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More questions than answers for Ravens entering training camp

Posted on 20 July 2016 by Luke Jones

We’re finally a week away from the curtain rising on the 2016 Ravens.

Sure, we caught a brief glimpse during last month’s mandatory minicamp, but how much could we really learn from non-contact practices that didn’t even include the starting quarterback, their No. 1 receiver, the starting outside linebackers, the top cornerback, and their 2015 first-round pick?

Trying to rebound from the worst season of the John Harbaugh era, the Ravens are hoping for better health after a team-record 21 players finished 2015 on injured reserve or the physically unable to perform list. They believe the free-agent additions of safety Eric Weddle, tight end Benjamin Watson, and wide receiver Mike Wallace and the continuing development of young players will provide the upside to return to the playoffs after failing to qualify in two of the last three years.

With a pedigree that includes two Super Bowl championships, four division titles, and 10 playoff appearances in the last 16 years, the Ravens bouncing back from a 5-11 campaign to once again become an AFC contender in 2016 would hardly be shocking. But there are more questions to ask than answers to offer as players report to Owings Mills over the next week.

What about this roster truly makes the Ravens brass rest easy at night?

Coming back from the first significant injury of his career, Joe Flacco is a franchise quarterback capable of playing at a championship level, even if his regular-season numbers don’t always reflect that. Coaches will need to be smart with him less than eight months removed from major knee surgery, but it’s comforting to know that the 31-year-old will be back on the field for the first day of training camp.

The Ravens offense has the best guard in football in Marshal Yanda and veteran starters at center and right tackle as well as arguably the deepest collection of tight ends in the NFL. The defense has one of the NFL’s best nose tackles, a 2015 Pro Bowl outside linebacker, a young inside linebacker who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, and a three-time Pro Bowl safety in Weddle, who should bring more leadership and order to a volatile secondary.

Baltimore has an elite trio of specialists in kicker Justin Tucker, punter Sam Koch, and long snapper Morgan Cox, who have all been to Pro Bowls and have signed long-term contracts over the last 12 months.

The talent and potential strengths don’t end there, but the serious questions begin at this point.

What can we reasonably expect from Steve Smith and Terrell Suggs coming back from Achilles tendon injuries?

It’s been a difficult recovery for the veteran receiver, who originally intended to make 2015 his last season. Doubting Smith’s heart and determination is foolish, but we know Father Time is undefeated, making it fair to question whether the 37-year-old can play close to the level he did prior to last year’s injury when he was still a No.1 option.

The little we’ve seen from Suggs since his injury last September includes a traffic-related arrest in Arizona in March and a guest appearance on HBO’s Ballers in which he played himself getting into a scrap with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s character. Set to turn 34 in October, the six-time Pro Bowl linebacker has been working out at the team’s facility in Owings Mills, but his conditioning and explosiveness will be scrutinized after his second Achilles injury in a four-year period. A substantially-diminished Suggs puts even more pressure on fellow veteran Elvis Dumervil as well as unproven options such as Za’Darius Smith and Kamalei Correa as pass rushers.

Will a second foot procedure allow Jimmy Smith to recapture his No. 1 cornerback form?

The 28-year-old had the screws removed from his surgically-repaired right foot this spring after he was still experiencing soreness from the 2014 Lisfranc procedure. The Ravens paid him handsomely last spring to be a difference-making presence in the secondary and need him to be the player he was in 2013 and 2014 if this defense is going to take a significant step forward this season.

What’s the reality with the Breshad Perriman injury?

It was great news that Dr. James Andrews didn’t recommend full ACL reconstruction surgery for Perriman in June, but the fact that he still prescribed a stem-cell injection makes you wonder about the healing process and stability of his left knee. The young receiver missed his entire rookie year with a right knee injury originally considered to be minor, so you hope this isn’t a cruel repeat of 2015.

For a team in desperate need of dynamic playmakers on both sides of the ball, Perriman may possess more upside than anyone on the roster if he can just stay on the field.

The questions go beyond players coming off injuries.

Even if 2016 first-round pick Ronnie Stanley proves to be more like Jonathan Ogden and less like the many who have tried to replace the Hall of Fame left tackle over the last decade, how confident can the organization honestly feel about a rookie and a new starter at left guard — projected to be John Urschel — protecting the blindside of a quarterback coming off a serious knee injury?

Baltimore has a collection of talented running backs, but is there truly a No. 1 guy in the bunch?

Who is going to play inside linebacker next to Mosley?

Is the rest of the defensive backfield ready to build on its second-half improvement from last year to be more of a force under new secondary coach Leslie Frazier?

Who might step forward to make a difference in the return game?

Finally and perhaps most importantly, are there at least a couple of young players ready to step forward to become special?

The Ravens have solid-to-good football players; they need more great ones.

All teams face questions this time of year, but there are more than usual for Baltimore entering 2016. It’s understandable after a 5-11 season that fell apart even before the injuries piled up at a record level.

We’ll soon get to see what’s behind the curtain.

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Ravens, Tucker strike four-year deal ahead of Friday deadline

Posted on 15 July 2016 by Luke Jones

Despite reportedly feeling “disillusioned” with negotiations a day earlier, kicker Justin Tucker came to a new four-year agreement with the Ravens less than an hour before Friday’s 4 p.m. deadline to sign franchise players.

According to ESPN, the sides agreed to a four-year, $16.8 million contract that included a $6 million signing bonus and a total of $10.8 million guaranteed, the highest guaranteed amount awarded to a kicker in NFL history. The total money falls just short of the four-year, $17.2 million deal signed by New England’s Stephen Gostkowski last summer, the contract many viewed all along as the framework for a Tucker contract.

“Justin has become a cornerstone for our team, and we are happy to get this contract completed,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement released by the team on Friday afternoon. “What is good for the Ravens right now is that we have our Pro Bowl special teams group — Sam [Koch], Morgan [Cox], and Justin — signed through the next three seasons.”

Tucker had been scheduled to play under the kicker franchise tag amount of $4.572 million, but his agent, Robert Roche, told ESPN that his client would not negotiate with the Ravens after the 2016 season if he did not get a long-term deal by Friday. Baltimore would have had the option of again using the franchise tag on Tucker next offseason under such a scenario.

Asked about his feelings over the last couple days, Tucker downplayed there being any animosity moving forward.

“It’s definitely an emotional rollercoaster; there’s no other way to put it,” Tucker said in a conference call with local media. “You do everything you can to try to compartmentalize your feelings and realize that whatever happens off the field, business is just business. The nature of my position is one that I put everything I have mentally, and emotionally, and spiritually into every single kick that I go out there and attempt during the football season.”

The second-most accurate kicker in NFL history among those with 100 attempts (87.8 percent) and the fastest kicker to both 100 field goals and 500 career points in league history, Tucker missed just one field goal try under 50 yards last season and has never missed an extra point in his career. However, his seven field goal misses in 2015 were a career worst, and Tucker has gone 8-for-19 on tries from 50 yards or more over the last two seasons.

Tucker converted “walk-off” field goals in three of Baltimore’s five wins last season and is considered one of the best clutch kickers in the NFL with 10 game-winning field goals in his first four seasons. He proved his great worth as an undrafted rookie from the University of Texas when he hit the game-winning 47-yarder in double overtime to beat Denver in the 2012 divisional round, one of the defining moments in the Ravens’ run to the Super Bowl XLVII title.

His 2013 season in which he converted 38 of 41 field goal tries resulted in him being voted the team MVP by local media and receiving an invitation to the Pro Bowl.

“It does me no good as a football player to look in the past and to celebrate my own accomplishments,” said Tucker when asked if the record contract has prompted him to reflect on his success. “I can’t ever think about it like that. I’ll have plenty of time to do that when I retire; hopefully, that is a long way away. All I’m focusing on is remaining and becoming, all at the same time, the best player that I can be.”

Newsome has now successfully signed the last five players on which he’s used the franchise tag to long-term contracts as Tucker joins running back Ray Rice (2012), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (2011), linebacker Terrell Suggs (2009), and cornerback Chris McAlister (2004).

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Tucker reportedly won’t re-sign with Ravens if no deal by Friday

Posted on 14 July 2016 by Luke Jones

Less than 24 hours prior to the deadline to sign franchise players to long-term contracts, negotiations have apparently turned ugly between kicker Justin Tucker and the Ravens.

According to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the 26-year-old says he will not entertain the possibility of signing a long-term deal with Baltimore after the 2016 season if an agreement is not reached by Friday’s 4 p.m. deadline. Tucker has repeatedly expressed optimism about signing a long-term contract, but his agent, Robert Roche, painted a different picture on Thursday.

“Justin’s disillusioned with the process right now and the Ravens position with him on his contract,” Roche told ESPN. “If we don’t get a long-term deal done by Friday, Justin will not entertain offers from the Ravens after the season.”

The report claims that Baltimore lowered its latest offer from previous ones on Thursday and the amount was less than the four-year, $16.1 million deal signed by Green Bay’s Mason Crosby earlier this offseason.

Of course, Roche’s comments are being viewed by most as a negotiating tactic, but it’s no secret that media-driven ploys do not sit well with general manager Ozzie Newsome, who rarely speaks to reporters. Still holding nearly $13 million in salary cap space with Tucker’s $4.572 million tag on the books, the Ravens are hardly in a position where they need to give in if he is looking to set a new and lucrative standard for kicker contracts.

Tucker signed his franchise tender in early March and attended spring organized team activities and June’s mandatory minicamp.

The four-year, $17.2 million agreement with $10.1 million guaranteed awarded to New England’s Stephen Gostkowski last summer is the richest kicker deal in NFL history with many outsiders considering it a reasonable point of reference for the negotiations with Tucker, who is five years younger but has three fewer Pro Bowl invitations to his name.

It’s also worth noting that the Ravens would have the option to use the tag on Tucker again next year if he were to follow through with the intention not to negotiate after the 2016 season. Giving him the franchise tag in 2017 would cost 120 percent of this year’s salary, which would come out to just under $5.5 million.

With that reality in mind, Tucker would be justified asking for nothing less than $10 million guaranteed in any long-term deal, which would be the sum of the tag amounts for 2016 and 2017.

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As deadline approaches, Ravens in good position with Tucker

Posted on 11 July 2016 by Luke Jones

Justin Tucker deserves to be made one of the highest-paid kickers in the NFL by the Ravens.

In fact, the 26-year-old has a good argument to top the list as he enters his fifth season as the second-most accurate kicker in league history among those with 100 field goal attempts. There’s no disputing the value he’s brought to Baltimore with only six career misses inside 50 yards and just one over the last two seasons combined.

But as Friday’s 4 p.m. deadline to sign franchise-tag players to long-term contracts rapidly approaches, general manager Ozzie Newsome shouldn’t feel too desperate to get a deal done. Even with Tucker’s $4.572 franchise tender currently on the books, the Ravens have almost $13 million in salary cap space, more than enough to make another veteran signing or two and to have flexibility going into the regular season when injuries are bound to occur.

The franchise amount would give Tucker the second-largest cash payout among kickers for 2016, behind only Green Bay’s Mason Crosby after he signed a long-term deal this winter. That outcome would hardly be a sign of disrespect for Tucker, who was originally undrafted from the University of Texas in 2012.

Despite Tucker expressing nothing but confidence this spring about a long-term deal getting done, it remains unclear what he and agent Robert Roche are asking for in terms of compensation. The four-year, $17.2 million deal with $10.1 million guaranteed signed by New England’s Stephen Gostkowski — a four-time Pro Bowl selection — last summer would appear to be a fair framework, but the Ravens shouldn’t feel obligated to set a new standard for kickers if that’s Tucker’s vision.

Kicker success can be fleeting — don’t forget that Baltimore signed Billy Cundiff to a five-year, $15 million deal just one year before his fateful miss in Foxborough — and it’s worth noting that Tucker has gone only 8-for-19 from 50 or more yards over the last two seasons. His incredible accuracy inside 50 cannot be discounted, but the Ravens would surely like to see him rediscover some of the long-ball success he displayed over his first two years when he went 10-for-11 from 50 or longer.

That’s a reasonable expectation if Tucker is looking to become the highest-paid kicker on the planet. And it’s fair to wonder if that’s the sticking point if the 2013 Pro Bowl kicker is seeking a lucrative and trend-setting contract.

Tight end clarity

Much has been written about the Ravens’ extensive depth at tight end, but these types of competitions often have a way of sorting themselves out as we witnessed with 2015 sixth-round pick Darren Waller being suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy earlier this month.

This news coupled with the 10-game suspension for second-year tight end Nick Boyle will make for some easier roster decisions for the Ravens, who already have Benjamin Watson, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, and Dennis Pitta on the depth chart. What remains to be seen is whether there will be roster room — or enough forgiveness — for Waller and Boyle when their bans expire.

This is Boyle’s second suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy while Waller is facing his first NFL discipline after being suspended twice at Georgia Tech for testing positive for marijuana.

One who fortunately got away

Remember when the Ravens signed Rolando McClain to potentially take over for Ray Lewis in 2013 before the troubled linebacker got arrested and abruptly retired? Remember how they gave the former Oakland Raider another chance a year later before he flopped during a workout and retired again?

Newsome netted a sixth-round pick by sending McClain and a seventh-round choice to Dallas in the summer of 2014, but the Ravens clearly dodged a bullet with the 26-year-old now being suspended for a second time with the Cowboys for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

The Ravens may currently face uncertainty at inside linebacker next to C.J. Mosley, but McClain did them a favor — twice — by demonstrating his lack of commitment to be a successful NFL player. He’s played well at times over the last two years, but he’s fortunately the Cowboys’ problem and wasn’t worth the trouble.

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Sizing up the post-minicamp 2016 Ravens roster

Posted on 20 June 2016 by Luke Jones

With mandatory minicamp behind them and training camp several weeks away, the Ravens turn their attention toward the preseason and eventually trimming the current offseason roster down to 53 by the start of the regular season.

Little should be taken away from voluntary organized team activities and three mandatory practices — conducted without live contact — but my still-too-early look at the roster suggests as many as 43 players would be considered locks if the deadline to trim the roster took place in late June. My rough assessment of the 89 players currently on the roster lists 26 on the bubble. Not all bubble players are on equal footing, of course, with some positions lacking quality depth and others enjoying an abundance of talent.

Though general manager Ozzie Newsome, coach John Harbaugh, and the rest of the coaching staff and front office pay attention to the numbers at each position, trying to pinpoint a specific number of wide receivers or cornerbacks or linebackers isn’t the most accurate way of projecting the roster. The Ravens are looking for reserves who can excel on special teams in addition to their designated position, so they will look carefully at players’ other abilities and overall athleticism in addition to what they bring to their specific position when filling out the bottom of the roster.

Of course, this breakdown could change at any point and certainly by the first day of training camp if any individuals report to Owings Mills in poor physical condition or have not done the necessary mental preparation for the summer.

The numbers in parentheses indicate the total number of players currently on the roster at that given position. As we move into the preseason, I’ll provide updated looks as well as projections of who’s in and who’s out during the different stages of the summer.

QUARTERBACKS (4)
LOCK: Joe Flacco, Ryan Mallett
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: Josh Johnson, Jerrod Johnson
Skinny: Mallett has his moments impressing you with his strong throwing arm, but he also made too many ill-advised plays this spring. Needless to say, the Ravens have to be happy that Flacco is on track to be on the field for the first day of training camp.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (7)
LOCK: Justin Forsett, Kyle Juszczyk, Buck Allen, Kenneth Dixon
BUBBLE: Terrance West, Lorenzo Taliaferro
LONG SHOT: Trent Richardson
Skinny: There is plenty of NFL-caliber talent in this group of tailbacks, but the question is whether there is a legitimate No. 1 option to stand out from the rest. Richardson is a nice comeback story, but hamstring and knee injuries clearly have him lagging behind the rest of the group.

WIDE RECEIVERS (10)
LOCK: Steve Smith, Kamar Aiken, Breshad Perriman, Mike Wallace, Chris Moore
BUBBLE: Michael Campanaro, Jeremy Butler, Keenan Reynolds, Chris Matthews, Kaelin Clay
LONG SHOT: None
Skinny: This group lacks clarity with the current status of Smith and Perriman, but the competition for what figures to be one or two spots among these bubble receivers will be fascinating. Reynolds has plenty of fans in his corner, but don’t sleep on Clay as a return specialist after a good spring.

TIGHT ENDS (7)
LOCK: Benjamin Watson, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams
BUBBLE: Dennis Pitta, Darren Waller
LONG SHOT: Daniel Brown
SUSPENDED: Nick Boyle
Skinny: Pitta being listed on the bubble player has more to do with his health and how he’ll respond to live contact this summer than his playing ability. Waller winning a roster spot won’t be easy, but his versatility to also play receiver and his special-teams ability shouldn’t count him out.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (15)
LOCK: Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley, Rick Wagner, Jeremy Zuttah, John Urschel, Alex Lewis, Ryan Jensen
BUBBLE: James Hurst, De’Ondre Wesley, Vladimir Ducasse
LONG SHOT: Anthony Fabiano, Matt Skura, Jarell Broxton, Blaine Clausell, Stephane Newbot
Skinny: The early reviews for Stanley have been positive, but it’s fair to be concerned about the tackle depth following Eugene Monroe’s release. Lewis primarily worked at guard this spring, but he could unseat Hurst as the team’s swing tackle or the Ravens could add a veteran to the mix.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)
LOCK: Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, Lawrence Guy, Carl Davis, Bronson Kaufusi, Willie Henry
BUBBLE: Brent Urban, Kapron Lewis-Moore
LONG SHOT: Trevon Coley, Michael Pierce
Skinny: The Ravens are loaded along the defensive line, so it will be interesting to see how many of these young players they will ultimately keep. Urban is more than likely on the good side of the bubble, but he needs to stay healthy and show more than he did in his first NFL action late last season.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (6)
LOCK: C.J. Mosley, Zachary Orr, Albert McClellan
BUBBLE: Arthur Brown
LONG SHOT: Cavellis Luckett, Patrick Onwuasor
Skinny: There may not be a more interesting competition in camp than this one as the Ravens have chosen to this point not to add a veteran to replace Daryl Smith. Orr appears to be the favorite to start next to Mosley, but Baltimore has experimented with moving second-rounder Kamalei Correa inside.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (9)
LOCK: Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Za’Darius Smith, Kamalei Correa
BUBBLE: Matt Judon, Victor Ochi, Chris Carter
LONG SHOT: Brennen Beyer, Mario Ojemudia
Skinny: The Ravens have numbers here, but what can they really expect from Suggs, who is still working his way back from last September’s Achilles tendon injury? Judon and Ochi are green players, but they provide upside as potential situational pass-rushing options.

CORNERBACKS (10)
LOCK: Jimmy Smith, Shareece Wright, Jerraud Powers, Tavon Young
BUBBLE: Will Davis, Sheldon Price, Maurice Canady, Kyle Arrington
LONG SHOT: Julian Wilson
INJURED RESERVE: Jumal Rolle
Skinny: New secondary coach Leslie Frazier has several slot cornerbacks, but outside depth is thin behind Smith and Wright with Davis coming back from a serious knee injury and Sheldon Price lacking experience. The veteran Arrington took a pay cut this offseason and is firmly on the bubble.

SAFETIES (7)
LOCK: Eric Weddle, Lardarius Webb
BUBBLE: Kendrick Lewis, Terrence Brooks, Matt Elam, Anthony Levine
LONG SHOT: Sam Brown
Skinny: The Ravens are committed to Weddle and Webb as their starting safeties, but what happens after that is anyone’s guess. It’s possible that all four of these “bubble” safeties could make the roster, but there isn’t much separation among them at this point.

SPECIALISTS (4)
LOCK: Sam Koch, Morgan Cox, Justin Tucker
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: Wil Lutz
Skinny: With Koch and Cox signing long-term deals in the last calendar year and Tucker receiving the franchise tag this offseason, the Ravens are set at these spots with Lutz expected to merely share some practice reps this summer.

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Flacco expects to be ready for first day of training camp

Posted on 16 June 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Joe Flacco and the Ravens see the light at the end of the tunnel.

No longer limited in anything he does physically, the 31-year-old quarterback will primarily focus on getting his throwing arm in shape for training camp with most of the heavy lifting from rehabbing his surgically-repaired left knee now behind him.

“If I had to go play in the Super Bowl today, I’d be out there playing in it,” said Flacco, who underwent surgery just over six months ago. “I expect to be on the field for the first day. We’ll see how I feel at that point. I’m kind of curious to see as training camp goes along. Am I going to have sore days and stuff like that? But I expect to be out there and ready to go.”

The Ravens will welcome him back to the field with open arms as they try to rebound from the first losing season of the John Harbaugh era. It’s been difficult to evaluate the Baltimore offense this spring with backup quarterback Ryan Mallett at the helm, but Flacco downplayed the significance of missing spring organized team activities and mandatory minicamp as he continued to recover.

Though expressing excitement to work with free-agent newcomers Benjamin Watson and Mike Wallace in the passing game, Flacco quipped that seeing the veterans look so tired after spring workouts made him not miss being on the field as much at this point in the offseason.

But it’s almost time to get back to normal work for the Super Bowl XLVII Most Valuable Player, who signed a three-year extension worth $66.4 million this offseason that keeps him under contract through the 2021 season.

“I know you have this itch, this desire to get out there, but you’re just not quite ready,” said Watson, who suffered a season-ending knee injury as a rookie with the New England Patriots in 2004. “I can relate to him on that level. Just watching him knowing that he has control of the offense and that he’s one of the great quarterbacks in the league is exciting for me when he does get out there.”

Even as Flacco expects to be ready for the first day of training camp physically, some unknown exists as it relates to being back in the line of fire.

After all, Flacco was injured in the pocket when offensive tackle James Hurst was driven back into his knee, tearing the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee. That kind of environment can’t be replicated during the rehab process.

“When I’m out there running around and cutting on it and doing those things, there is no tentativeness because I didn’t hurt it that way,” Flacco said. “I hurt it getting hit. I’m curious. It will probably be a little different the first time I take a couple dropbacks and feel a little bit of guys coming [after me in the pocket]. I’ll have to step and throw still, but I don’t expect to have those kinds of thoughts linger in my head.”

Participating in meetings and continuing to rehab and work out throughout the spring, Flacco has watched portions of practices and hasn’t been completely isolated from the rest of the team. However, nothing beats the camaraderie fostered from being on the field with teammates.

That feeling was absent after he suffered the worst injury of his entire football career.

“I wanted to be the guy that played 15, 16, or 17 years and didn’t miss a snap,” Flacco said. “To come to grips with that was definitely tough to begin with. To see your teammates out there and not be out there with them [or] see them come back in the locker room on Monday or Tuesday after the game and see the fun they had or even the distraught that was in their eyes because they lost a game, it was all that stuff that you missed out on being a part of.

“You very quickly get isolated and tossed aside when you’re not on the team and not playing. That is just the reality of this game. It goes very quickly; it moves on very quickly.”

Fortunately for Flacco and the Ravens, that time is finally behind them.

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Ravens release veteran left tackle Eugene Monroe

Posted on 15 June 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The divorce between the Ravens and Eugene Monroe became official Wednesday after the veteran left tackle’s contract was terminated.

A day after head coach John Harbaugh confirmed that general manager Ozzie Newsome was in trade discussions regarding Monroe’s services, Baltimore officially parted ways with the 29-year-old, who signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract in 2014 that included $17.5 million guaranteed. Despite missing a total of four games in his first five NFL seasons, Monroe started just 17 of 34 games over the last two seasons as he was sidelined with a variety of ailments.

It became apparent early this offseason that the Ravens were ready to move on from Monroe, first attempting to re-sign standout guard Kelechi Osemele to play left tackle permanently and then taking Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley with their earliest draft pick in 16 years. The veteran tackle’s stance on medical marijuana has also grabbed headlines over the last few months with Monroe even posting on Twitter last week that he felt the organization was distancing itself from him and his position.

By cutting him after June 1, the Ravens save $6.5 million in salary cap space while carrying $2.2 million in dead money. The 2017 salary cap will also carry $4.4 million in dead money from Monroe’s contract.

The frustration with Monroe likely boiled over in Week 11 last year when he exited with a shoulder injury before his replacement, James Hurst, was then pushed into starting quarterback Joe Flacco’s left knee, causing his season-ending ACL injury late in a 16-13 win over St. Louis. That would prove to be Monroe’s final game with the Ravens as he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery the following month.

Monroe had been cleared to return to the practice field last week, but the Ravens held him out of the first day of minicamp while attempting to trade him. According to NFL Network, the New York Giants were interested in Monroe but not at his $6.5 million salary for 2016 as well as his $6.75 million salaries for the final two years of his contract.

A first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009, Monroe was traded to the Ravens on Oct. 1, 2013 and played well in 11 games, prompting Newsome to invest a long-term contract in the University of Virginia product.

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Ravens attempting to trade veteran tackle Monroe

Posted on 14 June 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens are poised to move on from veteran left tackle Eugene Monroe.

Despite being cleared to return to the field from last December’s season-ending shoulder surgery last week, Monroe was not on the field for the start of Baltimore’s three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. Head coach John Harbaugh confirmed that general manager Ozzie Newsome was engaged in discussions to trade Monroe, who is scheduled to make $6.5 million in base salary this season.

Monroe said via his official Twitter account on Friday that the Ravens had distanced themselves from him and his strong position in favor of medical marijuana, but the organization had been noncommittal about his future throughout the offseason. After unsuccessfully trying to re-sign Kelechi Osemele with the intention of permanently moving him to left tackle, Newsome selected Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley with the sixth overall pick in April’s draft.

“My understanding right now is that teams are inquiring about Eugene,” Harbaugh said. “When you’re in that kind of a situation, when there’s a possibility of those kinds of things happening, you’re pretty much obligated to pull back and not practice a guy. That where it’s at right now. It’s in Ozzie’s hands, and we’ll just see where it goes.”

Entering the third season of a five-year, $37.5 million contract that included $17.5 million guaranteed, Monroe, 29, has started just 17 games since the start of 2014 while missing action with a variety of injuries. He was sidelined last November when backup left tackle James Hurst was pushed into Joe Flacco’s left knee, causing a season-ending injury.

Trading or cutting Monroe now would clear $6.5 million in salary cap space — leaving $2.2 million in dead money on this year’s salary cap — and would push $4.4 million in dead money to the 2017 cap.

The only other surprise absence from the field on Tuesday was outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil, who is scheduled to speak with reporters on Wednesday. Like a few other veterans, Dumervil hadn’t taken part in any voluntary organized team activities open to the media.

“I think Elvis is going to be up here tomorrow, so he can give you the details,” Harbaugh said. “But he had what has been termed a ‘preventative procedure.’ He’s not ready to go in minicamp. He’ll be ready to go in training camp, but he can explain that to you [Wednesday].”

Other players missing from Tuesday’s practice were quarterback Joe Flacco (knee), linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles tendon), defensive linemen Bronson Kaufusi (back) and Michael Pierce (undisclosed), cornerback Jumal Rolle (Achilles tendon), and wide receivers Steve Smith (Achilles tendon), Breshad Perriman (knee), and Michael Campanaro (calf).

Cornerback Jimmy Smith was on the field and wearing a helmet, but the veteran defensive back was limited to playing catch as he continues to recover from foot surgery earlier this spring.

Kaufusi signed his four-year rookie deal on Tuesday, meaning the Ravens’ entire 2016 draft class is now under contract.

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Perriman receives good news regarding 2016 status

Posted on 14 June 2016 by Luke Jones

It appears Ravens wide receiver Breshad Perriman’s 2016 season hasn’t come to an end, after all.

Tuesday’s arthroscopic surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews revealed that the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee is stable, meaning Perriman won’t need season-ending reconstruction surgery. The 22-year-old received a stem-cell injection to speed up the healing process, and the Ravens expect Perriman to be able to play this season.

The 2015 first-round pick hurt his left knee on the final day of organized team activities last week and was initially diagnosed with a partially-torn ACL, leaving his season in jeopardy before receiving the second opinion.

“I would just say that it’s not a tear that needs to be repaired,” head coach John Harbaugh. “I don’t know if it’s a tear or it it’s a partial tear or what exactly. I wasn’t there. Maybe Breshad can comment on that from what the doctors told him when he comes back. It just needs treatment, and he should be back at some point in time during training camp [and] will certainly be ready for the regular reason.

“But, again, that’s always unpredictable. I think we’ve been down this road before. We’ll continue to just work hard and do that. It was really good news today.”

As Harbaugh alluded to, skepticism will remain about how quickly Perriman can return to the field after he missed his entire rookie season with a partially-torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee that was originally considered minor. However, this appears to be good news for the 2015 first-round pick and the Ravens compared to the alternative of season-ending ACL reconstruction.

With Thursday’s news, the Ravens still envision Perriman and veteran newcomer Mike Wallace becoming a dangerous downfield duo for quarterback Joe Flacco this season.

“You just feel for him and especially feel for him to not even be able to get his feet wet yet,” said Wallace about the second-year receiver. “He was just telling me last week how excited he was for this upcoming season. And we’re still hopeful that he’ll be back soon. We’re going to stay prayed up and keep hope alive for him, and I think hopefully he’ll be back at some point this season to help us.”

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Tuesday surgery to reportedly decide Perriman’s 2016 fate

Posted on 13 June 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are holding out hope that wide receiver Breshad Perriman won’t miss a second straight season with a knee injury.

According to ESPN, there is “absolutely” a chance that the 2015 first-round pick could still play this season if Tuesday’s arthroscopic surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews determines he doesn’t need reconstruction of the partially-torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. If reconstruction isn’t required, NFL Network reported that a stem-cell injection could aid in the healing of the ACL, a treatment that was also used for the partially-torn posterior cruciate ligament in Perriman’s right knee last year.

Of course, the odds are still against Perriman as most “partial” ACL tears still lead to the same reconstruction procedure that would end his 2016 season. The critical questions are how stable and functional the knee is after the injury and how quickly he heals as it was no secret that the Ravens were frustrated by his slow recovery last year.

The Ravens begin their three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday with head coach John Harbaugh expected to address the media after practice.

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