Tag Archive | "NFL"

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Ravens decline to pick up fifth-year option on receiver Perriman

Posted on 02 May 2018 by Luke Jones

Wide receiver Breshad Perriman’s future was in doubt long before the Ravens declined to pick up their fifth-year option on the former first-round pick this week.

According to NFL Network, Baltimore will not exercise its option on Perriman, which would have paid him $9.387 million for the 2019 season. That decision was hardly a shock with the 2015 first-round pick coming off an abysmal season in which he caught only 10 passes for 77 yards on 34 targets. Pro Football Focus graded the 24-year-old last among 116 qualified wide receivers in 2017.

What remains to be seen is whether Perriman will even make the team this fall after being a healthy scratch in four of the final seven games of 2017. General manager Ozzie Newsome has revamped the wide receiver group this offseason by signing veterans Michael Crabtree, John Brown, and Willie Snead and taking two wide receivers — Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley — on the final day of last week’s draft. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Perriman is owed a $649,485 bonus on the third day of training camp, which could prompt an early-summer departure if he doesn’t show dramatic improvement this spring.

The Ravens can save $1.622 million in salary cap space by cutting Perriman.

Injuries have played a substantial part in his disappointing career as he missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury, was sidelined for most of the 2016 preseason with another knee injury, and missed substantial time with a hamstring injury last summer. However, his on-field regression in 2017 was alarming after he had at least been a functional contributor in 2016 with 33 catches for 499 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games.

Perriman is the only wide receiver to be drafted by the Ravens on Day 1 or Day 2 in their last seven drafts, a big reason why the organization has found itself in poor shape at the position on a near-annual basis.

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International player added to Ravens roster for 2018

Posted on 01 May 2018 by Luke Jones

The Ravens will have the option of an extra player on their practice squad this season as German fullback Chris Ezeala was awarded to them as part of the International Player Pathway program.

The initiative began last year and is designed to give a small group of international players the opportunity to compete at the NFL level. Ezeala will be on the preseason roster with Baltimore then having the option to place him on the practice squad during the regular season if he doesn’t make the 53-man roster. As a special exemption for the normal 10-man developmental squad, he would be ineligible to be activated during the season.

Ezeala, 22, played fullback and linebacker in the German Football League for the Ingolstadt Dukes and began playing the sport for the Munich Rangers and Allgäu Comets. He and seven other international players have been training alongside other NFL players and draft hopefuls in Florida for the past three months, working with a group of coaches that included former Ravens running back Earnest Byner and former Ravens defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson

“My coaches told me that while there are many linebackers like me in the NFL, there is no fullback that is so athletic and fast,” Ezeala said in a press release. “They are trying to create a new type of player with me.”

Ezeala has typical fullback size at 5-foot-11 and 243 pounds, but his 40-yard dash time really stands out as he completed the run in 4.54 seconds, according to the Ravens official website.

In other Tuesday roster news, the Ravens claimed former Cleveland defensive back Kai Nacua off waivers. The 2017 rookie free agent from Brigham Young appeared in all 16 games for the Browns as a rookie, making three starts and collecting 14 tackles.

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What to expect from Ravens’ 2018 draft picks

Posted on 29 April 2018 by Luke Jones

The picks are in for the 2018 draft, so what can we now expect from the Ravens’ 12 selections?

Below is the early look at how each rookie fits:

TE Hayden Hurst
Drafted: First round (25th overall) from South Carolina
2018 projected role: Tight ends generally struggle in their rookie season, but the 24-year-old will have every chance to become the primary guy with Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams better suited as blockers.
Long-term view: His 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame and good hands offer hope that he can become Baltimore’s best all-around tight end since Todd Heap with the ability to move around formations. He will be critical in helping Joe Flacco now and aiding in Lamar Jackson’s development for the future.

QB Lamar Jackson
Drafted: First round (32nd overall) from Louisville
2018 projected role: The quarterback of the future will need time to develop as a backup, but the Ravens would be wise to pick their spots to utilize his athleticism and expose him to some game action.
Long-term view: Jackson’s throwing mechanics and ability to function with pressure in an NFL pocket are significant questions, but his tools make him an intriguing talent the Ravens have never had at the position. The hope is he ushers in a new era for the organization, but there is much work to be done.

OT Orlando Brown Jr.
Drafted: Third round (83rd overall) from Oklahoma
2018 projected role: The son of former Ravens right tackle Orlando Brown will compete with veteran James Hurst for the starting right tackle job.
Long-term view: A historically-poor combine performance didn’t wipe out how the organization felt about his strong game tape, but questions about his weight, strength, and foot speed cannot be dismissed. You love the pedigree, but Brown has much to prove to reward the Ravens’ faith in him.

TE Mark Andrews
Drafted: Third round (86th overall) from Oklahoma
2018 projected role: The 6-foot-5 target will compete for situational snaps in the passing game as a big slot option and should have a real chance to make an impact inside the red zone.
Long-term view: Andrews is a wide receiver trapped in a tight end’s body and is not considered much of a blocker, meaning he’ll need to make substantial contributions in the pass game. In a perfect world, he slides into the old Dennis Pitta role, which was a big part of the Ravens’ success in the past.

CB Anthony Averett
Drafted: Fourth round (118th overall) from Alabama
2018 projected role: The 5-foot-11, 183-pound defensive back has a slew of names ahead of him on the depth chart, meaning he’ll need to be a good special-teams player to see the field as a rookie.
Long-term view: Being a two-year starter for the Crimson Tide speaks for itself, but Averett lacks the physicality of Marlon Humphrey and has more to prove. Eventually becoming a No. 2 starting cornerback isn’t out of the question, but Averett can provide valuable depth at the very least.

LB Kenny Young
Drafted: Fourth round (122nd overall) from UCLA
2018 projected role: Young has the athleticism to compete with Patrick Onwuasor for the weak-side inside linebacker spot next to C.J. Mosley, a position that wasn’t stellar for the Ravens last season.
Long-term view: A full-time starter for three seasons with the Bruins, Young has coverage skills that could add a dimension the Baltimore defense sorely needs. He should contribute on special teams immediately with the chance to eventually move into a starting role.

WR Jaleel Scott
Drafted: Fourth round (132nd overall) from New Mexico State
2018 projected role: The 6-foot-5 receiver will compete for situational snaps and could get looks as a contributor inside the red zone if he shows enough during the spring and summer.
Long-term view: You love the size and Scott made some acrobatic catches last year, but he lacks speed and is the kind of raw prospect the Ravens have rarely had success developing into anything of consequence. Baltimore has lacked a jump-ball threat for years, so Scott has a chance to be just that.

WR Jordan Lasley
Drafted: Fifth round (162nd overall) from UCLA
2018 projected role: Lasley will compete for a roster spot and will need to play special teams, but he showed the big-play ability in college to potentially earn some chances at the receiver position.
Long-term view: Off-field issues and bad hands led to Lasley’s slide down the draft board, but he averaged 18.3 yards per catch and accumulated 1,264 yards and nine touchdowns in nine games last season. He’s the proverbial boom-or-bust prospect, making him a decent gamble in the fifth round.

S DeShon Elliott
Drafted: Sixth round (190th overall) from Texas
2018 projected role: Much like Chuck Clark a year ago, the first-team All-American safety will need to shine on special teams to secure a roster spot in a deep secondary.
Long-term view: Opinions are mixed, but many seem to view Elliott as more of a box safety needing to play closer to the line of scrimmage to succeed. He’ll have a difficult time carving out a defensive role early, but he has the potential to eventually develop into a hybrid option.

OT Greg Senat
Drafted: Sixth round (212th overall) from Wagner
2018 projected role: The former college basketball player has good length and will compete for a roster spot or an opportunity on the practice squad.
Long-term view: Senat needs to get stronger and unsurprisingly needs to improve his blocking technique, but this is the kind of prospect that makes perfect sense late in the sixth round. At the very least, offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris has a good athlete with which to work.

C Bradley Bozeman
Drafted: Sixth round (215th overall) from Alabama
2018 projected role: The 6-foot-5, 315-pound lineman will compete for a roster spot or a place on the practice squad at a position lacking a long-term answer.
Long-term view: You like the pedigree of someone who made 31 career starts for the Crimson Tide, but Bozeman’s lack of athleticism and strength explain him lasting until the sixth round. His instincts and success in the SEC make him a decent developmental option with limited upside.

DE Zach Sieler
Drafted: Seventh round (238th overall) from Ferris State
2018 projected role: The Division II All-American selection will compete for a roster spot or a place on the practice squad with the defensive line being so deep.
Long-term view: Ozzie Newsome taking a defensive lineman from a small school as his final draft choice is fitting, but Sieler’s 6-foot-6, 290-pound frame fits the mold of an NFL 5-technique lineman. With Brent Urban and Carl Davis not signed beyond 2018, Sieler is at least worth keeping an eye on.

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Final chapter of Newsome’s Ravens draft legacy yet to be defined

Posted on 29 April 2018 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Emotions ran high as the Ravens concluded the final draft of Ozzie Newsome’s impeccable run as general manager.

Successor Eric DeCosta choked up as he spoke about his mentor, describing how owner Steve Bisciotti switched their chairs in the draft room to signify the changing of the guard.

John Harbaugh shared his belief that this was the franchise’s best draft in his 11 seasons as head coach. Others have wasted no time heaping praise upon Baltimore’s work.

Of course, Newsome himself brought the appropriate context in judging his 23rd and final draft.

“We did address a lot of areas, but ask me two years from now,” Newsome said. “Because now we have to get them in, we have to work with them, we have to develop them. Then, two years from now, we’ll be able to determine what job we did this weekend.”

The Ravens surely checked boxes by drafting tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews as well as offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr., the most heartwarming pick of the weekend. On the final day, they attempted to address other needs by taking inside linebacker Kenny Young as well as wide receivers Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley to develop for the future.

But make no mistake, the fate of the 2018 draft will ultimately be defined by Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. That’s just reality when you take a quarterback in the first round, regardless of what Newsome might have given up in the trade or how the Ravens were able to secure a fifth-year option with shrewd maneuvering.

Just ask Super Bowl XXXV champion coach Brian Billick about the 2003 draft. The first round may have featured potential Hall of Fame linebacker Terrell Suggs, but quarterback bust Kyle Boller ultimately cost Billick his job four years later.

The Jackson pick isn’t a flier or a low risk as those attempting to soft-pedal the likely ousting of Joe Flacco have suggested. If he doesn’t become the franchise quarterback, the ramifications are substantial, ranging from a missed opportunity to really strengthen the roster to high-profile jobs potentially being lost.

Squandering a first-round pick is significant even when it isn’t a quarterback. Consider the many resources the Ravens have exhausted at the safety position since drafting Matt Elam five years ago. Baltimore is still dealing with the fallout of Breshad Perriman failing to develop into a functional wide receiver three years after being drafted.

Jackson’s selection following his electrifying career at Louisville has reinvigorated much of a disgruntled fan base over the last few days, but recent history suggests the odds are against him panning out. Of the 17 quarterbacks drafted 15th through 45th overall from 2007-16 — a range chosen to satisfy varying opinions of his value — only seven spent more than one full season as a starter and one of those was Geno Smith. Just three — Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton, Oakland’s Derek Carr, and Flacco — are present-day starting quarterbacks with the others either surviving as backups or out of the league entirely.

Those odds are why those now being labeled by some as Flacco apologists balked at using such valuable draft capital on his replacement rather than at another position with a higher success rate to try to help the 33-year-old who led the franchise to a championship five years ago.

Where will the Ravens be in two years?

If the talented Jackson is on his way to becoming a franchise quarterback and helping his team to the playoffs, even detractors of Thursday’s pick will need to give Newsome his due. If he isn’t, there’s no telling what the fallout could be for a team with just one playoff appearance since Super Bowl XLVII.

Of course, this is where the rest of the draft class also comes into play as any quarterback is impacted dramatically by his environment.

Is at least one of the combination of Hurst and Andrews serving as the impact tight end the Ravens have lacked since the early days of Dennis Pitta and Todd Heap before that?

Will Scott or Lasley break the mold of so many failed Day 3 wide receivers to help improve the position’s long-term outlook? That will be a critical need for the young quarterback.

Does an eventual starter and a solid backup or two emerge from the group of Brown, Young, cornerback Anthony Averett, and a quartet of sixth- and seventh-rounders?

Only the answers to these questions will determine whether the current praise for Newsome’s swansong draft is warranted.

It’s understandable for so many to want to pay tribute to the general manager after all he’s accomplished. No one can take away a body of work that includes two Super Bowl championships, 10 playoff appearances in a 15-year period, two homegrown Hall of Famers (with at least one or two more to come), and 18 homegrown Pro Bowl players. Newsome is more than deserving of being a Hall of Fame executive after being a Hall of Fame tight end.

But let’s follow his own advice and pump the brakes on declaring this draft to be his final masterpiece.

That will be determined by whether the master plan to replace Flacco with Jackson succeeds.

Remember many Ravens fans were once miffed that Jonathan Ogden was chosen over Lawrence Phillips while others initially celebrated the likes of Boller, Elam, and Perriman in past first rounds.

We’ll know the truth in two years.

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Ravens address defense early in Day 3 of NFL draft

Posted on 28 April 2018 by WNST Staff

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Flacco-to-Jackson transition will prove challenging for Ravens

Posted on 27 April 2018 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens took their quarterback of the future Thursday night.

General manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh clearly stated Joe Flacco will remain their starter, but for how long? You don’t just trade back into the first round — surrendering a 2019 second-round pick in the process — and take Louisville’s Lamar Jackson to merely be a flier and long-term backup to light a fire under Flacco. Those picks are valuable commodities, especially for a team that’s made the playoffs just once in the last five years.

Drafting Jackson so early was a clear message that the Ravens have lost faith in their longtime starter.

It’s no secret that Flacco’s contract remains untouchable until next season while the consensus opinion is that the talented Jackson won’t be ready to play in the NFL right away. The Ravens would still be dealing with $16 million in dead money on their salary cap should they cut or trade Flacco next year, making it conceivable that he stays put for 2019 if he plays well this season or Jackson develops more slowly than they hope.

But how do the Ravens calibrate the present with Flacco while preparing for their future with Jackson?

Newsome said they want to win this year, but one of the major criticisms of the organization has been its inability to surround Flacco with more talent, something that wasn’t helped by drafting someone who will be standing on the sideline this season. Harbaugh cited New England as a recent example of a team contending while drafting a young quarterback early — Jimmy Garoppolo at the end of the second round in 2014 — but Flacco isn’t Tom Brady and the Patriots already had a championship-caliber roster in place. The Ravens really aren’t in a position to be using an early pick on a backup quarterback if they’re so determined to get back to the playoffs this season.

Beyond the question of whether Baltimore will adequately address its remaining needs, how do you go about developing Jackson appropriately? The idea of a first-round quarterback not playing right away was once commonplace, but that strategy is rarely executed successfully in today’s NFL for a variety of reasons, one of them being the overall shortage of practice time to adequately develop the player. There are only so many reps to go around, and an already-maligned veteran sharing valuable first-team reps with a developing backup isn’t a winning formula for Sundays.

Then again, the Ravens trying to utilize Jackson’s unique skills in some fashion during his rookie season should be a no-brainer. You can talk about practice reps and classroom time all you want, but there’s no substitute for live-game action and one of the major questions facing Jackson is his ability to handle pressure in the pocket, something not easily replicated in practice.

To little surprise, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was vague when asked how the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner would be handled during his rookie season.

“We talked about it just briefly on his visit about how we would go about these things,” Mornhinweg said. “So [quarterbacks coach James Urban] and myself and John plan together, pre-practice, all those things. It’s going to be important. As far as the future, we’ll see what happens there. Joe’s the quarterback of this football team. Lamar is going to develop all those things. So, we’ll see what happens.”

What about the coaches’ status in this equation?

Many have assumed Harbaugh and his staff would likely be dismissed without a return to the playoffs this coming season, but much has been made about the experiences of Mornhinweg and Urban resurrecting Michael Vick’s career in Philadelphia and assistant head coach Greg Roman tutoring Colin Kaepernick and Tyrod Taylor at previous stops. If Jackson’s development is truly the priority it needs to be after using a first-round pick on him, firing the coaching staff a year into his NFL career would seemingly set him back.

On Thursday, Harbaugh spoke in such glowing terms about a quarterback who doesn’t currently figure to be a major factor in 2018 that you wonder if he’s received assurances from owner Steve Bisciotti — who admitted he considered replacing him at the end of the 2017 season — that he’s not facing a playoffs-or-bust scenario and that his staff will be given sufficient time to oversee Jackson’s development. Otherwise, it’s difficult to imagine Harbaugh being thrilled about valuable draft capital being used solely for the future.

What about the relationship between Flacco and Jackson? The 33-year-old has always been viewed as a good teammate, but he’s never before been threatened by another quarterback on the roster, making you wonder how eager he’ll be to help tutor someone tabbed to take his job.

How will other Ravens players react if Flacco gets off to a lackluster start and the talented rookie is itching for his opportunity? Quarterback controversies can easily fracture a locker room if you’re not careful.

And we haven’t even mentioned how ugly it could get as soon as Flacco throws an interception or the offense has a few three-and-outs playing at home. A viable backup quarterback is always the most popular guy in town, meaning fan pressure to replace Flacco with Jackson at the first sign of trouble will be immense.

It all has the potential to be a very bumpy ride.

Regardless of your view on the Ravens’ decision on Thursday night, Jackson has impressive abilities and could eventually blossom into a dangerous NFL quarterback, but he’ll need proper coaching as well as a good roster surrounding him to succeed. A less-than-ideal salary cap situation, questions about the long-term status of the coaching staff, and the incumbent still being on the roster could all prove to be significant challenges as the torch is eventually passed.

The process sure will be fascinating to watch.

And it could be very problematic.

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First-round quarterback would cap disappointing finish to Newsome era

Posted on 25 April 2018 by Luke Jones

The Ravens will get the benefit of the doubt until they turn in their card late Thursday night.

Whether staying at 16th overall or moving elsewhere in the first round, Ozzie Newsome has a variety of directions he can go in the final draft of his Hall of Fame-caliber run as general manager that includes two Super Bowl titles and 10 playoff appearances in 22 years.

Despite signing three veteran wide receivers this offseason, Baltimore needs a pass-catching tight end and could still use another receiver with upside for both the present and future. After losing two starters from last year’s offensive line, a tackle such as Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey or even center Frank Ragnow from Arkansas would make sense despite neither being a sexy pick for an anxious fan base.

You could try to sell me on not being able to resist a special defensive talent such as Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith somehow sliding down the board, even if that would continue the post-Super Bowl XLVII theme of neglecting the offensive side of the ball. These are the defense-obsessed Ravens, after all, so that wouldn’t be all that stunning.

But a quarterback in the first round?

Nope.

Absolutely not.

Sorry, that’s a hard pass.

As owner Steve Bisciotti famously said in February, the Ravens have “bigger fish to fry.”

Yet the smoke persists with NFL Network’s Mike Mayock becoming the latest draft maven to mock Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson to the Ravens at No. 16. It’s one thing when a run-of-the-mill reporter or draft enthusiast makes the connection in the hundreds of mock drafts currently circulating the internet, but the likes of Mayock and Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer are connected throughout the league. At the very least, the Ravens are making it appear that they’re seriously considering drafting Joe Flacco’s heir apparent in the first round as Jackson reportedly even took a pre-draft visit to Baltimore.

To be clear, this isn’t an anti-Jackson stance. The former Heisman Trophy winner is an intriguing talent who has a chance to be a good NFL quarterback if he lands in the right environment, the same caveat that applies to other high-profile signal-callers in this year’s draft class.

Putting aside the warm-and-fuzzy narrative of Newsome taking the Ravens’ quarterback of the future in his final draft, let’s look at reality.

With Bisciotti admitting he considered replacing John Harbaugh at the end of last season, do you think the 11th-year head coach and his staff are going to be receptive to a first-round pick unlikely to make any meaningful impact this year when they’re in win-now mode and very likely fighting for their jobs after missing the playoffs three straight times? That puts them in an unfair position.

No matter how they spin it, taking a first-round quarterback would be a clear message that the Ravens are done with Flacco. You can point to the final year of the Alex Smith-Kansas City marriage that resulted in a trip to the playoffs as much as you’d like, but we still have no idea if Patrick Mahomes will work out for Andy Reid and the Chiefs, making that a flimsy example to use as justification.

In today’s NFL, the benefit of hitting on a quarterback in the draft is the flexibility it provides with the salary cap, but the Ravens will have essentially wasted the first year of that rookie contract and would still be dealing with $16 million in dead money on the 2019 cap by cutting Flacco next offseason. Sure, you could give his release a post-June 1 designation to push $8 million of that dead money to 2020, but that does you no good during free agency, meaning you’ve now minimized the benefits of the second season of that four-year rookie contract. That’s not a good start, and that’s assuming Jackson or whichever first-round quarterback you’d like to envision actually pans out.

Beyond those realities, does the current regime really deserve to reboot at the quarterback position yet? Why should the Ravens be trusted to build around another quarterback when they’ve done such a dismal job putting talent around the one who led them to their second NFL championship five years ago?

And please spare me the talk about Flacco’s contract.

The Ravens rank last in the NFL in non-quarterback money invested in the offensive side of the ball, according to OverTheCap.com. They’ve used just four of their 17 total picks in the first, second, and third rounds of the last five drafts on offensive players while attempting to recreate the 2000 defense with underwhelming results.

Since investing nine figures in the Super Bowl XLVII Most Valuable Player, the Ravens have consistently asked Flacco to do more with less than virtually any quarterback in the NFL.

To be clear, Flacco has underperformed and needs to own his share of the team’s shortcomings like anyone else, including the front office and coaching staff. There are legitimate reasons to doubt his future, ranging from his steadily-declining yards per attempt to concerns about his durability as he enters his mid-30s.

The end could very well be near for Flacco.

But the Ravens owe it to themselves and to their longtime quarterback to put their best foot forward for 2018 in Newsome’s final draft. They’ve hired a new quarterbacks coach in James Urban, who has a good reputation around the league and will hopefully address Flacco’s mechanics that have regressed since Gary Kubiak’s departure three years ago. Michael Crabtree, John Brown, and Willie Snead are each coming off down seasons, but they bring diverse skills to the passing game and have all tasted NFL success to varying degrees in the past. Investing meaningful draft picks on the offensive side of the ball would put the finishing touches on an offseason in which the Ravens brass can at least say they made more of an attempt to help Flacco than the usual dollar-store signings and Day 3 draft picks of recent years.

If he shows no meaningful improvement in 2018 from what we’ve seen the last few years, I’ll be the first to say it’s time to move on. New general manager Eric DeCosta can then begin his own quest for a new quarterback as the organization would likely be in transition in more ways than one.

This isn’t a special case like the New York Giants having the second overall pick and wondering if they’ll have another golden opportunity to replace their aging quarterback. The Ravens are picking in the middle of the first round and would be taking the fourth- or fifth-ranked quarterback in the class at best. Starting over by drafting a quarterback is never a high-percentage play and shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially when you’d be moving on from someone who once got you to the pinnacle when he had enough talent around him.

Newsome taking a quarterback Thursday would essentially be letting Flacco take the fall for his own shortcomings in recent years.

I’m still not buying it being the Ravens’ true play, but such an outcome would cap a lackluster finish to his long and successful run as general manager.

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New Orleans elects not to match Snead’s offer sheet with Ravens

Posted on 20 April 2018 by Luke Jones

(Updated: Monday 11:15 a.m.)

The Ravens have taken another step in addressing the wide receiver position by signing restricted free agent Willie Snead to a two-year offer sheet that won’t be matched by New Orleans.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the deal is worth $7 million, which includes a $2 million signing bonus and an additional $3.4 million in incentives. New Orleans had until Wednesday to match the offer and will not receive any compensation for the former undrafted free agent’s departure. According to the NFLPA, the Saints entered Monday with just over $6 million in salary cap space, a limited amount for a team that recently signed wide receiver Cameron Meredith.

Snead is coming off a forgettable season in which he caught only eight passes for 92 yards in 11 games. He was suspended for the first three games of 2017 for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, a penalty stemming from charges of driving while intoxicated and failing to maintain proper control of a vehicle last June. The Ball State product also dealt with a hamstring injury for a large portion of last season, another factor leading to him falling out of the mix.

However, the 25-year-old was a major contributor for Drew Brees and the Saints offense in the previous two seasons, catching a combined 141 passes for 1,879 yards and seven touchdowns. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Snead will serve as Baltimore’s slot receiver, a position general manager Ozzie Newsome had yet to fill after Jeremy Maclin was released and Michael Campanaro signed a one-year deal with Tennessee.

With the Ravens landing Snead, they have added a possession receiver and red-zone weapon in Michael Crabtree, an outside speed target in John Brown, and now a slot receiver to a passing game that ranked 29th in the NFL last season. The three offer diverse skills and have all enjoyed success in the past, but they combined for just 87 catches for 1,009 yards and 11 touchdowns last season with Crabtree accounting for most of that production. In other words, Newsome has invested quite a bit in a trio of targets needing bounce-back seasons.

Signing Snead is expected to take the Ravens out of the running for former Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant, who hasn’t publicly expressed any interest in signing with Baltimore. The Ravens would be wise to still make drafting another receiver or two a priority this week since none of the aforementioned receivers can be viewed as long-term solutions at this point.

Snead worked out for the Ravens in late March and caught passes from quarterback Robert Griffin III, who also signed with the team earlier this month.

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Twelve Ravens thoughts on 2018 schedule release

Posted on 20 April 2018 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens unveiling their 2018 regular-season schedule on Thursday night, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Playing four of the first six games on the road is a challenge, but that pales in comparison to 2015 when Baltimore played five of its first seven on the road with four being played out west. The longest trip the Ravens will make over that stretch is to Nashville.

2. This marks the first time the Ravens will play three straight road games since 2008, but that was the result of a rescheduled game in Houston because of Hurricane Ike. They did play three straight road games in 2000, which seemed to work out OK in the end.

3. Not having a prime-time home game is a bummer. Baltimore didn’t host one in 2015 either, but that was the result of two Sunday night games being flexed out during a 5-11 season. This is the first time M&T Bank Stadium hasn’t been originally scheduled to host one since 2008.

4. If you count the nationally-televised Christmas game two years ago, this marks the fifth straight year the Ravens will play a prime-time game in Pittsburgh. The NFL hasn’t scheduled a Ravens-Steelers night game in Baltimore since 2015, and even that one was flexed out. That seems unbalanced.

5. The Ravens haven’t entered their bye week with a winning record since 2014, illustrating how little margin for error they’ve had down the stretch in recent years. John Harbaugh must get his team to start fast despite six of the first nine contests coming against 2017 playoff teams.

6. Don’t forget how dramatically the perception of the schedule can change by the time these games are actually played. Last April, trips to Oakland and Green Bay looked like major challenges, but EJ Manuel and Brett Hundley subbing in for Derek Carr and Aaron Rodgers sure altered that.

7. I couldn’t help but laugh over the Ravens not having a Monday game at all after they finally hosted Monday Night Football for the first time since 2012 last season. Then again, I’m not sure I can blame the league when you recall how lousy that Ravens-Texans contest was.

8. Monday Night Football may not be returning to Baltimore this season, but former ESPN analyst Jon Gruden will be as the Raiders head coach. This is the first time Gruden will coach a game in Baltimore since 2002.

9. The Raiders have become the new Miami as Baltimore meets them for the fourth straight year. Meanwhile, the five-year streak of there being a Ravens-Dolphins game will finally come to an end this season.

10. The Ravens’ first ever trip to Los Angeles should have been one of the most attractive on the schedule for traveling fans, but leave it to the NFL to decide by late October whether it will be played Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, or Sunday afternoon — a couple days before Christmas.

11. It was a good decision moving up the sale of single-game tickets to the night of the schedule release rather than waiting until the summer. The organization needed to be more proactive after the number of empty seats witnessed last season.

12. The hype surrounding the schedule being released is a bit much considering we’ve known the opponents the Ravens would be playing for months, but it brings focus to the anticipation of a new season. Now we know they’ll be kicking off against Buffalo in a mere 142 days.

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Ravens to play two prime-time road games as part of 2018 schedule

Posted on 19 April 2018 by Luke Jones

Barring a flex scheduling change during the season, the Ravens will not host any prime-time games in 2018.

Baltimore opens the season at home against the Buffalo Bills for the second time in three years, but John Harbaugh’s team will face the challenge of playing four of its first six games away from M&T Bank Stadium, a stretch that includes two prime-time road games against AFC North rivals in the opening month and three straight road contests. The Ravens travel to Cincinnati for a Thursday game in Week 2 and will then try to exorcise their recent demons at Heinz Field for Sunday Night Football in Week 4.

For the first time since 2003, the Ravens will not play a Monday night game in the regular season.

In a peculiar twist, all three divisional road games will be completed by Week 5, the earliest the Ravens will have done this in franchise history. They will play just one AFC North team in the season’s final six weeks when Cleveland comes to Baltimore for Week 17.

After playing five of their first eight games on the road, the Ravens will stay home for the entire month of November, a period that includes their Week 10 bye.

The Ravens will play eight games against playoff teams from last season: Pittsburgh (twice), Buffalo, Kansas City, Tennessee, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Carolina. They have seven games against opponents who finished below .500 in 2017: Cincinnati (twice), Cleveland (twice), Denver, Tampa Bay, and Oakland.

For now, 11 of the Ravens’ 16 regular-season games are scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday starts, but many of those games are subject to flexible scheduling (see below).

2018 SCHEDULE

Sunday, Sept. 9 vs. Buffalo Bills — 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: The Bills ended their 17-year playoff drought thanks to the Ravens’ Week 17 collapse last December, but this is a team in transition with A.J. McCarron at the helm — for now.

Thursday, Sept. 13 at Cincinnati Bengals — 8:20 p.m.
Skinny: The Bengals knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs in one of the more stunning defeats in franchise history, an outcome that likely saved Marvin Lewis’ job.

Sunday, Sept. 23 vs. Denver Broncos — 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: Case Keenum was one of the feel-good stories of the 2017 season, but the Broncos have fallen on hard times since their Super Bowl victory a couple years ago.

Sunday, Sept. 30 at Pittsburgh Steelers — 8:20 p.m.
Skinny: Will the Ravens avoid losing a last-second heartbreaker at Heinz Field for the third straight year? This marks the fifth straight year the trip to Pittsburgh will be televised nationally.

Sunday, Oct. 7 at Cleveland Browns — 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: Hue Jackson has already declared Tyrod Taylor his quarterback for the 2018 season, which means the Browns’ first-round pick will likely be at the helm by Week 5.

Sunday, Oct. 14 at Tennessee Titans — 4:25 p.m.
Skinny: The Week 9 loss in Nashville last year proved to be the difference between the Titans making the playoffs and the Ravens being left out for the third straight year.

Sunday, Oct. 21 vs. New Orleans Saints — 4:05 p.m.
Skinny: The Saints are very talented and Drew Brees will be enshrined in Canton one day, but he’s a surprising 0-4 in his career against the Ravens.

Sunday, Oct. 28 at Carolina Panthers — 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: The hype for this one will pale in comparison to the 2014 meeting as Steve Smith now enjoys retirement, but the Panthers did add Torrey Smith to their receiver group this offseason.

Sunday, Nov. 4 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers — 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: There’s something not right about these rivals wrapping up the season series three weeks before Thanksgiving, but the Steelers snapped their four-game losing streak in Baltimore last year.

Sunday, Nov. 11 BYE
Skinny: The bye will be in Week 10 for the second straight year and has fallen no earlier than Week 8 in seven straight seasons.

Sunday, Nov. 18 vs. Cincinnati Bengals — 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: You’re telling me it’s not part of the NFL bylaws for the Ravens to play the Bengals in Week 17? This will be only the second time in nine years that hasn’t happened.

Sunday, Nov. 25 vs. Oakland Raiders — 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: Michael Crabtree put up huge numbers against Baltimore as a Raider, so we’ll see if he has a similar impact playing against his former team.

Sunday, Dec. 2 at Atlanta Falcons — 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: Who else is looking forward to reigniting those tired Matt Ryan-Joe Flacco debates stemming from the 2008 draft?

Sunday, Dec. 9 at Kansas City Chiefs — 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: Patrick Mahomes has big shoes to fill after the Chiefs traded Alex Smith, who led them to the playoffs in four of the last five seasons.

Sunday, Dec. 16 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: Ryan Jensen returns to Baltimore after the Buccaneers made him the highest-paid center in the NFL last month.

*Saturday, Dec. 22 or Sunday, Dec. 23 at Los Angeles Chargers
Skinny: I suppose the NFL is taking flexible scheduling to a new level this year as the Ravens will be making their first ever trip to Los Angeles.

Sunday, Dec. 30 vs. Cleveland Browns — 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: If the Ravens again need to win their season finale to secure a playoff berth and still can’t do it this time around, I really don’t know what to tell you.

* = The NFL will determine by Week 8 whether the Ravens-Chargers game will be played on Dec. 22 or Dec. 23.  If the game is played Saturday, it will kick off at either 4:30 p.m. or 8:20 p.m.on the NFL Network. Should the game be selected for Sunday, it will begin at 4:25 p.m. on CBS.

Notes: Flexible scheduling can be applied in Weeks 5 through 17. A flex scheduling change would be announced at least 12 days before the game except for the final week of the season. For Week 17, the Sunday night game is announced no later than six days prior to Dec. 30.

Another wrinkle implemented in recent years is a select number of games being “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring certain games to wider audiences.

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