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Harbaugh surprised by Bisciotti adding extra year to his contract

Posted on 25 March 2014 by WNST Staff

John Harbaugh transcript from coaches breakfast in Orlando, courtesy of the PFWA

On safeties: “To me, safeties are interchangeable these days. There are certain traits you look for. I’m looking at the safeties
now in the draft. You want tacklers and you want guys with range and you wants guys with ball skills.”

On contract extension: “I guess the first thing I said was, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘Because that’s the best I can do and I want to do as much as I can.’ It’s a big statement. Steve’s a great leader. We had a seminar yesterday on culture building and things like that, which was good, and listening and thinking about in our building, we have that every day. You couldn’t get a better leader, or a man that understands group dynamics, understands how to build people up, how to bring together people in a way that is necessary for success and for treating each other with respect. We have a great leader at the top of our organization and his influence runs through the whole organization. He has a strong hand on what we’re doing that way. He does it in a soft-handed kind of way. He inspired, he transforms and he builds. It goes to Dick and to Ozzie and right through our organization.”

On Zuttah: “We traded for Jeremy for him to be the starting center. That’s the plan. Had a conversation with Gino yesterday. It was good communication and he’s in a good place. Gino’s a solid young guy. Jeremy is a more experienced center/guard in this league. The thing I liked on tape – we studied him pretty hard – he’s a big, rangy guy. He’s got length, he’s got size in there, he’s got experience and he’s also got, we think, a knack for the scheme we’re going to run offensively. He’s a good fit for us.”

Done in free agency?: “No way. There’s always more to be done. I don’t know if Steve and Ozzie feel that way, but I sure feel that way. And I do think they feel that way. It’s a process for sure. I think we’ve made full use of the first couple phases of free agency, but you guys know there’s still more to it. There’s going to be some cap casualties, we still have some of our own players that we’re talking to, there’s still a couple free agents out there that we are involved with. Then will be the draft, then the June 1st cuts, then finalizing our roster throughout training camp. I think we’re actively engaged with a number of guys, some on our team and some who are free agents.”

On why Ihedigbo wasn’t re-signed: “It’s just this whole free agent process. There’s such a cycle there. He didn’t fit us financially like we wanted. It’s not just now. It’s when you look down the road and you structure your salary cap. It’s who you’re going to be able to hold onto and who you can’t. We went with a younger guy who was a little less expensive and who also fits us.”

What’s Osemele’s best position?: “He can do both. Right now, the plan is to play him at left guard. That’s where I see him playing next year. Could that change? Certainly, with the draft and that kind of thing. But let’s keep him in there at left guard. He’s got a lot of experience in there right now, he’s comfortable there, he likes playing on the left side. It provides us with some real size inside, some length inside, which is good. We can run all those twists and games and things in there, keep the pocket deep for Joe. That’s where we’re going right now and we’ll see how it plays out.”

Is right tackle a prominent spot to fill?: “Both. We are really confident in Rick and Jah. Those are two guys that will compete for the right tackle spot. As Steve mentioned, no glaring holes, that tells you we feel confident in our offensive line as it’s constructed right now. But that’s not to say we’re not going to try to get better. If we draft a guard, say, high, that would move Kelechi out to tackle. If we draft a tackle somewhere in there or someone comes in and wins the job then they’re the best player. But what we have been able to construct at this point is depth. We’ve got a nice front. We feel like we’ve got the right kind of players in there that can be the type of offensive line that we envision – tough physical, big strong, fast offensive line and smart too. We could play right now, but we also want to get better.”

How do you fill Arthur Jones’ spot?: “Brandon Williams is a big part of our plan. He is a guy that automatically comes to mind. Kapron Lewis-Moore is out a five-technique so he provides some depth there with Chris Canty, obviously. You’ve got Canty at defensive end, Haloti at nose guard. Look at it this way. You’ve got Haloti and Brandon as the two defensive tackles if you want to look at it from the 4-3 perspective. Those guys can both play the nose and three-technique. Kapron Lewis-Moore can probably play some of that three-technique. And I would say we’re not done yet. We’ve still got some work to do in there to build depth.”

What spots still need to be addressed?: “I think we need to bolster the defensive line a little bit. We need to bolster our inside linebacker position – at least one, maybe two guys. We need to bolster the corner position, like Steve said, build some competition for the third corner position and even push the other two guys. Chykie is part of that mix, Chykie and Asa. I’ve seen some of the work Chykie has been doing in the offseason. He’s been working very hard. Free safety, certainly. Darian Stewart is a guy we’re excited about. He’s a guy we know a little more about than most people because of Steve [Spagnuolo’s] experience with him. He’s a good, young player. I really liked him on the tape. When our fans see him play, they’re going to like the way he plays. One of his issues has been durability. He’s had some soft tissue issues over the years and hasn’t been able to play a full season. As soon as he gets here, we’re going to get to work on that. Now he just got married this last weekend, so we’re going to give him a little time. I think he’s coming in to sign his contract before he goes on honeymoon. We’re going to encourage a short honeymoon. Get back to work Darian.”

Jeromy Miles factoring in at FS?: “Yes, Jeremy has a chance to factor in. He’s tall and rangy and Jeremy has good ball skills. He might be another Corey Graham type of guy. Sometimes you play so well on special teams that you get labelled a little bit that way. The conversation he and I had was, ‘Hey, don’t lose that. You don’t trade that in. That’s something that you want to hold onto. That adds value to what you’re doing. Continue to be a dominant special teams player.’ But he’ll have a chance to compete for a starting spot, just like Brendon [Ayanbadejo] did as the starting dime linebacker when everybody said he was only a special teams player. Corey Graham became the starting corner for us and everybody said he was only a special teams player. Jeremy has the same opportunity with us.”

Spending some money: “It’s always nice to have money in your pocket right. And this is the first time we’ve had money. It’s been great. I think we’ve really been wise. … We’re going to try invest it really wisely. It’s going to be interesting to see where we can use it. Some of it might be with a couple guys that are still with us too.”

Ray Rice situation: “I’m very confident that he’s someone we want as part of our team. He will be a part of our team. He’s a person of character. The thing that’s really important is to be able to support the person without condoning the action. There’s no justifying what happened. When you drink too much in public, those kind of things happen. Really that’s what happened with Jah Reid as well. You can’t get drunk at a bar, you just can’t do it. You’re not a kid anymore and you’ve got responsibilities to not just yourself, but your family and your organization and your teammates and it’s unacceptable. You can’t be riding around in a car with marijuana in your bag. I don’t care what your reason or your excuse is for it. You can’t be riding around with guys that you have no business riding around with. Those are the core issues those guys had and we addressed them with those guys directly. It’s unacceptable, it’s disappointing. But you also separate the person from the activitiy and redemption is something we think is important as well. If there’s every a point in time when we feel like that person has lost value for our team, really it starts with football, or because of their character they’re no longer what we want to have be a part of us, then you move on from those guys. But those guys aren’t at that point yet.”

On Broncos, Pats spending: “I was disappointed with the moves that the Broncos and Patriots made in the offseason. What more can I say? I thought they did a great job and that disturbed me. We’ll find out. The proof is in the pudding. But obviously they’ve added some pieces. I think both of those teams do a great job. They make great decisions, they’ve very particular with who they add and they add the player they need in the spot they need. It seems they draft that way as well. You’ve got to applaud what they’ve done. But we’ll play games in the fall and see how it plays out.”

On adding a backup quarterback: “Well, you know, Tyrod’s only got one year left on his contract. We’ve been very happy with Tyrod, and we feel like he has a great future, but we have been a little disappointed how he’s played in games certainly. We feel like he’s a lot better than he’s showed. I know he feels that way too. We feel like Tyrod’s best football is by far definitely in front of him, but he’s only got one year left with us, so we need to add a quarterback into the mix, whether it be offseason or in the draft.”

On Steve Smith being a locker room distraction: “It’s always a concern, your chemistry. Chemistry is really important, and it’s something that
I think every team should be working really hard to try it build. It starts with the type of person that you bring in as a coach and then as a player.
But through our investigations I guess you can call it, we came away feeling really good about the impact Steve is going to have on our team that way.
He’s a tough competitor. He’s a mature grown man. He’s a family man. He’s a man of faith. I think the world of him. I always have. We have a relationship
that goes back to when he was a rookie, and we’ve kept in touch throughout his whole career in the NFL. And then when we came in for the visit, all of
the things he said unprompted were all the things that I wanted to hear, and I just think he’s going to be good for all of us, and he can play.
We’re excited about him.”

On what he heard from Smith that he liked: “I wanted to hear kind of his view on how he was going to fit in and what his role would be, and I think those
quotes are kind of public out there. I don’t want to speak for him, but I think he understands the culture’s in place and a way of doing things is in place,
and he wants to be a part of that. I didn’t have to explain to him and him go, ‘Oh ok. I get that.’ He was explaining to me how he saw us and how he saw his
role, and that was the same vision that I had for how he was going to fit in. He’s going to be great with our young receivers. He’s going to show them a
little bit of the way in practice and how to compete on Sunday. I’m excited about that. Plus, he’s a really hard worker.”

On the Panthers’ decision to let Smith go: “Everybody’s situation is different financially and where they’re at with building their team. We had to let
Anquan Boldin go last year, and that was very painful. These are tough decisions that you’re forced to make because we’re in a salary cap league. Not
just for this year but for future years down the road, I don’t know their situation, but they make wise decisions over there. They’re smart guys.”

On how Smith has evolved over the years: “I don’t know. I wasn’t around him every day, so I can’t speak directly to exactly how he was on a day-to-day basis.
I just always liked him. I just liked being around him and what he stands for as a competitor more than anything.”

On how Marlon Brown fits into the receiver rotation: “He’s competing for a starting spot. It’s not a two receiver league anymore. It’s not like you’ve got
your two starters and then your No. 3 guy is a slot receiver. That’s the way that people kind of want to label it. It’s just more complex than that. And with
Jacoby, you’ve got four guys right there that are going to play a lot of football. And one thing I think coach Kubiak does a great job of is he understands
how to put guys in a position to play to their strengths. He knows Jacoby very well, and Jacoby has only gotten better since he’s been here. He’s matured as
a player and a person. Steve Smith has certain things that he does extremely well. So does Marlon Brown, and Marlon’s going to obviously I would think make
leaps and bounds from Year One to Year Two. Aaron Mellette is still in the mix. And Torrey, Torrey has become a more complete receiver, so I think that
Gary’s got some guys that he’s excited to work with, so I can’t wait to see how he uses them.”

On Rolando McClain: “I have not had discussions with Rolando personally. We have spoken with him to my knowledge. I mean Ozzie may have talked to him at some
point because of Alabama and all that kind of stuff. To me, it all depends on a couple things. Who [is he] as a person right now? Has he grown up? He had a
lot of growing up to do obviously. And how hard he’s working, how hard he’s working at Alabama right now. If he’s working his rear end off, then I’m kind of
excited about him. If he’s not, then I’ve got no interest in him being on our team.”

On if there is a set time when the team would like to know Rolando’s plans by: “I don’t know. I’ll just wait and see what he does. If he unretires or whatever
the situation is, then we’ll decide whether he is going to be good for our team. And if we think yes, then we have the rights to him and he’ll have to come
back with us. And from what I’ve heard, he wants to come back — if he comes back — with the Ravens. But if we don’t think he’ll be good for our team, we’ll
let him go and play for somebody else. It’s all up to Rolando McClain. Who are you? How hard are you working? And how much do you want to play football?
Up to this point, he hasn’t really wanted to play football. That’s what I’m interested in as a coach.”

On what was the Ravens’ No. 1 issue heading into the offseason: “I don’t rank those things. I really don’t. I don’t have that list in front of me.”

On how he encouraged by the shape Ray Rice is in: “Very encouraged. Very encouraged by how hard Ray is working, just from a football standpoint. He’s got a
great trainer. We hired a guy, Billy DeLorbe. I don’t know if you saw that or not. We’re trying to expand our training methods. Our guys work really hard.
[Head strength and conditioning coach] Bob Rogucki and [assistant strength and conditioning coach] Juney [Barnett] do a great job in the weight room, but
we also felt like there were some things we could tie together a little better with core work, with conditioning, with proprioception and with different
types of training methods — more body weight-oriented training methods that don’t bulk guys up quite as much. We think there’s a couple guys — Ray being
one of those guys — that can really benefit from this type of training, so we’re going to incorporate that with our team this year, and Billy is going to
have a big impact on guys like Ray.”

On whether the team plans to move Matt Elam to strong safety: “Matt played a lot of strong safety last year. So like I’ve said, those guys are kind of
interchangeable. I like both safeties being able to play both positions. The free safety so to speak is really the weak safety, lines up on the weak side
of the passing strength. The strong safety lines up on the strong side of the passing strength. It’s not really a matter of a box guy and a deep guy. You
rotate weak and the free safety is down and the strong safety is back. If you play a split safety coverage, they’re both high. So they’ve got to be able
to do all those things well. So we’ll just have to see how it plays out. Darian [Stewart] can play the free safety spot. So if we’re starting out, Darian
would start out at free safety and the weak-side safety and Matt would start out as the strong-side safety, but that’s going to change as we line
up in different defenses.”

On how important it is for Joe Flacco to get throwing sessions together with his receivers: “Doing extra work is critically important as far as the strength
and conditioning — balance-, body control-, foot quickness-, athleticism-type things because they’re with us so little. The management council and the players
association have got to get together and help us as organizations and coaches help our young players develop as people and players. I mean come on. You hold
us responsible and want us to be a factor in their lives like the mentoring program and things like that. Give us a chance. We don’t see these guys until
April 21. Our guys are chomping at the bit to be in the building. They’re in the building working out. We can’t have a conversation with them other than
‘Hi, how are you doing,?’ This is not the NCAA. This is not recruiting. These are our guys. We want what’s best for our players. That’s what’s good for
the league. That’s what good for these young men. And that’s what they want. Young guys want a chance to compete in the National Football League for a
job. They want to go see their position coach. They want to learn football. It’s their craft. And we’re saying, ‘No, you can’t do it?’ Why? Because of
the collective bargaining agreement that makes no sense? Because somebody wanted to get their little win here vs. their little win over there? Get
together and do what’s best for these players, and it’s about time that somebody stepped to the plate and realized that and [took] the politics out of it.”

On Flacco getting the throwing sessions together: “From my understanding, he’s doing that. They’ve got some things planned, a throwing session. I’m not sure
where. I’ve heard different sites. Joe’s got to get that worked out. That’s up to him to do. But I’ve heard they’re doing that. Joe has kind of communicated
that through texts, and Torrey has told me that they have a session planned and are trying to work out the dates and all that. I’ll be happy when I read
about it in Pro Football Talk and NFL.com. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how it goes. It is important. It’s big.”

On where Steve Smith is physically: “I think Steve Smith can still play. We watched the tape — not just from last year but previous years. Numbers are part
of it. He’s not the same jet that he was when he was younger. I was at Disney with my daughter and stuff like that, and some of those roller coasters are
pretty fast. They just explode off the rails now. I think he’s not quite that. After the catch, what he used to do is he would make a catch and he’d run
a wide arc and just outrun the defender. That’s the one thing that you don’t see anymore. He’ll usually get tackled on an angle now. But that’s something
he’s even talked about improving and making a tighter transition after the catch and getting upfield after the catch more quickly, so that’s something
he’s probably going to adapt. But he’s still got plenty left. He makes tough catches in traffic. He makes tough catches outside. He catches nine-routes.
He catches comebacks. He catches stop 9s. All of the tough catches outside, he makes. He’s still a tremendous competitor, and I think he’s going to
bring some grit to our offense. He’s going to help us.”

Why Steve Smith didn’t catch as many deep balls?: “I don’t have any observations on their offense. I just haven’t watched them enough to say and I wouldn’t.
But I saw him catch the deep balls. When he had a chance, when he was running a nine-route or an eight-route and he was even with the defender, he was
leaving still. He was able to accelerate and go make the catch. If he does it, that means he still can do it and that’s all we really need to see.”

Expectations for Joe Flacco: “The expectations are high for Joe. They always are. They were high last year. Yeah, they are.”

How will more familiar faces help Flacco?: “It doesn’t matter about last year. Joe’s responsibility is to learn from it and he learned from every mistake,
he learned from every game. Joe improved in some ways last year that I really haven’t seen you guys write about too much for whatever reason. Because of what
we went through last year, Joe became a better playmaker on the extended play. He scrambled around and made some huge plays for us that won us some games.
I like the fact that he’s going to take that step that he took last year into next season on top of all the things that you’re talking about. I’m excited
about the kind of year that Joe can have next year, but really, it’s not just Joe. It’s all of us. We all have to be better. We all have to be the best
that we can be. So adding players, changing scheme, trying to build around Joe’s strengths but also all the other guy’s strengths, that’s really what you do.”

What happened last year with Ray Rice?: “It’s too complex just to give you the bullet points off the top of my head. I probably wouldn’t do a good job of it
because I don’t have my notes. But the biggest thing was he got hurt early. He strained his hip, a hip flexor. He tried to come back and re-strained it.
He tried to fight through it the whole year and he was probably good enough to play, but not good enough to excel. And he got a little bulked up and he put
on some weight. I’ve seen reports that he got up to 225. I never saw that number on the scale. 217 was the highest I saw on the scale. Ray has come out and
said that’s too big for him. We talked about some of the stuff that we’ve done with our training program to try and lean him up a little bit. He’s under 210
right now. I’d like to see him around 207, 205, 207. That’s where he was his first couple of years and then he crept up to about 212 in the Super Bowl year.
IT was still good for him, he was still very explosive. And then last year through the injury, he got up to at least 217, which was just too big.”

Other areas where Flacco improved: “I don’t have that list in front of me. Guys always improved. He improved with mechanics, he improved with progressions,
he improved with understanding protections. I think his overall knowledge of the game is getting into that neighborhood where you want to see that veteran
quarterback, a six, seven, eight-year guy. His understanding of defenses and how they work, all those things. Now, he’s got to take that knowledge and apply
it to our offense and to the system that Coach Kubiak is going to bring in. Having a chance to sit down and study the system now for the last couple of months,
I think it’s going to really fit Joe very well. That was part of the excitement of hiring Gary. Gary’s a great teacher, he has a system that he understands
and believes in and is a very straight forward system. I think Joe is going to benefit from that.”

Is the playbook done?: “Right. I don’t know how long they’ve had it but they have it now, though. Recently they got it. They have their books now.
It’s been at least a week.”

How did Rick Wagner play in his rookie year?: “Rick played well. He didn’t play well early. I think he was kind of overwhelmed by it. Rick’s the kind of guy
that it seems like his personality is where he really needs to know what he’s doing before he really can cut it loose. We put him in that role as a move tight
end with the extra offensive lineman down at the goal line in short-yard situations and he was very bad at it early and he became very good at it toward the
end. You start to learn how a guy things so you learn how to teach him a little bit. I think he’s going to be a guy that’s going to need a lot of reps to gain
his confidence. And once he gains confidence in his techniques, he’ll be really good at it. Juan [Castillo] is a great trainer of offensive linemen, one of
the best in the league if not the best at training guys in techniques. We think that Rick’s going to really benefit from that.”

Any scenario where Rick Wagner starts at right tackle?: “Oh yeah. Rick probably goes in as the starting right tackle right now. That’s the way I see it.
We aren’t playing a game right now so it really doesn’t matter. He and Jah [Reid] will be competing and Jah is very determined right now as he should be.
It’s going to be a good battle and we’ll see if we add somebody in the mix.”

Will you pick up fifth-year option on Jimmy Smith?: “We have no doubt that we’ll be investing the option in Jimmy when the time comes. We are hopeful that
we can sign Jimmy long-term. That will be our goal. I would say the same thing about Torrey. Torrey Smith wasn’t a first-round pick but we are really happy
with that draft class and those guys. We want those guys to be Ravens for a long time.”

Your take on instant replay?: “We’re on record in Baltimore the last four or five years of being in favor of putting everything in instant replay that can
be put in instant replay. It’s our feeling that the technology has caught up with the game in a lot of ways. Sometimes, we lag behind the technology a
little bit and you should. You should come to change slowly and you should do things for the right reasons. I think the league is right in doing that, but
it’s about time now to recognize that when the fans have a better view of the game than the referee does, then it’s time to put the referee in the same
playing field as the fans and you do that through the technology. They have great ideas and ways to do it. I tend to agree with Coach Belichick. I think
everything should be reviewed. If not, work back from what shouldn’t be reviewed. Don’t work out from what should be reviewed because right now, all we
do every year is we add things for review cause a play happens like the San Francisco play. You say, ‘Oh boy, that’s a loophole that should be reviewed,’
so we add it. That’s the tail wagging the dog. Everything that can be reviewed should be reviewed and what those specifically would not include, we
could decide. We could have that conversation. How to do it – whether it goes back to the NFL office which we’re in favor of, I’m in favor of – that
sounds like a great plan. It’s already being worked in hockey. Let’s make sure the outcome is right so when the game is all said and done, the fans
aren’t blaming the officials for the outcome of the game one way or another. They’re blaming or patting the players and coaches on the back. That’s
where the outcome of the game should be and technology now gives us the opportunity to do that. Don’t put the referee in a situation where real time
and the fans have a better view of the play than he does. That makes no sense. That’s our view.”

Need more challenges: “I don’t know. I’d be for more challenges. I think the time argument is bogus. College does it very quickly. I like the coach having
the challenge. I think it adds some excitement to the game and some strategy to the game that is fun and I feel like would give us an advantage because I
feel we would be good at that. However, they decide to do it, it would not slow down the game and it would not take the game out of the referee’s hands.
He would still control the game. It’s just a matter of time before it comes to that.”

Thoughts on expanded playoffs: “I agree with Steve [Bisciotti] on that. I think Steve is right about that. It’s going to be good for the game. It’s good
for players, good for fans. It’s going to be exciting. I don’t know about the Monday night game. It’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out.’

Looking back at last year, anything you wish you did differently: “Lots of things. We try every year to overhaul everything we do, to put everything under
a microscope. I don’t think we’ve had much of a chance to do that last year and honestly, frankly, when you win a Super Bowl, you’re less inclined to do that.
Not because you don’t think you have things to correct, but you really don’t have time to do it. We’ve had more time than we really want and need to do it
this year and we’ve made a lot of changes to a lot of things we’re doing – more mechanical, structural, methodology as opposed to principal-based stuff.
We always say our principals are written in stone, our methods are not. We got methods that we’re changing.”

Thoughts when heard the reports about Browns’ interest in brother: “I laughed. First, I was ticked off because he hadn’t told me about this.
I’m his brother. I’m supposed to know. I called him, and he just laughed about it.”

Thoughts about playing against Jim twice a year: “Only briefly, until I found out there was nothing to it. Nah, I never really thought about that
because I didn’t hear about it until after the fact. I was at the combine when it all broke. I may have been sitting next to him when it all
broke. That would be very, very tough.”

Jim’s reaction to news: “He was kind of incredulous. I’m sure there was some conversation. I think everybody said there was a dialogue. But how
serious it was … I guess it was fun to talk about. On our team, you always try to make your team better. So, I guess the Browns were
trying to make their team better.”

Training camp plans: “We’ve always had a training camp. Our training camp this year will be more physical that it was last year. We’re younger
than we were two years ago, and we need it more. But we’ll always gauge it for individual players. The young guys are going to get more of that than
the veteran guys. Chris Canty, for instance, is not going to line up in two-on-one combination block drills. But Brandon Williams is. He needs it.
It’s going to be a tough, physical training camp. We’re going to wring everything we can out of every single second. We’re going to become the best
team we can possibly become. Our guys know how to work. Ask a guy like Terrell Suggs, our guys know how to work.”

Chykie Brown: “The biggest thing with him is attention to detail. He’s way more detail-oriented than he used to be. That’s been the key for him.
If he’ll be a detailed press corner – if he’ll put his hands on people and stay squared and be physical at the line of scrimmage and communicate with
the safety on every single play –Chykie can play. It’s the lapses that he has to get out of his game. He knows that. He’s working hard at that.”

Progression for Chykie: “Huge steps last year. When he played, he played really well. Chykie’s ready. We’ll see how ready. He’s ready to make a
run with a lot more playing time.”

Free safety prospects in draft: “I just started looking at the safeties this week. It’s a good group. It’s a really good group. How good?
How deep? I haven’t been through them all yet, so I don’t know. I saw Clinton-Dix yesterday on tape and he looks good. He’s going to go high. We’ll see where.”

Is Owen Daniels on your radar: “We’re looking at Owen Daniels. We’re looking at Ed Dickson. There are a couple other tight ends we’re looking at.
We just have to see how it plays out. It’s got to be a fit for everybody. There’s a lot to it financially and other things. He’s in our conversation.”

Eric Winston: “Not so much Eric. We’re not talking to Eric right now. That’s not to say it couldn’t change, but that’s not a guy we’re talking to right now.”

Draft pick for McKinnie, is it 2015: “Yes, that’s my understanding.”

Surprised by compensatory picks: “I was pleased that they were that high. We knew that was a possibility. It just goes to show you the quality of
the players that we lost. We led the league since 2008 in terms of losing players and having success through that. We’re pretty proud of that.
Compensatory picks go with losing good players. We try to make good use of those picks. That was really good news.”

Torrey Smith extension talks: “I know nothing. I know the coach wants him long term.”

Corey Graham: “He was hugely valuable to us, and we were very disappointed to lose him. In the end, we couldn’t compete with Buffalo’s offer and the
fact that he was going back home. That means a lot to Corey and his family. He’s a really good football player. They paid him accordingly. He’s a great
special teams player. But, like we said before, sometimes these players who are great special teams players get labeled and people assume they’re not
good defensive players. He got the opportunity with us to demonstrate how well he could play corner.”

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Harbaugh addresses slew of topics at NFL owners meetings

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Harbaugh addresses slew of topics at NFL owners meetings

Posted on 25 March 2014 by Luke Jones

Speaking to reporters gathered in Orlando for this week’s NFL owners meetings, Ravens coach John Harbaugh touched on an array of topics ranging Tuesday morning, from the status of running back Ray Rice to the backup quarterback position.

A day after owner Steve Bisciotti made it clear that Rice would remain with the organization despite his legal trouble, Harbaugh reiterated his support for the troubled 27-year-old while acknowledging the obvious embarrassment felt over the Ravens’ three arrests this offseason that have prompted many to question team leadership. Wide receiver Deonte Thompson and offensive lineman Jah Reid were also arrested in a three-week period that started with Rice’s domestic violence incident in Atlantic City last month.

Harbaugh confirmed what many assumed in stating that newly-acquired veteran Jeremy Zuttah projects to be the Ravens’ starting center in 2014, replacing incumbent and 2012 fourth-round pick Gino Gradkowski.

“We traded for Jeremy for him to be the starting center. That’s the plan,” Harbaugh told reporters in Orlando. “[I] had a conversation with Gino yesterday. It was good communication and he’s in a good place. Gino’s a solid young guy. Jeremy is a more experienced center/guard in this league. The thing I liked on tape – we studied him pretty hard – he’s a big, rangy guy. He’s got length, he’s got size in there, he’s got experience and he’s also got, we think, a knack for the scheme we’re going to run offensively. He’s a good fit for us.”

The coach added that the organization would prefer to keep Kelechi Osemele at left guard and views second-year lineman Rick Wagner as the current starting right tackle among players under contract. Of course, the Ravens are expected to continue the search for more help in free agency and the draft, so the offensive line remains fluid beyond the four known starters: left tackle Eugene Monroe, right guard Marshal Yanda, Zuttah, and Osemele.

After recent reports that the Ravens were interested in quarterback Brandon Weeden before he signed in Dallas, Harbaugh confirmed that the organization is exploring the possibility of adding another quarterback. Current backup Tyrod Taylor has one year remaining on his rookie contract, but the head coach confirmed that the Ravens haven’t been overwhelmed with how the 2011 sixth-round pick has played in limited opportunities. Baltimore has carried only two quarterbacks on its 53-man roster in each of the last four seasons.

“We’ve been very happy with Tyrod, and we feel like he has a great future,” Harbaugh said, “but we have been a little disappointed how he’s played in games certainly. We feel like he’s a lot better than he’s showed. I know he feels that way too. We feel like Tyrod’s best football is by far definitely in front of him, but he’s only got one year left with us, so we need to add a quarterback into the mix, whether it be offseason or in the draft.”

The tight end position remains a point of discussion as Harbaugh confirmed interest in re-signing Ed Dickson while acknowledging interest in former Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels, who obviously has strong ties with new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak and new tight ends coach Brian Pariani. Dennis Pitta and University of Maryland product Matt Furstenburg are the only tight ends currently under contract.

Reporters asked Harbaugh about the status of retired linebacker Rolando McClain, whose rights are still owned by the Ravens. The coach didn’t completely rule out a return for the 24-year-old but added that he hasn’t spoken to McClain and remains skeptical unless he receives proof that the former Oakland Raider is working hard and is serious about returning to football.

“Who [is he] as a person right now? Has he grown up?” Harbaugh said of McClain. “He had a lot of growing up to do obviously. And how hard he’s working, how hard he’s working at Alabama right now. If he’s working his rear end off, then I’m kind of excited about him. If he’s not, then I’ve got no interest in him being on our team.”

Harbaugh confirmed that the Ravens will pick up the contract option for 2011 first-round cornerback Jimmy Smith as this is the first year we’ve seen this part of the rookie system come into play after the collective bargaining agreement that went into effect in 2011 standardized four-year contracts for all drafted players. The system does present teams a fifth-year option to use for first-round picks entering the final year of their rookie deals. The Ravens hope to sign both Smith and wide receiver Torrey Smith — also entering the final year of his rookie deal — to long-term extensions to keep them in Baltimore.

Baltimore is still looking to draft a safety despite last week’s signing of Darian Stewart, and Harbaugh offered praise for Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who is projected to be a first-round pick and regarded as the top safety in the draft. General manager Ozzie Newsome said at the start of the offseason that the Ravens would be looking to add a more athletic safety with 2013 first-round pick Matt Elam expected to play closer to the line of scrimmage.

“Safeties are interchangeable these days,” Harbaugh said. “There are certain traits you look for. I’m looking at the safeties now in the draft. You want tacklers and you want guys with range and you wants guys with ball skills.”

The Ravens would also like to add depth on the defensive line following the free-agent departure of Arthur Jones, but 2013 third-round pick Brandon Williams is the current favorite to take Jones’ starting spot.

According to the coach, Kubiak recently put the finishing touches on the Ravens’ new offensive playbook before it was then distributed to players. Harbaugh was also told that quarterback Joe Flacco has plans to get together with his wide receivers for informal throwing sessions before the start of the offseason training program next month.

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Bisciotti vows troubled running back Ray Rice not going anywhere

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Bisciotti vows troubled running back Ray Rice not going anywhere

Posted on 25 March 2014 by Luke Jones

Echoing the sentiments offered by head coach John Harbaugh and general Ozzie Newsome in recent weeks, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti offered his support to running back Ray Rice and reiterated that he will be part of the team in 2014.

Speaking to The Baltimore Sun as the league meetings commenced in Orlando on Monday, Bisciotti described the incident as “disappointing” and one that the running back will live with for the rest of his life, but Rice’s future with the organization — at least for the upcoming season — isn’t in jeopardy regardless of how the legal situation is resolved. Rice and Janay Palmer were arrested and charged with simple assault-domestic violence in mid-February after the two allegedly struck one another with their hands.

“Ray will be here,” Bisciotti said. “This is a singular moment six years after we drafted him. It’s embarrassing for him and his fiancée. It is especially hard to see somebody that is proud of his reputation have to take this kind of public-relations hit.”

Atlantic City police referred the case to the county prosecutor’s office for review, but there’s been no update if any additional or different charges have been filed.

NOTES: The Ravens awarded Harbaugh with an extra year on his current contract, extending him through the 2017 season. Bisciotti said he offered an extra year to his head coach as a show of support that nothing has changed in his mind despite Baltimore missing the postseason last year for the first time since 2007. … Bisciotti also confirmed the Ravens will honor future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis with a statue planned to be unveiled outside M&T Bank Stadium before the start of the 2014 season. The likeness of Lewis will stand in Unitas Plaza.

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Big picture key as Ravens enter free agency with much uncertainty

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Big picture key as Ravens enter free agency with much uncertainty

Posted on 07 March 2014 by Luke Jones

After more than two months of preparation following a disappointing 8-8 season, the Ravens will officially see offseason business pick up with the start of free agency on Tuesday afternoon.

General manager Ozzie Newsome has already taken care of two of his own — signing linebacker Terrell Suggs and tight end Dennis Pitta to long-term contracts — as well as parted ways with two key veterans — linebacker Jameel McClain and fullback Vonta Leach — but plenty of work remains as the Ravens try to rebound from the first non-playoff campaign of the John Harbaugh era. Even with roughly $25 million in salary cap space prior to the tendering of exclusive-rights and restricted free agents, the concerns are plentiful with gaping holes on the offensive line as well as needs at wide receiver, free safety, and inside linebacker.

Just 13 months removed from their second Super Bowl title, the Ravens are facing heat to bounce back from a failed season in their eyes, but the cupboard is far from bare considering they were just one win away from the postseason despite their many issues — particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Pitta returning next season at full strength as well as the addition of new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak will be viewed by many as instant improvements for an offense that finished 29th in the NFL last season.

“There are teams that are a whole lot more disappointed,” owner Steve Bisciotti said at the season-ending press conference. “If we found ourselves at 3-13, like the Falcons, then I think that they’re sitting there thinking, ‘We’ve got to make a lot of changes.’ I really don’t think that we do. If 8-8 is a failure, I hope it’s a long time before I feel worse than this. That’s just the way it goes.”

With the offseason ready to kick into high gear as teams can begin negotiating with other free agents this weekend before the market officially opens for business at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, here are a few themes to remember between now and the start of the 2014 season:

1. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

With a few rare exceptions such as the quick signings of wide receiver Derrick Mason and cornerback Samari Rolle in 2005, the Ravens haven’t been swift to act in free agency, instead allowing other teams to overspend in an effort to make a splash in March.

This lesson is forgotten annually as many confuse Newsome’s methodical ways with hesitancy and indecision. The temptation can be strong to throw money at a top wide receiver such as Hakeem Nicks or Eric Decker or a top offensive tackle like Branden Albert or Jared Veldheer, but the market will be full of potential suitors for their services, potentially driving up the price to unreasonable levels.

Typically, the best free-agent value comes in the second and third wave of activity where the Ravens pride themselves in identifying so-called “80-20″ guys who theoretically provide 80 percent of the production of an incumbent or marquee free agent for 20 percent of the cost. Examples of such players might be Cincinnati left tackle Anthony Collins or a cheaper slot option such as Philadelphia’s Jason Avant who could presumably be coupled with a rookie in the draft.

The abundance of cap space now compared to recent years provides flexibility but encourages stupidity if you’re not careful. Newsome made it clear in January that the Ravens have every intention of adding an impact wide receiver and laid out the avenues in which that goal — along with others — can be achieved.

“That player will be available between now [and September], whether it’s in free agency, whether he’s a cap casualty, whether it’s in the draft or whether it’s through trade,” Newsome said. “There is no reason that he might not be here at the beginning of the season, but I always try to leave myself a little leeway to give us a chance to get it right.”

Remember that there’s no Lombardi awarded in mid-March.

2. Use all outlets in moderation.

It isn’t solely about re-signing your own free agents, playing the open market, looking for trades, or relying on the draft.

Everything in moderation.

We’ve already seen this play out to some degree as the Ravens elected not to use the franchise tag on left tackle Eugene Monroe, who is reportedly looking for upwards of $10 million per season. Even after giving up fourth- and fifth-round picks last October to acquire the former Jaguars tackle, the Ravens simply didn’t feel Monroe was worth the $11.65 million franchise tag tender and are likely to lose him as a result of not seeing eye to eye over his value.

“If things don’t happen before Tuesday, then we’re going to have to build a team the way we build it in other directions,” Harbaugh said. “But we’re working really hard to get that done right now. We want to keep our guys, and we want our guys to be here just like Dennis. We want to keep those guys.”

Beyond Monroe, the Ravens would like to keep inside linebacker Daryl Smith and a couple others such as wide receiver Jacoby Jones and cornerback Corey Graham, but you can’t fall in love with your own players in the same way that you don’t want to throw lucrative money at a free agent on the first day of business. It’s for this reason that Baltimore is pretty much resigned to the idea of defensive tackle Arthur Jones walking away for a bigger contract elsewhere since Brandon Williams, DeAngelo Tyson, and Kapron Lewis-Moore are waiting in the wings and they have many needs elsewhere.

Though patience is key, the Ravens shouldn’t — and can’t — wait until the draft and expect their many positional needs to be filled with only four scheduled picks as well as four anticipated compensatory picks.

Again, rely on everything in moderation.

3. Don’t alter how you value players because of a greater amount of salary cap space.


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Harbaugh says Rice, fiancée to attend couples seminar

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Harbaugh says Rice, fiancée to attend couples seminar

Posted on 05 March 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — While they await a court date regarding an alleged domestic altercation that occurred in Atlantic City last month, Ravens running back Ray Rice and his fiancée plan to attend a couples seminar to work out their issues.

Rice and Janay Palmer were arrested and charged with simple assault-domestic violence following the incident at an Atlantic City casino. A court summons said they struck each other with their hands and that Rice rendered his fiancée unconscious.

The Ravens continue to gather information about the altercation and general manager Ozzie Newsome acknowledged at last month’s NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis that the portion of the surveillance video released by TMZ didn’t look good, but the general manager said that he feels positive about Rice’s side of the story.

“I’ve talked to Ray a lot, and [I have] really nothing to add other than what’s been said already,” coach John Harbaugh said at a Wednesday press conference to announce tight end Dennis Pitta’s new five-year, $32 million contract. “The facts will determine the consequences, and we’ll see where it goes. I haven’t seen anything different, just like you haven’t seen anything different.

“Ray has told me his side of it, and everything that we’ve seen so far is very consistent with what he’s said. There’s nothing he’s said that hasn’t turned out to be the case. I know Ray is going to spend a week at a seminar-type of thing as a couples-type deal. He’s doing everything he can to do what he needs to do and make things right.”

The original court date was canceled last month and has yet to be rescheduled after Atlantic City police turned the case over to the prosecutor’s office for further review in determining whether additional or different charges needed to be filed.

Flacco, receivers plan to get to work

With Pitta now locked up for the next five years as a critical contributor in the passing game, the 28-year-old now plans to get together with quarterback Joe Flacco and the other wide receivers under contract to begin working prior to the start of the offseason program and organized team activities.

Pitta said he likes what he’s seen of new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s system and wants to put in extra time working with Flacco and his other teammates in trying to jump-start a passing game that ranked 18th in the NFL last season.

“We’ve talked about it, and it’s nothing set in stone right now,” Pitta said. “I know that’s something Joe wants to get done. He wants to be able to meet with us and kind of get on the same page and go over some of the new things that we’re going to be doing. I’m sure we’ll get that ironed out in the next few weeks.”

NFL teams with returning head coaches may begin their offseason programs on April 21.

Pitta supports Jimmy Graham’s franchise tag grievance

After much discussion of possibly receiving the franchise tag before agreeing to a long-term deal last week, Pitta empathized with New Orleans’s Jimmy Graham, who is filing a grievance with the league over being designated  at the tight end position as the Saints’ franchise player.

Graham took a majority of his snaps lined up out wide and in the slot last season and contends that he should be viewed as a wide receiver, which would mean receiving a tender of $12.132 million instead of the $7.053 million specified for the tight end position. Pitta could have made a similar argument after lining up in the slot on 79.7 percent of his snaps last season.

“I think he’s been a top producer in this league, certainly on his team, [and] led his team in catches, yards, touchdowns,” Pitta said. “Why all of a sudden, because he’s labeled as a tight end, does that devalue his stock? I think it’s something that he should challenge because it’s not right that he can catch more touchdowns and more yards than maybe someone who is classified as a wide receiver, yet because he has that tight end label, now all of a sudden his value is cut in half.”

Not following in Flacco’s footsteps

After being asked whether he’d celebrate his new contract in a similar manner to how Flacco commemorated his record-setting $120.6 million deal last offseason, Pitta made it clear that his best friend on the team will still be taking care of the bill when they meet for dinner.

“I probably won’t go to McDonald’s after this,” said Pitta, laughing as he recalled Flacco’s highly-publicized first meal after officially signing a nine-figure contract. “No, I didn’t get Joe Flacco money, so he will still be paying for dinners.”

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Newsome says Ravens could bring back McClain or Leach

Posted on 27 February 2014 by WNST Staff


The Baltimore Ravens have terminated the contracts of vested veterans FB Vonta Leach and LB Jameel McClain, general manager/executive vice president Ozzie Newsome announced Thursday.

“Vonta and Jameel are two of our most important players over the last few seasons, helping us to the playoffs and giving the Ravens the Super Bowl win after the 2012 season,” Newsome stated. “Vonta proved to be one of the best fullbacks in the league, plus he added leadership and toughness to our offense. Jameel is a Ravens’ success story who came to us as a rookie free agent. He changed positions from playing on the defensive line and outside to becoming a good inside linebacker and starter. People close to our team understand his commitment to being the best he can be and the leadership he gave on and off the field.

“There could come a point later on when we would consider bringing back Vonta and Jameel. They are our types of players.”

A 10-year NFL veteran and three-time Pro Bowl selection, Leach spent the past three seasons with the Ravens, earning All-Star honors twice (2011-12). Seeing action in 146 career games (79 starts), Leach originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Green Bay Packers in 2004. In his three seasons with the Ravens, he played in all 48 games (36 starts) and served as the lead blocker for RB Ray Rice, who was tabbed as a Pro Bowler during the 2011 and 2012 campaigns.

“He’s the big, physical fullback you like to have when you pound the ball and are on special teams,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “And, who doesn’t like Vonta? He’s fun to be around, and his personality helped lift the energy at a lot of practices. People know we like to be physically dominating, and when we did that in recent years, Vonta was a big part of that.”

McClain, a six-year NFL veteran, originally signed with the Ravens as a rookie free agent in 2008. Seeing action in 87 career games (55 starts), he recorded 338 tackles (214 solo), 4.5 sacks (-33.5 yards), one interception, 10 passes defensed, three fumble recoveries (one returned for a touchdown) and one forced fumble. McClain’s 338 stops rank 17th on the Ravens’ all-time tackles chart, while he also registered a franchise-record two safeties (both during his 2008 rookie season).

“There is so much to like about Jameel, the player and the person,” Harbaugh added. “He’s a true leader, and his story from rookie free agent to NFL starter is one of the best in the league. You give him so much credit for finding a way to become the player he is. He’s one of those guys who gets the most out of his ability. He has a lot of football left, and maybe, that could be with the Ravens down the line.

“Both of these men helped the Ravens win a lot of games and the Super Bowl Championship. We are thankful for all they gave us.”

McClain earned the team’s 2013 Ed Block Courage Award after returning from a spinal cord contusion injury he sustained in 2012. Missing the final three regular season games and each playoff contest in 2012, McClain then sat out the first six games of the 2013 campaign before returning for its final 10 contests (all starts). He totaled 50 tackles (27 solo) and one forced fumble last season.

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Ravens release McClain, Leach in cap-saving maneuvers

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Ravens release McClain, Leach in cap-saving maneuvers

Posted on 27 February 2014 by Luke Jones

Even with an estimated $20 million of salary cap space at their disposal with free agency approaching next month, the Ravens parted ways with two veteran starters to free up more resources on Thursday.

Baltimore announced that inside linebacker Jameel McClain and fullback Vonta Leach were being released in cap-saving maneuvers. By doing so, the Ravens save a total of $4.95 million in room as free agency is set to begin on March 11.

“There could come a point later on when we would consider bringing back Vonta and Jameel,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a team statement. “They are our types of players.”

McClain told WNST.net that the Ravens would like to have him back at a reduced rate and that “the story’s not finished.” The seventh-year linebacker agreed to a pay cut from $3 million to $1.5 million in base salary this past season as he started the year on the physically unable to perform list while recovering from a spinal cord contusion suffered on Dec. 9, 2012.

Meanwhile, the 32-year-old Leach posted a message of thanks on his official Twitter account that included a collage of photos from his three-year run with the organization. The veteran fullback made it clear at the end of the season that he saw the writing on the wall for his future with the Ravens after he played a total of just 12 offensive snaps in the final three games of the season. Of course, Leach was previously cut last summer before re-signing with the Ravens at a reduced rate and seeing his role in the offense diminish as the running game set franchise-worst marks.

“Obviously, I wasn’t in the offense a whole lot this year,” Leach said the day after the season end in late December. “If they had a role for me, ideally, I’d want to come back here. I understand that this is a business.”

Baltimore drafted fullback Kyle Juszczyk in the fourth round last season and could add more of a blocking fullback via the draft or free agency if new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak deems it necessary. Leach is entering his 11th season and is a three-time Pro Bowl selection, two of those honors received while playing for the Ravens and blocking for fellow Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice.

The 28-year-old McClain represents one of the better stories in franchise history of an undrafted rookie not only making the 53-man roster in 2008 but carving out a significant role in the defense, starting in 55 games and collecting 316 tackles over the last five years. Told by some he’d never play football again after injuring his neck in 2012, McClain played 10 games last season and made 52 tackles.

“He’s a true leader, and his story from rookie free agent to NFL starter is one of the best in the league,” coach John Harbaugh said in a team release. “You give him so much credit for finding a way to become the player he is. He’s one of those guys who gets the most out of his ability. He has a lot of football left, and maybe, that could be with the Ravens down the line.”

With the Ravens drafting inside linebacker Arthur Brown in the second round of the 2013 draft and already engaging in talks with pending free agent Daryl Smith, McClain’s price tag was deemed too high for a team with a plethora of needs this offseason.

Neither move is surprising as McClain and Leach topped the list of possible cap casualties as the Ravens attempt to bounce back from their first non-playoff season of the Harbaugh era. Also thought to be a potential cut at the start of the offseason, punter Sam Koch — set to count for $2.8 million against the cap in 2014 — told WNST.net Thursday afternoon that he hadn’t heard anything in terms of his roster standing

Newsome and the front office remain in negotiations with tight end Dennis Pitta and left tackle Eugene Monroe as both are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. Reports indicate the Ravens are making progress with Pitta before Monday’s deadline to use the franchise tag while they remain far apart in their discussions with Monroe.

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Miami of Ohio to dedicate statue to Harbaugh on April 19

Posted on 27 February 2014 by WNST Staff


OXFORD, Ohio – Super Bowl champion coach John Harbaugh, a 1984 graduate of Miami University, will be inducted into the Cradle of Coaches Association and immortalized with a statue at Yager Stadium’s Cradle of Coaches Plaza on Saturday, April 19. Harbaugh’s bronze, full-body image will depict him on the sidelines as coach of the 2013 Super Bowl XLVII champion Baltimore Ravens.

The festivities will begin at 11 a.m. with the ground breaking of the Indoor Sports Center, followed by the statue dedication at 11:30. The dedication will take place in the Cradle of Coaches Plaza on the south end of Yager Stadium. The public is encouraged to attend and are invited to watch a football practice after the completion of the ceremony. All three events will be free to attend.

Prior to the unveiling, a reception and dinner will take place on Friday, April 18, beginning at 5 p.m. inside the Shriver Center on the campus of Miami University. For more details on the event contact Brenda Bertsch at 513-529-8097 or bertscbs@miamioh.edu.

The statue of Harbaugh will join the existing Cradle of Coaches statues of Earl “Red” Blaik, Paul Brown, Carm Cozza, Paul Dietzel, Wilbur “Weeb” Ewbank, Ara Parseghian, John Pont and Glenn “Bo” Schembechler. The statues honor Miami graduates who have earned recognition as national collegiate or professional coaches of the year, who have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame or the Pro Football Hall of Fame, or whose teams won national collegiate or professional/Super Bowl championships.

Harbaugh’s image also will be added to the Cradle of Coaches mural that is on front of the scoreboard on the south end of Yager Stadium.

Following the 34-31 triumph by his Baltimore Ravens over the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 3, 2013, Harbaugh joined Ewbank (’28) as members of Miami’s famed Cradle of Coaches who have taken their teams to NFL supremacy. One other Miamian, Paul Brown (’30), won NFL World Champion titles in 1950, ’54 and ’55 as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. In addition, Ewbank’s Baltimore Colts of 1958 and ’59 were also pre-Super Bowl NFL champs.

Inspired by Bob Kurz, who coined the phrase “Cradle of Coaches”, a donation for the Plaza was originally presented to the University in 1994 from Kurz and his wife, Marian. Located adjacent to the south end of Yager Stadium, the Plaza is a tribute to the nine Miami graduates who have earned recognition as national collegiate or professional coaches of the year and/or been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame or Pro Football Hall of Fame, or who have won a Super Bowl.

A generous gift from the family of Thomas P. Van Voorhis, announced August 27, 2009, has helped provide the crowning touches to the Cradle of Coaches Plaza. The $1.0 million gift, provided by Daniel T. Van Voorhis-a grandson of Thomas P. Van Voorhis and a successful businessman-has been used to create nine heroic-scale figures to represent and honor the men at the heart of the Cradle of Coaches tradition. The statue of Thomas Van Voorhis stands just outside the gates of the Plaza. Harbaugh’s statue will be the ninth coach and the 10th overall addition to the plaza.

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Ravens wouldn’t designate Pitta’s position if franchise tag comes into play

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Ravens wouldn’t designate Pitta’s position if franchise tag comes into play

Posted on 26 February 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are less than a week away from needing to decide whether to use the franchise tag on tight end Dennis Pitta, but it appears that the potential conflict over the position at which he’ll be tagged won’t be up to them.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rappoport, when a team sends a letter to the league announcing its intention to name a franchise player, it does not designate that player at a specific position. In Pitta’s case, the league — not the Ravens — would then determine whether he is to be tagged as a tight end or wide receiver.

Much like New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, Pitta is expected to file a grievance through the NFL Players Association arguing that he should be tagged as a wide receiver after he lined up in the slot on 79.7 percent of his snaps in 2013. The collective bargaining agreement states that a franchise player is to be tendered at the position “at which [he] participated in the most plays during the prior league year.”

The 2014 salary cap hasn’t been officially set — with new reports surfacing that the cap may climb higher than $130 million — but the current estimated franchise tenders for the tight end and wide receiver positions are $6.89 million and $11.86 million, respectively.

Teams have until Monday at 4 p.m. to elect to name a franchise player.

This clarification serves to benefit the Ravens in two important ways while they continue negotiations to lock up the 28-year-old tight end to a long-term agreement.

First, it would seem to eliminate any argument that a player could be deemed an unrestricted free agent if an arbitrator were to find a team had incorrectly tagged a player and, thus, missed the March 3 deadline to designate him properly. There had been some speculation about Graham — and possibly Pitta — using this argument as a way to still be able to cash in on a monster free-agent contract in 2014, but with teams not being the ones to designate a franchise player’s position, it’s assumed that the franchise tender amount would simply be altered from one figure to another with the tag remaining in place.

Secondly, this process would appear to diminish animosity over a franchise-tag fight with the Ravens having no say over Pitta being tagged as a tight end or a wide receiver. Of course, contract negotiations can create plenty of tension already without the added element of a position squabble that could mean a difference of nearly $5 million in salary.

The Ravens are expected to use the franchise tag on Pitta if they can’t sign him prior to March 3, but coach John Harbaugh wasn’t ready to rule out the possibility of the organization allowing the fifth-year tight end to test the open market. Free agency officially begins at 4 p.m. on March 11.

“I think every scenario is possible here,” Harbaugh told reporters in Indianapolis last week. “The franchise tag is very vague right now, so anything could happen.”

Pitta’s age is something to consider as he’s older than most players entering their fifth season after he took a two-year mission trip during his college days at Brigham Young. And that, coupled with the confusion over the franchise tag, has made these negotiations more complicated than many anticipated.

Of course, the Ravens would prefer to get a deal ironed out sooner rather than later, but no agreement was considered imminent at the conclusion of the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis earlier this week.

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Harbaugh expects Rice to remain with Ravens despite legal trouble

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Harbaugh expects Rice to remain with Ravens despite legal trouble

Posted on 21 February 2014 by Luke Jones

Head coach John Harbaugh broke his silence Friday on the arrest of Ray Rice by saying he expects the troubled running back to remain with the Ravens.

Speaking to reporters gathered at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Harbaugh was asked if there was a scenario in which he envisioned the 27-year-old not remaining with the organization this season.

“Not that I’m aware of,” Harbaugh said. “I haven’t seen anything that would remotely make me think that. … The facts will determine the consequences, always. That’s always the case. It’s a process.”

Rice and fiancée Janay Palmer were both arrested and charged with simple assault-domestic violence after an alleged physical altercation at an Atlantic City casino last weekend. Despite video surfacing of Rice appearing to drag an unconscious Palmer from an elevator and the court summons saying he struck her and rendered her unconscious, the pair were released and allowed to return home together.

Harbaugh confirmed that he spoke with Rice about the incident over the telephone earlier this week.

“The two people obviously have a couple issues that they have to work through, and they’re both committed to doing that.,” Harbaugh said. “That was the main takeaway for me from the conversation. They understand their own issues. They’re getting a lot of counseling and those kinds of things, so I think that’s really positive. That was the main takeaway.”

Of course, the Ravens remain in information-gathering mode as general manager Ozzie Newsome said Monday at a press conference to announce a contract extension for linebacker Terrell Suggs.

It was surprising for the head coach to speak so openly regarding Rice’s status considering how negatively the charge has been met publicly, but Harbaugh reminded everyone that much remains unknown about the case.

“There are a lot of facts and a process that has to be worked through in anything like this,” Harbaugh said. “There are a lot of question marks. But Ray’s character, you guys know his character, so you start with that.”

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