Tag Archive | "lee evans"

Ravens officially part ways with veteran cornerback Foxworth

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Ravens officially part ways with veteran cornerback Foxworth

Posted on 05 March 2012 by Luke Jones

Waiting only for the results of a physical, the Ravens officially announced the termination of cornerback Domonique Foxworth’s contract on Monday afternoon.

The team cited Foxworth failing a physical after the veteran missed the entire 2010 season and most of last season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in his right knee on the eve of training camp two summers ago.

“We appreciate all Domonique did for us the past three years, both with his play and his important leadership off the field,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a team statement. “This does not preclude us from bringing back Domonique back at a later date.”

Set to make a reported $5.6 million in base salary and owning a cap number of $8.6 million for the 2012 season, the former University of Maryland star and Randallstown native likely knew his fate was sealed when his surgically-repaired knee failed to respond well enough to contribute to the Baltimore defense in 2011. In a similar situation to fellow veteran Chris Carr — who was released last Friday — Foxworth found himself supplanted by the Ravens’ young trio of Lardarius Webb, Cary Williams, and Jimmy Smith.

With Foxworth, Carr, and wide receiver Lee Evans no longer under contract, the Ravens have shaved an estimated $10.5 million from their salary cap with free agency set to begin next week.

The 28-year-old Foxworth was signed to a four-year contract prior to the 2009 season and started all 16 games in his first year in Baltimore, intercepting four passes and finishing with 53 tackles. He admitted his involvement in the collective bargaining agreement negotiations during last year’s lockout affected his ability to rehab his surgically-repaired knee, leading him to appear in only two games in 2011 before being placed on injured reserve.

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Ravens place franchise tag on Rice; make cuts of Evans, Carr official

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Ravens place franchise tag on Rice; make cuts of Evans, Carr official

Posted on 02 March 2012 by Luke Jones

After weeks of speculation, the Ravens have officially placed their franchise tag on running back Ray Rice less than two weeks before he was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

After leading the NFL with 2,068 yards from scrimmage and being named to his second Pro Bowl team, Rice will now be issued the franchise tender for running backs, reported to be $7.7 million in 2012. Playing out the final year of a four-year contract he signed as a second-round pick in 2008, Rice made only $550,000 in base salary as one of the best bargains in the league in 2011.

“Obviously, I don’t feel like I’m going anywhere,” Ray Rice said following the season. “But, it’s just one of those processes where you want to wait and see what happens, and hopefully me and the Ravens come to a great long-term deal. That’s the goal. I see myself here — I’m a Raven.”

Rice becomes only the fifth player in franchise history to receive the franchise tag, joining offensive lineman Wally Williams, cornerback Chris McAlister, linebacker Terrell Suggs, and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Of the previous four, only Williams failed to receive a long-term contract after receiving the designation. Given the short shelf life of running backs historically, some have suggested the Ravens should simply wait on a long-term extension for Rice and allow him to play with the tag in 2012, but general manager Ozzie Newsome has made his intentions clear when it comes to his star running back.

“We have used the franchise tag only so we can get a long-term deal,” Newsome said at the NFL rookie combine in Indianapolis last week. “We would like for Ray Rice to have a long career in Baltimore. If we have to franchise him, that would be the reason why.”

Newsome re-iterated that statement Friday.

“As we have in the past, placing the franchise designation on a player allows us to keep negotiating on a long-term contract. Our goal is to keep Ray Rice a Raven. We’ve done this with other outstanding players through our history, including Haloti Ngata a year ago.”

The Ravens will have until July 15 to reach an agreement with Rice’s agent Todd France on a contract or Rice must play the 2012 season under the $7.7 million tender. Baltimore would have the option of using the tag again in 2013, but Rice’s 2012 salary would increase by 120 percent.

Throughout last season, Rice downplayed the significance of his expiring contract, acknowledging the business side of football and never questioning the Ravens’ commitment to him. The running back could elect to hold out during training camp if the sides fail to reach a long-term agreement in July, but history suggests the Ravens will take care of the 5-foot-8 back.

Rice has rushed for a minimum of 1,220 yards in each of the last three seasons and scored a career-high 15 touchdowns in 2011.

France and the Ravens held contract discussions in Indianapolis last weekend, but negotiations for both Rice and quarterback Joe Flacco — who has one year remaining on his deal — are expected to stretch into the late spring or summer before any potential deal is reached.

“The reality of it is those [deals] are going to take a little longer,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We’re going to have a lot of contract conversations and different guys we’ll be talking to and even trying to get signed. Maybe even the draft will happen. Those guys will kind of overarch that whole process.

“Ultimately, I think we all believe that those two guys will be on the team for a long time.”

Ravens make cuts official

The Ravens also announced the cuts of wide receiver Lee Evans and cornerback Chris Carr, who was told Thursday about his release from the team.

The team is also prepared to release cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who missed most of last season while still recovering from a torn ACL suffered at the beginning of training camp in 2010, but the move has not been announced as of Friday afternoon.

Evans had a $5.61 million cap number for 2012, and was set to make $3.3 million in base salary and was scheduled to receive a $ 1 million roster bonus on March 18th if he remained with the club.

Evans, 30, battled an ankle injury all season after coming over in a preseason trade with the Buffalo Bills. He appeared in nine games and started two.

He caught four passes for 74 yards and, of course, faced criticism for his key drop in the Ravens 23-20 loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.

Carr was released one season into a four-year contract he signed last summer.

He was scheduled to receive $2.5 million in 2012.

Newsome said those two moves were difficult for him and team personnel to make.

“Each year, we have to make tough, difficult decisions to manage our roster,” Newsome said. “Chris Carr and Lee Evans were valuable Ravens, and both helped us get to the AFC Championship game and the brink of the Super Bowl last season with the way they played and the maturity they added to the locker room.”

However, Newsome said the door is not shut on either one to return to the club.

“As we talked about when we informed Chris and Lee of these moves, this does not close the door on them coming back to the Ravens.”

WNST.net’s Ryan Chell contributed to this report.

 

 

 

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Ravens release veteran cornerback Chris Carr

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Ravens release veteran cornerback Chris Carr

Posted on 01 March 2012 by Luke Jones

In a move that comes as no surprise, the Ravens will cut veteran cornerback Chris Carr in a move to free up money on the salary cap with free agency less than two weeks away.

First reported by Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network on Thursday, Carr was reportedly set to make a base salary of $2.5 million in 2012 and carried a cap number of $3.45 million.

Hamstring and back injuries forced Carr to miss seven games in 2011 after the seven-year pro had previously never missed a game in his career. He made one start, collecting 19 tackles and three pass breakups. The 28-year-old started all 16 games for the Ravens in 2010, intercepting two passes and making 67 tackles while serving as the team’s most reliable cornerback with Domonique Foxworth missing the season with a torn ACL and Lardarius Webb not 100 percent recovered for his own ACL tear the previous December.

“Thanks everyone in [Baltimore] love the team and the city,” Carr said from his official Twitter account. “It’s a business, I think it was the best for both parties.”

After signing a new four-year contract last July, Carr entered training camp as a favorite to start, but a hamstring injury forced him to miss the second half of the preseason as young cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams secured starting spots on the Baltimore defense. Predicting Carr’s fate in Baltimore became all but elementary when he was a healthy inactive in the Ravens’ divisional playoff win against the Houston Texans.

The day after the season-ending loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship, Carr acknowledged to the media that he was unsure whether the Ravens would retain his services with Webb, Williams, and 2011 first-round selection Jimmy Smith leapfrogging him on the depth chart.

The Ravens are also expected to cut cornerback Domonique Foxworth and wide receiver Lee Evans in the coming days. Foxworth, who spent most of the last two seasons on injured reserve, carries an $8.6 million cap number for 2012, and his release would save just over $5.5 million in cap room.

After making just four receptions in an injury-plagued season, Evans is owed a $1 million roster bonus a few days after the start of free agency, so the Ravens would not have to fork over the cash and would save nearly $4.5 million in cap space by releasing him.

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Your Monday Reality Check-Ravens Not Surprisingly Doing Right Thing With Rice

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Your Monday Reality Check-Ravens Not Surprisingly Doing Right Thing With Rice

Posted on 27 February 2012 by Glenn Clark

Stop me if you’ve read this one before.

Nestor Aparicio and I spent the last four days at LucasOil Stadium in Indianapolis for the annual National Football League Scouting Combine. Indy has been a bit of a second home for us over the first two months of 2012. I don’t know I could ever express just how awkward that is.

CBSSports.com NFL writer Pete Prisco stopped by our set Friday afternoon to record an interview that would air later on “The Reality Check”. We talked about a number of subjects, one being the status of Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice. Let me make sure I state this. I GREATLY respect Pete Prisco as a writer and football mind. For those who aren’t familiar with him, he’s been with CBS for over a decade covering the league and has covered football even longer than that. The following are quotes from Prisco regarding Rice…

“I wouldn’t pay any running back.”
“I’d franchise him…that’s it.”
“You don’t pay running backs.”
“If you’re building your team around a running back you’ve got problems.”

Prisco rightfully pointed out that the New York Giants won the Super Bowl despite finishing 32nd in the league in rushing. He also rightfully pointed out that the Jacksonville Jaguars won just five games despite being home to the league’s top rusher (Maurice Jones-Drew). They’re relevant points, even if he ignores the fact that the Giants upped their rushing average to 116.5 yards per game in the postseason and that the Ravens had the league’s second leading rusher (Rice) and were a Lee Evans drop away from playing those Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.

Of course the NFL is more of a passing league. We’re all aware. It doesn’t mean running backs aren’t still dressing for games and making an impact every now and then.

I’m not beating up Pete Prisco here. I’m pointing out an opinion about Rice that has been popular both around Charm City and for many throughout football. There are a number of fans and analysts alike who simply don’t think the Ravens should bother giving their free agent running back a long-term extension. Local writers/bloggers/talk show hosts (including even our own Thyrl Nelson) have pointed out that economically the team would probably be better off just having Rice play under the franchise tag each of the next two seasons.

The numbers would work out to the team having to pay the back between $16-17 million combined in his fifth and sixth NFL seasons, and would not involve any sort of signing bonus. The team will certainly have to hand out much more than that should they extend Rice, even if they come in short of the “Adrian Peterson money” his representation is reportedly interested in.

I promise the next part of this column isn’t meant to be any sort of “I told you so” moment. I’m just glad we can stop discussing that ridiculous thought process anymore.

As I chased Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome out of the media room at LucasOil Stadium Friday afternoon, we had this exact exchange.

“As far as Ray Rice is concerned, it’s definitely the thought process to get an extension done-is it not any thought to franchise him for a year and go from there?” I asked.

He responded “No. We have used the franchise tag only so that we can get a long term deal. We would like for Ray Rice to have a long career in Baltimore. If we have to franchise him, that would be the reason why.”

Nothing wishy-washy there. No posturing at all. That’s about as straight of shooting as a General Manager can possibly offer.

I’m so freaking glad it was Newsome who said it this time so that I don’t have to bother fighting with anyone about it anymore. You DO NOT give the franchise tag to a player if you don’t have interest in keeping him around.

At least…you don’t do that if you’re a competent, well run organization.

(Continue reading on Page 2…)

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Newsome sounding more optimistic for Grubbs’ potential return to Ravens

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Newsome sounding more optimistic for Grubbs’ potential return to Ravens

Posted on 24 February 2012 by Luke Jones

Following the Ravens’ disappointing loss in the AFC championship game to close the 2011 season, it had been considered all but a foregone conclusion that Pro Bowl left guard Ben Grubbs had played his last game in Baltimore.

However, general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh provided a more positive spin on Friday regarding negotiations with the 2007 first-round pick. At the Ravens’ end-of-season press conference a few weeks ago, Newsome did not speak confidently about the team’s ability to sign Grubbs but offered more optimism at the NFL rookie combine in Indianapolis on Friday afternoon.

The Ravens must still decide whether they want to allocate so much money to the guard position after signing fellow Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda to a long-term deal last August, but Newsome doesn’t appear ready to throw in the towel on the former Auburn product.

“Ben is a player that we would love to have back in Baltimore,” Newsome said. “I think we’ve had some conversation with Pat Dye, his agent, already. We will see how things work out between now and the beginning of free agency on March 13.”

In order to clear enough room with the salary cap to offer enough money to entice Grubbs to stay, the Ravens will need to make several cuts, which Newsome acknowledged on Friday. The most likely candidates to be released include cornerback Domonique Foxworth, wide receiver Lee Evans, and cornerback Chris Carr.

“We’ve had the opportunity to assess our roster, and we will make some moves between now and March 13 to release some players,” Newsome said. “We’ve already got one player (running back Ricky Williams) who has decided that he was going to retire. So, we have a strategy in place that will allow us to have the ability to sign players that we want to sign.”

Evans’ cap number is scheduled to be just under $6 million in 2012, and the Ravens owe him a $1 million roster bonus a few days after the start of free agency if he is retained. With a cap number of $8.6 million in 2012, Foxworth is all but certain to be cut, which would save Baltimore roughly $5.6 million from the 2012 cap.

“I have a meeting with Foxworth when we get back next Thursday, and I don’t know what his intentions are,” Newsome said.

Though not expected to be overly active in the free-agent market, both Newsome and Harbaugh painted a promising picture of the Ravens’ salary cap situation compared to last season when they had to release key veterans Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, Willis McGahee, and Kelly Gregg prior to the start of training camp.

“You can have a lot of salary-cap room, but if you don’t have good players that doesn’t help you,” Newsome said. “We feel very good about the makeup of our roster. We have good veteran players and good young players coming along and learning from those guys. When you have good players you are in a good cap situation.”

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Ranking the Ravens’ biggest offensive needs

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Ranking the Ravens’ biggest offensive needs

Posted on 13 February 2012 by Luke Jones

If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward, or so the saying goes.

It’s been three weeks since the Ravens fell a few tenths of a second short — how much longer Lee Evans needed to hold the ball in the end zone — of advancing to Super Bowl XLVI. The organization is now faced with difficult decisions while trying to improve but also acknowledging just how excruciatingly close it came to reaching the pinnacle contest of the NFL.

With free agency set to begin in one month (March 13 at 4:00 p.m.) and the draft just over two months away, the Ravens are evaluating their biggest needs in all three phases of the game. In the first of a three-part series, I offer thoughts on the offensive side of the football and rank the positions of greatest need entering the offseason.

1. Left guard

I’ve tried to think of as many conceivable scenarios as I can for the Ravens to re-sign Pro Bowl left guard Ben Grubbs while not putting their future salary cap space in jeopardy, but I continue to come back to the same theme over and over.

In the modern era, NFL teams simply cannot and do not spent an extraordinary amount of money at the guard position. And after signing Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda to a $32 million contract with $10 million guaranteed, it’s difficult envisioning general manager Ozzie Newsome forking over even more money for Grubbs, especially with quarterback Joe Flacco and cornerback Lardarius Webb set to become free agents following the 2012 season.

Neither the Ravens nor Grubbs have spoken with any level of confidence that the 2007 first-round pick will be back in Baltimore, so a hometown discount appears unlikely. Though Baltimore has retained all but one (2005 selection Mark Clayton) of its first-round picks since 2002, it appears Grubbs will find a new home in 2012.

So, how do the Ravens replace him? The only viable in-house candidate might be 2011 third-round tackle Jah Reid, who practiced at both tackle and guard last season, but his 6-foot-7 frame isn’t ideal inside and he’d be making the transition from the right tackle position.

The draft would figure to be the logical outlet, with a young guard such as Stanford’s David DeCastro or Georgia’s Cordy Glenn potentially available at the end of the first round. However, the Ravens could elect to address other positions of need in the early rounds and roll the dice in finding a competent veteran on the free-agent market.

2. Center

On the surface, the center position would appear to be an urgent need with no veteran currently under contract for 2012, but the Ravens have short-term veteran options in Matt Birk and Andre Gurode.

Birk has yet to decide whether he’ll play in 2012 or retire, but the Ravens could elect to re-sign the five-time Pro Bowl center Gurode, who is three years younger. Regardless of which way the Ravens go, they will need to think about the future at the position with both players close to the end of their respective careers.

Former Ohio State product Justin Boren finished the season on the practice squad and could be a center to groom for 2013 and beyond. Should the Ravens elect to draft a center in April, it likely wouldn’t be until the middle or late rounds unless Wisconsin’s Peter Konz would strike their fancy at the end of the first round.

3. Wide receiver

The receiver position has seemingly showed up on the list every year, but this unit appears to be in better shape than it has in quite some time.

Veteran Anquan Boldin is clearly not a No. 1 receiver at this point in his career, but it’s not unreasonable to expect a better season in 2012 after he played with a partially-torn meniscus for most of 2011. When he returned for the postseason after late-season surgery, Boldin appeared more effective, catching 10 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown in two playoff games.

Torrey Smith figures to only get better with a full offseason to work on his route-running and build a stronger rapport with Flacco. If he can become a bigger threat in the short-to-intermediate passing game, Smith might become the No. 1 receiver the Ravens have lacked since the infancy of the franchise.

The disappointing Evans is under contract for the 2012 season, but it’s hard to envision the Ravens paying the receiver a $1 million roster bonus in March and tolerating his near-$6 million cap number for the upcoming season. He’ll likely be released, with a small chance for a return at a reduced rate.

The Ravens would love a young receiver with height to complement the speedy Smith moving forward, but it’s easier said than done in the pass-happy NFL where every team is looking for big, speedy targets on the outside. A veteran free agent such as Reggie Wayne, Marques Colston, or Dwayne Bowe would provide another threat at receiver but would not provide the height the Baltimore receiving group lacks. San Diego wideout Vincent Jackson would be the ideal 6-foot-5 name in free agency, but his price tag will be hefty.

Adding another impact wide receiver might be the only way to truly gauge whether Flacco can take the passing game to the next level, and the Ravens will try their best to do it this offseason.

4. Running back

(see next page)

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Your Monday Reality Check-Wounds Re-Open With Arrival in Indianapolis

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Your Monday Reality Check-Wounds Re-Open With Arrival in Indianapolis

Posted on 30 January 2012 by Glenn Clark

I had handled it much better than I ever did in the past.

Unlike the last three seasons, I wasn’t on hand to see the Baltimore Ravens’ season come to an end last Sunday in the AFC Championship Game. Instead of making the trip to Foxborough, I stayed in studio at 1550 Hart Rd. in Towson for “The Nasty Purple Pregame Show” and “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show.” I watched the game only with my producer Ryan Chell and I IMMEDIATELY hit the airwaves after Billy Cundiff’s kick sailed wide-not allowing me much time to stew over the dramatic end.

After fighting with a caller who labeled quarterback Joe Flacco as “a bum” following the crushing loss to the New England Patriots, I genuinely felt as though I had moved on. It only took about 30 minutes. No eight hour drive home with other miserable Ravens fans for me, just a 25 minute drive home to Monkton where playing with my dog quickly made me feel better about a tough loss.

On Sunday afternoon the WNST crew (Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio, Luke Jones and myself) touched down in Indianapolis for week-long coverage of Super Bowl XLVI festivities at Radio Row. We do it every year, no matter when/where the Ravens’ season comes to a close. Immediately upon landing at Indianapolis International Airport, we were greeted by vendors selling Eli Manning and Tom Brady t-shirts. Everywhere we turned in Indy for the first 12 hours was remarkably similar.

New York Giants stuff here. New England Patriots stuff there. Live NFL Network video of Bill Belichick getting off the plane. Quotes filling up my GMail inbox from Tom Brady and Jerod Mayo as transcribed by the National Football League staff here on site. A replay of Super Bowl XLII following Australian Open coverage on ESPN2.

It all hit me like a ton of bricks. This was SO close to being the Ravens. Perhaps a Cundiff kick, perhaps a Lee Evans catch, perhaps a John Harbaugh timeout, perhaps Joe Flacco not throwing an interception to Brandon Spikes.

Perhaps.

We could have gotten off the plane in Indy and been greeted by Ray Lewis t-shirts instead of seeing Alex Flanagan try to get Lewis to change his mind about retirement on the sideline during NBC’s coverage of the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. We could have been covering the first media gathering of the week for the AFC champs instead of sitting in the hot tub at the J.W. Marriott or celebrating Forrester’s birthday at Buca di Beppo. (Both of these things were nice…but we’d rather not be there.)

It wasn’t as painful to arrive for Super Bowl coverage the last couple of years as there was really no argument that the Ravens may have been the best team in the AFC. Two years ago they were clobbered by the Colts here at LucasOil Stadium. Last year there was the feeling they let one go against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, but at least the loss didn’t come with a Super Bowl trip on the line.

This time there was a REAL feeling that we should be spending Media Day tomorrow chatting up Terrell Suggs instead of trying to track down Matt Birk for five minutes later in the week when he comes to promote the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

It wasn’t the only wound re-opened however.

As you can read about in Monday’s Indianapolis Star, there’s already a bit of a “friendly” back and forth going on between us and some of the folks in “The Friendly Heart of the Midwest.” While most of our comments have been made in jest, there is no doubt that seeing horseshoes everywhere I look and staring at a sign for the “Jim Irsay Collection” at the Indiana State Museum across the street have left a bad taste in my mouth.

The team my father fell in love with is now the reason why a city hundreds of miles from Charm City is experiencing a financial boon. The likes of Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore and Art Donovan left sweat and blood on the field at Memorial Stadium, the value of which has allowed governor Mitch Daniels to make millions of dollars-which will in no way benefit the city of Baltimore.

We don’t REALLY want the Colts back in Baltimore as I joked with the Indy Star reporter. We want an entire civic injustice reversed. We know it’s impossible.

The wounds are fully re-opened here. We’ll make it through (covering a Super Bowl in Indianapolis is STILL better than having to cover the Baltimore Orioles), but there will be a number of times this week where I’ll look over and say “damn.”

-G

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This past week has sucked, but Ravens will be great again in ’12

Posted on 29 January 2012 by Peter Dilutis

 

What an incredibly awful week!

I still cannot really believe what I witnessed in Foxborough a week ago today. Perhaps the most intense football game that I’ve witnessed in person throughout my relatively young life ended in extreme disappointment.

There was so much on the line for everyone.

The fans, who have now spent four consecutive years loading up on purple gear, spending big money on tickets, trips, hotels, etc in anticipation of another Super Bowl run.

The players, who I’ve gotten to know a bit over the past couple of years, who spend 365 days a year preparing for the final moments of a game like that.

The coaches, executives, team employees, trainers…this has sucked for everyone. There’s no way around it.

Personally, I’ve had so many thoughts over the past week but I’ve just had no desire to write about them. It is absolutely sickening that what we all wanted so badly was right in their grasp, literally, and we let it get away.

As bad as it was for all of us (imagine how much we at WNST had on the line regarding promotions, Super Bowl trips, etc), and as much time as some of us have needed to get over the loss, we cannot let the heartbreak that we all feel cloud our perspective.

Yes, it is incredibly hard for a team to get back to where the Ravens just were. There are no guarantees in sports. However, the Baltimore Ravens have built their organization up to where annual contention is not a goal but an expectation.

When Steve Bisciotti fired Brian Billick after the 2007 season, he talked about wanting to avoid the valleys that the team endured under Billick. Billick had tremendous success in Baltimore. He brought back a winning culture to Baltimore and that culture has carried over into this era of Ravens football.

However, there were some years under Billick, specifically 2005 and 2007, when the Ravens were basically out of contention by the second half of the season. Much of that had to do with not having a legitimate quarterback, but the bottom line is that under Billick, the Ravens, at times, underachieved.

That has not happened with John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco at the helm. The Baltimore Ravens have transformed into an elite franchise in the NFL. Period.

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Sizing up the Ravens’ 2012 free-agent class

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Sizing up the Ravens’ 2012 free-agent class

Posted on 26 January 2012 by Luke Jones

In the aftermath of the Ravens’ 23-20 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship on Sunday, the finality of the season coming to an abrupt end was accompanied by the all-too-familiar feeling knowing that same team will never be together again.

The reality of the NFL’s offseason brings substantial change to all 32 teams — some more than others — and forces players to say goodbye to others for the final time as teammates.

“It’s tough to really think about that,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “You know it’s going to happen, but you don’t know which guys it’s going to be, so it’s tough to be in our shoes and go through that. You finally just take it for what it is, and before you know it, you hope you had a good relationship with everybody on the team and said as much as you could say to that guy. We hope we can bring as many people back as we can.”

While other moves will be made — cornerbacks Domonique Foxworth and Chris Carr and wide receiver Lee Evans are the strongest candidates to be cut despite being under contract for the 2012 season — the Ravens have 13 unrestricted free agents, four restricted free agents, and four exclusive-rights free agents entering the offseason. I’ve included the entire list with a brief thought on each player’s potential future in Baltimore.

Two dates to keep in mind as the offseason begins are the March 5 deadline to designate a franchise player and the start of free agency on March 13 at 4:00 p.m.

Unrestricted free agents

RB Ray Rice
2011 stats: 16 starts, 2,068 yards from scrimmage, 15 touchdowns
Skinny: Rice isn’t going anywhere as the Ravens will either use their franchise tag on the Pro Bowl back or sign him to a long-term deal, though the latter would certainly create more cap space for 2012.

G Ben Grubbs
2011 stats: 10 starts, first Pro Bowl selection
Skinny: The Ravens clearly would like to bring the left guard back, but with Marshal Yanda receiving a sizable deal a few months ago, can the organization afford to invest so much money in the guard position?

C Matt Birk
2011 stats: 16 starts
Skinny: After 14 seasons in the league, Birk may decide to retire, but the Ravens could elect to go with the slightly-younger Andre Gurode or look to the draft for the center position.

LB Jarret Johnson
2011 stats: 16 starts, 56 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks
Skinny: With Johnson on the wrong side of 30, it might be time to part ways with the veteran linebacker, but the Ravens lack a logical replacement on the current roster with the disappointing development of 2010 second-round pick Sergio Kindle and the limitations of pass rusher Paul Kruger.

LB Jameel McClain
2011 stats: 16 starts, 81 tackles, one sack, one interception
Skinny: The former undrafted free agent credits Ray Lewis for his growth, so you have to wonder if McClain becomes the next Baltimore linebacker to receive an inflated contract elsewhere.

DE Cory Redding
2011 stats: 15 games (11 starts), 43 tackles, 4 1/2 sacks
Skinny: Before an ankle injury slowed Redding over the final month of 2011, he was having his best season in years, but the Ravens could elect to go with younger — and cheaper — defensive lineman Arthur Jones at this position.

LB Brendon Ayanbadejo
2011 stats: 16 games, 27 tackles, 1 1/2 sacks, nine special teams tackles
Skinny: The 35-year-old intends to play in 2012 and expects to be back with the Ravens, but the nickel linebacker may not be on the same page as Baltimore in terms of a contract to make his return feasible.

S Tom Zbikowski
2011 stats: 14 games (four starts), 16 tackles, one sack
Skinny: Largely a forgotten man after Bernard Pollard wrestled away the strong safety job early in the season, it appears Zbikowski will likely try to find a new home where he can start.

S Haruki Nakamura
2011 stats: 15 games, three tackles, nine special-teams tackles
Skinny: In a similar position to Zbikowski, the Ravens will likely make a harder push to keep Nakamura due to his exceptional ability as as special teams player.

OL Andre Gurode
2011 stats: 13 games (five starts)
Skinny: Signed as an insurance policy behind Matt Birk, the 10-year veteran wound up being needed at left guard for an injured Grubbs and could be the short-term replacement at center next season.

DT Brandon McKinney
2011 stats: 12 games, 14 tackles
Skinny: A regular part of the rotation along the defensive line, it’s hard to envision teams beating down McKinney’s door, but the Ravens may try to go younger and cheaper than the six-year veteran.

TE Kris Wilson
2011 stats: 15 games, four special teams tackles
Skinny: His touchdown catch in the divisional round was his claim to fame, but the veteran’s competent special teams ability may not be enough to keep him in Baltimore next season.

LB Edgar Jones
2011 stats: nine games, three special teams tackles
Skinny: Though he was active all nine games after being signed in early November, there’s a reason why Jones was unemployed when the Ravens were looking for special-teams depth.

Restricted free agents
(The Ravens can offer a tender attached to a draft pick and then have the right to match any offer from an opposing team and would receive that team’s draft pick if they choose not to match it.)

CB Lardarius Webb
2011 stats: 16 games (15 starts), 68 tackles, five interceptions, sack
Skinny: With another season like he had in 2011, Webb will be looking for a large payday and deservedly so.

CB Cary Williams
2011 stats: 16 starts, 77 tackles, two forced fumbles
Skinny: Easily the most pleasant surprise on the Baltimore defense, Williams will battle 2011 first-round pick Jimmy Smith for a starting corner job in training camp.

LB Dannell Ellerbe
2011 stats: nine games (three starts), 17 tackles
Skinny: The third-year linebacker always leaves you wanting more but could find himself in position to compete for a starting role depending on how the Ravens address the inside linebacker position this offseason.

RB Matt Lawrence
2011 stats: Did not play (injured reserve)
Skinny: Though a competent special-teams player when he’s been healthy in his three-year career, you have to think the Ravens are ready to cut ties with the injury-plagued back.

Exclusive-rights free agents
(These are players with two or fewer accrued seasons and own no negotiating rights.)

LS Morgan Cox
2011 stats: 16 games
Skinny: There’s no reason to think the Ravens are displeased with Cox’s performance as the long snapper.

CB Danny Gorrer
2011 stats: 11 games, three tackles, four pass breakups
Skinny: Considering he was pushing Chris Carr for the No. 4 corner spot by season’s end and was strong on special teams, Gorrer should have no reason to think the Ravens won’t bring him back.

LB Sergio Kindle
2011 stats: two games
Skinny: The Ravens will bring Kindle back, but he’ll need to make major strides in the offseason and training camp to make the 53-man roster again.

LB Albert McClellan
2011 stats: 16 games (one start), seven tackles, 12 special teams tackles
Skinny: He drew a start for the injured Ray Lewis on Thanksgiving night and is one of the best special teams players on the team, making his return a certainty.

 

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Ray Lewis gives us all some food for thought after loss in New England

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Ray Lewis gives us all some food for thought after loss in New England

Posted on 25 January 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

As much as the loss to the Patriots stung me and everyone else in the Baltimore purple tribe, believe it or not I left the stadium with some sort of inner peace that hasn’t allowed me to cry, bellyache or bemoan the efforts of this year’s team.

All of you know I’m in the locker room, asking questions, posting videos, texting and Tweeting and Facebooking all sorts of insights, observations, jokes and information from Baltimore Ravens’ games.

This was the last thing on my video reel after the game — before Drew Forrester and Luke Jones joined me on the field to recap the game and the missed Billy Cundiff field goal reenactment by our morning show host.

As Luke and I walked out of Gillette Stadium and through the purple confetti our final words were: “If Ray Lewis can find peace with this game 15 minutes after it’s over then maybe we should find a way as well.”

Watch this video. I think it might change your mood…it certainly changed ours!

 

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