek Carr and released earlier this month. Appearing in 11 games, Schaub attempted only 10 passes, completing five for 57 yards and throwing two interceptions. In his final year with the Texans in 2013, Schaub posted a 73.0 passer rating and threw 14 interceptions before he was benched.

The two-time Pro Bowl quarterback has a career 89.5 passer rating with 130 touchdown passes, but his struggles and elbow issues over the last couple seasons make you wonder how much he has left in tank as even a backup option.

Cost was considered a big question with Schaub as the organization hadn’t invested much in its backup quarterback position in recent years. The Ravens had just over $8 million in salary cap space, but they also invested a sixth-round pick in quarterback Keith Wenning last season before he spent the entire year on the practice squad.

After serving as Flacco’s backup for the last four years, Taylor signed a three-year, $3.35 million deal with the Buffalo Bills earlier this month.

 

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Ravens backup quarterback Taylor off to Buffalo

Posted on 12 March 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens will have a new quarterback backing up starter Joe Flacco in 2015 after Tyrod Taylor agreed to a deal with the Buffalo Bills on Thursday.

His departure was not unexpected after head coach John Harbaugh acknowledged last offseason that the Ravens wanted to see better play from Taylor. The 2011 six-round pick out of Virginia Tech has never started an NFL game playing behind the durable Flacco and did not even attempt a pass last season.

In four seasons with the Ravens, Taylor completed 19 of 35 passes for 199 yards and two interceptions and rushed 27 times for 136 yards and a touchdown.

Baltimore is expected to bring in a veteran to compete with 2014 sixth-round choice Keith Wenning, who spent the entire 2014 season on the practice squad. The Ravens have shown over the last four years with Taylor that they don’t want to spend significant money on a backup for Flacco, who’s never missed a game in his seven-year career.

During the 2014 preseason, Wenning completed 10 of 17 passes for 140 yards. The 6-foot-3 Ball State product doesn’t have a big-time arm, but he completed 63 percent of his passes during his collegiate career.

Veteran quarterbacks currently on the open market include Jason Campbell, Matt Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson, Colt McCoy, Matt Moore, Christian Ponder, and Michael Vick.

 

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Kubiak calls “elite” Flacco as good as anyone he’s coached

Posted on 18 February 2015 by Luke Jones

INDIANAPOLIS — Former Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak has fielded countless questions about the future of Peyton Manning since becoming the head coach of the Denver Broncos last month.

At the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, a reporter asked Kubiak an oft-repeated question about his old quarterback in Baltimore.

Is Joe Flacco elite?

“You bet he is. He helped me. It’s probably why I’m standing up here today,” said Kubiak as he laughed. “Joe was tremendous. I really enjoyed working with him — as talented a young man as I’ve ever coached and as good a person as I’ve ever coached. I think we’ll be talking about Joe for a long, long time. I really appreciated my time with him, and I wish him the best.”

Not only leading the Ravens offense to franchise-best marks in total yards and points scored, Kubiak guided Flacco to arguably the best regular season of his seven-year career. The 30-year-old threw a career-best 27 touchdowns and completed 62.1 percent of his passes, his best completion rate since 2010.

And while Kubiak already owned a coaching résumé that included an eight-year stint as the head coach of the Houston Texans, the 53-year-old once again praised the Ravens organization for the opportunity it provided last season. He’s using that experience in Denver, a place he previously spent two decades as a player and assistant coach.

“I took a lot of things,” Kubiak said. “I went there because I knew what the organization stood for. I knew what John [Harbaugh] stood for. That’s what I wanted to be a part of — the tremendous expectations there. I just think the job that they do as an organization, everybody’s on the same page and working together. I think Ozzie [Newsome] was tremendous for me to watch him in the draft and Eric DeCosta. That was very beneficial for me.

“To watch the team go through [the Ray Rice] situation early in the season and watch the organization deal with that. For me as a head coach, watching them deal with that situation and bring the football team out of it in a very positive way was very beneficial. Football-wise, a very experienced staff [with] Dean Pees and some of the coaches I got a chance to work with. The bottom line is watching a successful organization go about it every day — one that’s been there each and every year — I take a lot of that with me.”

Kubiak reiterated Wednesday that he wants Manning to return as the Broncos quarterback and said all indications are pointing toward that happening in 2015. Though the schedule won’t be finalized with dates until this spring, the Ravens will travel to Denver to take on the Broncos this coming season.

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McCown-Trestman reunion likely not worth investment for Ravens

Posted on 11 February 2015 by Luke Jones

The speculation began as soon as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced the release of veteran quarterback Josh McCown on Wednesday.

With an uncertain backup quarterback situation for 2015, might the Ravens consider reuniting the 35-year-old with offensive coordinator Marc Trestman? McCown experienced the best season of his career under Trestman in Chicago, throwing 13 touchdowns and just one interception while posting a 109.0 passer rating in eight games (five starts) during the 2013 season.

It makes sense strictly from a football standpoint, but their highly-publicized salary-cap issues make a signing unlikely. The Ravens haven’t invested real money in a backup quarterback since 2010 when they paid veteran Marc Bulger — who never took a snap — $3.8 million in an uncapped season that preceded a new collective bargaining agreement a year later. General manager Ozzie Newsome saved plenty of cap space over the last four years simply rolling the dice with 2011 sixth-round pick Tyrod Taylor as the backup.

Even if franchise quarterback Joe Flacco fails to continue his streak of never missing a start in 2015, it’s difficult to justify pumping real money into a backup who might never play. If a short-term injury were to occur, the Ravens will try to survive with a cheaper option — 2014 sixth-round pick Keith Wenning is a clear possibility — and perhaps look for a veteran on the free-agent market. If Flacco were to go down with a long-term ailment, the Ravens — like any team lucky enough to have a franchise quarterback — aren’t winning a championship with McCown anyway.

On the flip side, McCown likely wouldn’t view the Ravens as an ideal destination if he has any interest in actually playing in 2015. A number of teams with shaky quarterback situations would be better landing spots and willing to pay him more money.

After signing a two-year, $10 million contract last offseason, McCown struggled in his lone season with Tampa Bay, throwing 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 11 starts. With McCown’s release, the Buccaneers are expected to draft Florida State’s Jameis Winston or Oregon’s Marcus Mariota with the first overall pick of this year’s draft.

If he’s interested in a veteran-minimum contract, it makes sense for Baltimore.

Anything beyond that would be a poor investment for a team with Super Bowl aspirations and a number of other important positions to address this offseason.

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If not Torrey Smith, then who for the Ravens?

Posted on 04 February 2015 by Luke Jones

No Ravens free-agent-to-be has sparked more debate over the last several months than wide receiver Torrey Smith as he’s set to hit the open market in a few weeks.

So much time is spent picking apart his shortcomings in running routes and arguing that he’s not a No. 1 receiver — there aren’t 32 of them in the entire NFL, by the way — that we lose sight of what Smith has brought to the table in his four years with the Ravens. Prior to his selection in the second round of the 2011 draft, the Ravens lacked any kind of a vertical threat for quarterback Joe Flacco and were regularly suffocated by any defense simply playing Cover 2 with aggressive cornerbacks. From the moment he arrived, the speedy receiver brought an ability to not only stretch the field, but make plays in the process of doing so.

The University of Maryland product ranks third on the all-time franchise list in receptions and is second with 30 touchdown catches while never missing a game in four years. After a 2013 season in which he caught 65 passes for 1,128 yards — both career highs — his numbers dipped to 49 catches for 767 yards under new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, but Smith still caught a career-best 11 touchdowns and drew an impressive 261 yards on pass interference calls. The six-foot, 205-pound wideout wasn’t a great fit in Kubiak’s system that focused on short-to-intermediate passing, but his skill set is something that would be hard to replace.

By all accounts, Smith is also one of the best men in the Ravens locker room, a factor that shouldn’t be lost in the wake of last offseason when five players were arrested and after the recent reports of Will Hill and Terrence Cody being in trouble with the law. Character can’t be everything when it comes to valuing a player, but it should count for something.

It’s true that Smith profiles best as a good No. 2 receiver, but that still carries substantial value, evident by a CBS Sports report indicating the Ravens offered him a five-year, $35 million contract prior to the 2014 season. And even if the 26-year-old won’t cash in on his gamble in the same way that Flacco did in his walk year two years ago, offers in that same neighborhood — or slightly better — will still be thrown his way on the open market. Resources such as Spotrac.com have projected Smith to be worth slightly above $7 million per year, and that’s before learning whether top free-agent receivers such as Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, and Randall Cobb will even hit the market.

If you’re convinced the Ravens shouldn’t pay Smith what they offered him a few months ago or sweeten the deal a bit to potentially get it done, then what?

Even if Bryant, Thomas, and Cobb find their way to the market, the Ravens won’t have the salary cap space to make a competitive offer. Philadelphia’s Jeremy Maclin would be next on the list, but most project him to fetch more than Smith in free agency. A look at contracts signed in recent offseasons likely puts Smith in line with the deals received by Eric Decker and Golden Tate last offseason, but the final price will depend on the supply of quality receivers on the market and the number of teams willing to spend.

Whether re-signing Smith or not, the Ravens will take a long look at the wide receiver position in the draft, but Alabama’s Amari Cooper and West Virginia’s Kevin White will be long gone by the time they pick 26th overall. And let’s not forget that general manager Ozzie Newsome’s sterling draft reputation doesn’t extend to the wide receiver position where Smith is the Ravens’ biggest success story in two decades. Going into the draft needing to find a starting receiver with a late first-round pick isn’t a recipe for success for a playoff-caliber team.

Drafting a wideout such as DeVante Parker, Dorial Green-Beckham, Jaelen Strong, or Devin Funchess could pay off in the long run, but few positions are as unpredictable as wide receiver, especially if you’re expecting one to play a significant role immediately.

Should Smith depart, the Ravens would be looking at a 36-year-old Steve Smith as one starter and a competition among the likes of Marlon Brown, Kamar Aiken, Michael Campanaro, and Jacoby Jones (if he isn’t a cap casualty) for the No. 2 spot. Those receivers are complementary parts — not NFL starters — at this stage, and the Ravens can’t depend too much on Steve Smith, who slowed down at different points last season after a blazing start.

As they have in the past, Baltimore could look for another short-term veteran fix, but there’s only so much upside to be had with receivers on the wrong side of 30, especially if you’re looking for someone to stretch the field.

Of course, Smith will also need to prove just how much he wants to remain in Baltimore as he told WNST.net last week that he won’t necessarily go to the highest bidder and complimented the organization for giving him a chance to win every year. If the Ravens are still offering the fifth-year receiver what they did a few months ago and are willing to offer a little more as a show of faith in him, Smith can’t accuse them of disrespecting him after a season he’s described himself as less than stellar.

Most agree that Smith needs to be “the right player at the right price” for the Ravens to continue their relationship with him, but his departure would spell bad news for a team trying to build on a 10-6 season that ended in the divisional round.

His detractors have had few problems pointing out what Smith isn’t, but replacing him would be more difficult than many are willing to admit.

 

 

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Flacco, wife welcome third son on Tuesday night

Posted on 21 January 2015 by Luke Jones

After declining an invitation to play in Sunday’s Pro Bowl to remain with his expecting wife, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco welcomed his third son into the world Tuesday night.

Flacco’s wife, Dana, gave birth to Francis Michael, who weighs nine pounds, seven ounces. The Ravens announced the birth during a conference call for new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, who sent his congratulations to his new quarterback with a text message.

“Joe was fired up. He was fired up about it,” head coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday. “He had to decide [between] Dana or the Pro Bowl. We can all agree he made the right choice, right?”

The timing of the birth had created some discussion about Flacco’s potential availability had the Ravens advanced deeper into the playoffs, but the 30-year-old missed the birth of his second son, Daniel, that took place hours before Baltimore’s home opener in 2013. The couple has a rapidly-growing family after welcoming first son Stephen in the summer of 2012.

 

 

 

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Flacco turns down invitation to Pro Bowl

Posted on 20 January 2015 by Luke Jones

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has never made the Pro Bowl, but he’s choosing family over an invitation at the conclusion of his seventh year.

With many fans surprised to see Matt Ryan and Andy Dalton selected to replace the Super Bowl-bound Tom Brady and the injured Aaron Rodgers, it turns out Flacco was invited to participate in Sunday’s game in Arizona. However, the 30-year-old elected to remain with his wife, Dana, who is expecting the couple’s third child this month.

Ravens wide receiver and teammate Torrey Smith broke the news via his official Twitter account after initially questioning why Dalton was chosen for the game instead of Flacco.

 

In his only season under offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak — who has now become the head coach of the Denver Broncos — Flacco set career highs in passing yards (3,986) and touchdown passes (27). His 91.0 passer rating was his highest since the 2010 season, and Flacco completed 62.0 percent of his passes, the third-highest completion percentage of his career.

In addition to head coach John Harbaugh coaching one of the rosters, the Ravens are sending four players to this year’s Pro Bowl including linebackers Elvis Dumervil and C.J. Mosley and right guard Marshal Yanda. Initially a first alternate, running back Justin Forsett was added to the game last week after Houston’s Arian Foster bowed out with an injury.

Vinny Testaverde is the only quarterback in franchise history to be chosen for the Pro Bowl, and that selection came in the Ravens’ inaugural 1996 season.

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