Tag Archive | "newsome"

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Derrick Mason’s return to Ravens was never in doubt at WNST

Posted on 01 August 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

In what has not been a surprise to us – if you go back to Monday July 13th’s blog vault you’ll see we can confirm this — Derrick Mason will in fact play for the Ravens this season, ending his temporary “retirement” from the Ravens and the NFL.

Three weeks ago, it took us about 45 minutes after Mason announced his “retirement” via his agent’s sports website, to begin predicting that Mason would play in 2009 but somehow it’s a major “news” story today. This was in no way a huge upset/surprise/shocker for anyone using common sense and their “sniffer” for facts.

The amount of money at stake, Mason’s lack of true leverage (he would’ve had to refund money to the Ravens if he didn’t play) and the fact that he attended virtually every camp in the offseason and is in world-class shape all were clues that we would be seeing Mason in a purple sweater on Sept. 13 when the Kansas City Chiefs come to town.

So, while others may take the credit for “breaking” the story today we’ve felt all along that it would be a major upset if Mason didn’t play in 2009.

Just this morning I told a friend that if it were a horse race I’d pay no more than 2-to-5 — or .40 cents — if he winds up playing. Even a bet that bad would’ve been a lousy one!

I’ve been told Mason has had some personal issues he’s had to resolve this summer, even above and beyond his situation with the tragedy of Steve McNair and his own contract-extension wishes.

In the end, this was a bit of a stare down — albeit with complications — about money and reward and desire.

No one sensible really ever expected that Mason wouldn’t play.

It’ll be good to have No. 85 back in the fold.

Here’s what baltimoreravens.com is reporting:

“Mason came to the team’s training camp hotel in Westminster, Md., to meet with general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh.

He also called Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti earlier today to inform him of his decision.

Mason is sending a letter to the NFL stating his intentions.

He will take a physical either later this afternoon or early tomorrow morning.

The Ravens anticipate that Mason will be on the field sometime Sunday, although like all Ravens, he will have to pass a running test.”

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Ravens sign Michael Oher to a five-year contract

Posted on 29 July 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

The waiting is over! Michael Oher will be in camp tomorrow and will meet with the media. In the end, he missed four workouts. He’ll be on the field Friday morning when the veterans all report for the first time.

These eleventh hour signings are all-too-common but are a bit of a necessary evil. There’s a lot of money at stake. It’s a real fistfight on the negotiating side and I never pick sides on these and the Ravens do their best to not get the media or anyone else involved.

Of course, agent Jimmy Sexton will be bandying the numbers at some point later tonight and we’ll report the signing bonus and salary. That’s just the way it works.

In the end, it always gets done. It will all around the league for the other 26 first-round “holdout” draft picks as well. Every hour over the next few days you’ll be hearing of more signings.

From Mike Duffy at the Ravens website:

“At approximately 9 p.m. tonight, Michael Oher and his agent, Jimmy Sexton, agreed to a five-year contract with the Ravens.

The Ravens are one of the first teams to have all of their draft picks signed this season.

Oher, who is currently in Memphis, plans to attend tomorrow afternoon’s administrative day, which includes weight lifting, meetings, and a session on the field. He is then expected to meet with the media late tomorrow afternoon.

The Ravens were optimistic that Oher would not hold out for long after missing four practices reserved for rookies, quarterbacks and selected veterans.

“We knew Michael wanted to be here,” stated head coach John Harbaugh. “He said that many times. Ozzie [Newsome] wanted him to be here, and his agent wanted him to be here too. The agent wanted to make sure he did the right thing by Michael, and we wanted that.

“A big congratulations to Pat (Moriarty, Ravens vice president of football operations) and Ozzie for working hard to get this done. I think we might be the first team to have all of our draft choices signed.”

Oher is slated to start at right tackle opposite left tackle Jared Gaither, forming the youngest group of offensive tackles in the NFL.”

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Who will the Ravens pick this weekend? Some clues here…

Posted on 24 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

You gotta love the NFL. The league hasn’t snapped the football in almost three months and the buzz is as strong for the draft as it is for Week 7 of the regular season. It never ends this love of American football. So much enthusiasm and energy and talk about the 26th pick on Saturday for the Ravens.

Amidst that, there are all sorts of stories and storylines:

What will happen with Anquan Boldin and are the Ravens really involved?

My gut AND my sources tell me that it’s not very likely. The notion that Ozzie Newsome would trade a No. 1 and a No. 3 and then have to back up a brink’s truck for Boldin is highly unlikely. Plus, the cap issues of taking on another superstar making a super premium salary seem daunting. If the Ravens had that kind of money, they should’ve kept Bart Scott, right?

Who are the players the Ravens really like and would select at No. 26?

It’s always a crapshoot on draft day when you pick so low. The Ravens were greatly affected by the Atlanta trade for Tony Gonzales yesterday because it’s clear that the Falcons won’t be taking tight end Brandon Pettigrew with pick No. 24. Every name that comes off the board in the first 25 spots – and every trade up or back, and we expect a few – will affect what’s left when the 26th pick hits the clock.

So, when people ask me today and all day tomorrow, “Who will the Ravens pick?” I tell them the same thing every year: “Even Ozzie Newsome has no idea who they’ll wind up getting with a pick so low.”

That said, I’ll take a low pick on draft day every year into perpetuity. The joy of a single-digit pick is far outweighed by the agony of dealing with 16 weeks of bad football during a 6-10 season. Let Cincinnati and Cleveland pick early every year from now until the end of time.

All of these weeks and months of mock drafts are just that: a mockery. One unexpected trade on draft day – and with lunatics like Al Davis, Mike Brown and Daniel Snyder running drafts there’s always somebody doing something – not to mention other legitimate trades for more picks or value, it’s more impossible to predict a mock draft correctly than filling out a perfect March Madness pool. I think you’d have a better chance of hitting the lotto tonight for $150 million.

And once one team or one player goes awry, the whole draft changes. Everyone tries to handicap it but it’s a futile effort.

But this much I know: The Ravens would LOVE to trade a few times over the weekend, which is all the more reason to be on our text service. They only have six picks. They’d rather have seven or eight.

Here are some names of guys — and some key positions of need for the Ravens — that you should keep an eye on over the weekend as the names come off the board:

Center – Alex Mack, California. The Ravens brought him into town and checked him out thoroughly. He’s a tough, smart “Raven” kinda guy. If they trade out of No. 26 to move backward (and I still think this is VERY likely because they really want more picks), Mack would be a early 2nd rounder that will help the team. The only question is whether he can help the team at guard because the team already has a two-year solution at center in Matt Birk.

Tight end – A “dream” scenario for the team would be if Brandon Pettigrew fell to them at No. 26. The Philadelphia Eagles at No. 21 would be the one team to tie them up but that’s looking less likely. Again, the Falcons deal yesterday to acquire Gonzales helps the Ravens if they indeed covet Pettigrew, who is a beast at 6-6 and could help the pass protection and provide a safety valve for Joe Flacco.

Wide receiver – While the whole universe seems to think the Ravens are desperate for a wide out, I’m not convinced they’ll take one in the first round. Perhaps they’d select Kenny Britt of Rutgers if he’s still on the board but I don’t think Hakeem Nicks will be their choice. I’ve been saying for two months that WR is not the team’s most acute need nor should they burn a first-round pick on the riskiest of all positions on draft day.

Defensive back – Vontae Davis and Darius Butler. You can never have too many cornerbacks. They’re like pitchers in baseball. If you don’t get one in the first round you’re probably not getting one you feel comfortable in calling a starter. It’s the toughest role this side of QB to fill in the NFL. Davis comes with some immaturity and a little bit of baggage, but he’s the closest thing to a poor man’s Chris McAlister in this draft.

Defensive line/LB – Rey Maualuga. He’s probably the only player in the No. 26 range that the Ravens would consider and this isn’t their greatest need. If they were to take a LB here it would tell you a lot about how highly rated this player would have to be on their overall board. Honestly, all of the USC linebackers look attractive and will almost certainly be gone by the time the Ravens get on the clock in the second round with pick No. 55.

Here’s my hope: Brandon Pettigrew

Here’s my “prediction”: Rey Maualuga

The real story of the Ravens’ drafts and their relative success since 1996 has been tied to what happens AFTER the first round. Between Newsome, Eric DeCosta and Phil Savage and their staffs, over the years the Ravens have become the best team in the league on the last weekend of April. It’s how Newsome and this department has survived so long in one place. It’s an absolute anomaly.

Think about it: What were the odds that in 1996 when Ozzie Newsome passed on Lawrence Phillips and selected Jon Ogden and then went on to take Ray Lewis instead of Leland McElroy at the No. 26 pick that he’d STILL be here in April 2009 making decisions for Baltimore’s football team?

Newsome is still here because he’s really, really great at evaluating talent. He’s got a gift. He’s not always right but he’s been right more than virtually anyone on the planet at doing this.

And most experts say this draft is NOT deep for starting talent beginning Sunday morning. For whatever reason, most scouts aren’t feeling great about finding the next Adalius Thomas or Jason Brown late in the day on Sunday.

It’s a great weekend to be a football fan. It’s a great weekend to be a draftnik. Or just a nerd, like me.

I’ll be bellied up to the bar at Padonia Station at 3 p.m. drinking $2 Michelob Ultras and watching the draft and sending texts to everyone on the text service.

We’re having a “Textathon” weekend because this is the one weekend when we know we’ll be sending you a lot of stuff.

We hope if you’re not on the service you consider joining. And, if you are, we hope you’ll forward our texts to your PSL, purple-loving friends so they know the news and know about WNST.net and our cool text service.

Thanks!

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If you want to know how the Ravens draft…

Posted on 23 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I’ve been fortunate over the years to be able to ask both Phil Savage and Eric Decosta a trillion questions about scouting, film study, the combine and the draft “process” that Ozzie Newsome so proud discusses, but this video — and it’s only 3 minutes long – was pretty good. I just wanted to share it with you.

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To Draft or Not To Draft

Posted on 17 April 2009 by Nicholas Miskelly

To Draft or Not To Draft 

As draft day approaches I have begun to think in greater depth about what the Ravens should do with their first pick. The Ravens have traditionally been one of the best teams in the NFL when it comes to drafting and evaluating talent.  The great Ozzie Newsome always puts this team in the best possible position to draft value with a pick and never based on need.  He has done it again this year. 

After the season was over the Ravens had a lot of decisions to make.  They had to decide who to re-sign, who to let go, and for those who left, how would they be replaced?  We saw the likes of Bart Scott, Chris McAlister, Jason Brown, and Jim Leonhard all leave via free agency.  But after that we saw Ozzie reload as only Ozzie can.  He brought in Matt Birk at center, Foxworth at corner, and L.J Smith at tight end to sure up potential weaknesses or thin areas for the Ravens.  He also resigned Samari Rolle and signed Chris Carr to the team to make sure there was great depth in the secondary and coverage on the special teams unit.  Heading into the draft this team is complete and does not have any glaring need that must be addressed early in this draft.  Furthermore this team has a wealth of young talent that they did not have room for last year with the likes of Prescott Burgess and Tavares Gooden.  This team is in as comfortable of a position as any team heading into the draft.  This is why they must consider adding Boldin to the team.  He may very well be the one missing piece. 

While the Ravens do not typically like to trade their top pick or a bulk of their picks in a draft, this year might be the year to do so.  I know the Ravens have only six picks this year but if you give up your first and your third round picks you will be gaining more value in Boldin than you would be giving away with what could come in with those two picks.  Wide receiver is the hardest position to fill in the draft and more times then not the pick results in a bust.  The game is so much more physical at the NFL level it is just impossible to project how well receivers will do and which ones will be a bust.  Boldin is a perfect example.  He was a second round draft pick because teams could not project how well he would do.  This year looks to be a crap shoot again as teams try to guess which wide-out is worth taking.  The Ravens are one of those teams and by trading for Boldin it would eliminate all of the guesswork. 

Look at this way:  Who might the Ravens draft with the 26th overall pick?  Most projections I have seen have the Ravens looking at a corner or, you guessed it, a wide receiver.  Thanks to Ozzie’s great offseason the Ravens have added depth and talent to their secondary.  A corner pick here is no longer a must but rather more like a luxury.  A wide receiver for this team makes the most sense, so why not get the best? This years best available is not Percy Harvin, Hakeem Nicks(I think is the best in the draft), Kenny Britt, or even Darrius Heyward-Bey.  That is right, the best wide-out available this year is Boldin.  The Ravens fans want him.  The Ravens need him.

Boldin is young, only 28, and can help this team for another 5 years.  He will come in and have an immediate impact on this offense, especially on Joe Flacco.  The other benefit of getting Boldin is that you would not have to wait for him to develop.  He is ready to go on day one.  Let’s face it the Ravens are not getting any younger on defense and guys like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed do not have the years left to wait for a rookie to develop.  Flacco is also emerging into a star and we do not need to hold him back while waiting for the rookie WR to develop.

Traditionally the Ravens have not been afraid to pull the trigger to trade up in the draft to get guys they felt were important to this team and may not be available when it is their turn to draft, ala Joe Flacco.  So why not pull the trigger this year.  Just because Boldin is not in the draft does not mean we should write off the idea of dealing our picks.   

Give up the picks and bring Baltimore a star thus narrowing the gap between the Super Bowl champions and the Baltimore Ravens!!! 

 

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Ravens play “Truth or Dare” with media today regarding NFL Draft

Posted on 01 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

The Ravens call it the “Pre-Draft Media Luncheon.” I have routinely referred to it as “The Liars Luncheon.” Just after noon today, Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh, Joe Hortiz and Eric DeCosta will take questions and give a massive overview of the 2009 NFL Draft. It’s always a relaxed, interesting take on a variety of players and a cool assessment of the team’s needs for the last weekend of April.

We’ll be chronicling the luncheon from Owings Mills and I’ll be blogging around 1 p.m. when it begins and I’ll have a full report on “Limited Access” at 2 p.m. on AM 1570 and here at WNST.net

I’m sure the first question will have something to do with Darius Heyward-Bey.

If you have any questions for the staff, drop a comment here and I’ll do my best to ask the brain trust.

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Torry Holt released by Rams: Are Ravens interested?

Posted on 13 March 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

We’ve been waiting several weeks and with all of the talk of Torry Holt’s imminent departure from the St. Louis Rams, it’s now a reality. Holt was released this afternoon and the Ravens now have the opportunity to pounce if they are indeed interested.

We’ll see what happens over the weekend with Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens’ glaring need at the wide receiver position.

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Stover says he’s gone…so who gets the job?

Posted on 05 March 2009 by Drew Forrester

With Matt Stover telling the world tonight that the Ravens have given him the boot (OK, sorry, just to had get that in there), the biggest question now is…

Is it a mistake to let Stover go?

My answer:  I have no idea if it’s a good move until I see who they bring in to replace him.

A slew of free-agent kickers are available.  Some are of decent quality, some are not. 

I wrote about the kicking issue five days ago at WNST.net…you can check out the stats of a couple who are still free agents.

Two names in that blog are no longer available.  Mike Nugent signed with Tampa Bay on Wednesday and Jay Feely re-signed with the New York Jets on Thursday.  With Nugent moving to Tampa Bay, it would appear Matt Bryant is out of job.  Here are his numbers.

Matt Stover hinted on Thursday that the Jets were a possible destination for him now that the Ravens have sent him on his way.  I assume that was BEFORE the Jets brought Feely back into the fold.  With Feely returning, Stover doesn’t have an option to join Rex Ryan at the Meadowlands.

Stover can still kick – successfully – in the NFL.  If Hall of Fame voters took kicking seriously, as they should, #3 would be in Canton someday.  He’s been that good.

I talked to a Ravens official yesterday and he said the team’s biggest concern with Stover has more to do with the team’s need for two kickers than a general concern about Matt’s actual place-kicking production.  

“The coaching staff would have to battle every game to decide whether to put (Steve) Hauschka on the game-day roster or another special teams guy,” said the staffer.  ”You would rather not deal with that issue in a perfect world.  Dressing two kickers is a luxury and those roster spots are precious on game-day.”

The Ravens perfect world no longer includes Matt Stover.

So, back to the original question we go.

Who’s the new kicker?

Shaun Suisham?  Not as consistent as Stover.  

John Carney?  He (44) is OLDER than Stover (41). 

Martin Gramatica?  He’s only attempted 24 kicks in the last 4 years.  Injury prone.

Or, do the Ravens just hand the job over to Hauschka and say, “Keep making kicks, kid, and you’ll have a job here.”   That’s a fairly risky proposition, particularly when one game, one win or one missed 44 yarder can cost you a trip to the post-season.  Sure, you have to give a young player his trial at some point, but field goal kicking is some high-wire stuff.  Better be able to handle the pressure.

Kicking being what it is, it’s easy to determine if a guy is a “good replacement” or a bad one.

Does he make kicks?  Does he win a game from 42-yards out with 4 seconds to play?  Does he kick the ball deep enough on kick-offs and help your team with field position?

If he does, he’s employable.

If he doesn’t, he’s not.

Stover was always reliable and that’s why he spent 17 years in the league.  

Let’s hope the next guy is reliable too.

If he isn’t, it was a bad move to boot Matt Stover right now.

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Ray Lewis signs – Ravens do the RIGHT thing, again…

Posted on 04 March 2009 by Drew Forrester

The saga has ended.

I actually felt a twinge of sadness when I heard the news that Ray Lewis had verbally agreed to a new contract. 

Honestly.

Now, we have to turn our full attention to Orioles baseball…unless Maryland pulls a rabbit out of their hat and slips into the NCAA tournament…then we can put off full-fledged O’s-care until almost opening day.

Actually, word is Derrick Mason isn’t happy with HIS contract now.  It’s unconfirmed, of course, but if Mason is, in fact, unhappy, that might get us through a week or two as well.

Back to the subject at hand: The Pay-Ray-Tour has come to an end and, come to find out, the plane never left Baltimore.

Ray’s jumping up and down today, thrilled beyond words to be finishing here in Baltimore with “HIS” great fans.  

I guess $15 million in your hand will do that. 

It would for just about anyone, I suppose.

There’s so much ground to cover that the initial “Ray has signed” review-blog doesn’t need to touch on all the things we’ve learned over the last month or so.

I’m not even going to delve into the negatives or cast a critical eye at anyone tonight.

I’ll just give credit where credit is due.

And, as usual (hopefully, the baseball team is paying attention), the Ravens have done the right thing.

Get the spotlight out, plug it in, and shine it on Owings Mills.

The Ravens have delivered in the clutch, once again.

Ray Lewis is back…the Ravens provided him with the reward he richly deserves…and when 52 comes hopping out of the north tunnel next September, you’ll be able to hear the roar in Middle River.

We’ll cover the Dallas comments, the “I’ll retire before I’ll go back there to Baltimore” rumors and the God-speak tomorrow, perhaps.  We have plenty of time for Ray.

Tonight, raise your glass to the Ravens.

They added a Hall of Very Good center today in Matt Birk.

And they “re-added” a Hall of Fame linebacker today named Ray Lewis.

You probably heard of him before. 

He’s the reason most of you have been going to the games since 1996.

Today, the Ravens rewarded him for that.

Oh, he can play a little football too.  That’s why he got $15 million, ultimately.

But, in the end, some of that money is payment for the “sweat equity” Lewis has invested in the franchise. 

I’m having a glass of 2004 Glenn Beck Cabernet tonight to commemorate the Ravens “doing the right thing.”

Cheers, Ozzie…Steve…John…Eric…Pat.

Well done.

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Ray Lewis and Matt Birk both in the Ravens’ fold

Posted on 04 March 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

In the span of 20 minutes, we got two well-sourced confirmations that both of Ozzie Newsome’s shopping sprees today have come full circle. Both Matt Birk and Ray Lewis have agreed to terms with the Ravens in the 4 p.m. hour today. Word is that both Lewis and Birk received a 3-year deals. Lewis was reported at $22 million and Birk at $9 million, with $6 guaranteed. WNST will continue to talk about these huge signings all of Thursday on AM 1570 and comments here are welcomed.

I will also be hosting my annual “Pop’s Birthday Celebration” with four hours of tributes to dads everywhere.

For Immediate Release

RAVENS AGREE TO TERMS WITH LEWIS, BIRK

The Baltimore Ravens reached agreements in principle with two Pro Bowl players Wednesday afternoon.

LB Ray Lewis will remain a Raven.

“We have agreed in principle on a multi-year contract that will allow Ray to finish his career as a Baltimore Raven,” general manager/executive vice president Ozzie Newsome announced.

“From beginning to end as a Raven… Wow! To be with the same team with the same fans for an entire career, that doesn’t happen in the NFL,” Lewis said. “The bottom line for me is that God always finishes first, and I prayed over this. Over the last six days, I took a backseat and waited to see what would happen. This is part of God’s plan, and I couldn’t be happier. For me to be here in an area that has become so important to me and my family, that’s special, very special.

“I don’t think an athlete can have a greater legacy than to be able to stay in one place for an entire career. I feel so fortunate that the Ravens did what they had to do to make this happen. Thank you. My heart is with the Ravens. My heart is with Baltimore and the great fans. What can I say? Here we go!”

(Note: Lewis’ contract will not be official until he signs, which will take place sometime in the next two weeks. At that time, the Ravens will hold a press conference with Lewis. Please understand that travel schedules for owner Steve Bisciotti, Newsome, head coach John Harbaugh and Lewis are causing this delay.)

Also agreeing to a contract this afternoon is six-time Pro Bowl C Matt Birk. Birk, who has played all 11 of his NFL seasons with Minnesota, will meet with the media Thursday morning (3/5) at the Ravens’ Owings Mills training facility at 11 a.m.

“What a great day for the Ravens,” Harbaugh stated. “To get the commitment from Ray means so much to the team, to the franchise and to our fans.”

Continued Harbaugh: “To add a player like Matt, who will also give us outstanding leadership, makes us a better team. We’re not standing pat. We’re moving forward and getting better.”

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