Tag Archive | "NFL"

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Ravens’ free-agent newcomers assigned jersey numbers

Posted on 26 April 2016 by Luke Jones

With organized team activities set to begin next month, the Ravens officially announced jersey numbers for one of their more decorated groups of free-agent newcomers in recent years.

As he did for nine seasons in San Diego, veteran safety Eric Weddle will wear No. 32 as he leads the Baltimore secondary this fall. The Ravens hope the three-time Pro Bowl selection will finally bring stability to a position lacking in that department since the departure of Ed Reed after the 2012 season.

Speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace will wear No. 12 as second-year receiver and tight end Darren Waller has switched to No. 84. Tight end Benjamin Watson will wear No. 82, the same number with New Orleans over the last three seasons.

Attempting a comeback after sitting out the 2015 season, 2012 first-round running back Trent Richardson will wear No. 33, which was last worn by former Ravens safety Will Hill.

Below are other Ravens players who have changed their jersey numbers from last season:

WR Chris Matthews — No. 13 (previously 84)
WR Kaelin Clay — No. 16 (previously 81)
CB Sheldon Price — No. 27 (previously 32)
RB Terrance West — No. 28 (previously 27)
TE Konrad Reuland — No. 85 (previously 86)
TE Nick Boyle — No. 86 (previously 82)

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Options aplenty, but no perfect prospect for Ravens at No. 6

Posted on 25 April 2016 by Luke Jones

We’re a couple days away from the paralysis by analysis finally coming to an end.

As it stands, the Ravens will make their highest pick in an NFL draft since 2000 when they’ll be on the clock sixth overall. Or, they’ll trade up or down, which certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility with three first-round trades having already been consummated long before teams arrive in Chicago.

But the Ravens are guaranteed to have a shiny new toy by the time the first round concludes late Thursday night.

To no one’s surprise, general manager Ozzie Newsome and the organization have been very quiet while everyone else tries to figure out exactly what the Ravens want to do. The good news is that when you’re coming off a 5-11 season and have multiple needs, you don’t have to be too desperate for the draft board to fall a certain way.

But that doesn’t mean a perfect prospect exists, either, as months of analysis and over-analysis have proven.

Mississippi left tackle Laremy Tunsil was considered the favorite to be the No. 1 pick before Tennessee traded out of the top spot two weeks ago, but a few are now speculating that even Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley could pass him in the draft rankings despite neither having played a game since January. Even with Tunsil’s impressive physical gifts, Ravens fans salivating over the thought of him replacing the oft-injured Eugene Monroe could be looking past the lineman missing time with a knee injury, a torn bicep, a dislocated ankle, and a broken leg during his collegiate career.

With the injuries, some off-field concerns, and the underwhelming track record of top 10 offensive tackles making the difficult transition from college to the pros in recent years, Tunsil doesn’t quite feel like the “safe” pick many project him to be — even if he realizes his immense upside and winds up being much closer to Jonathan Ogden than Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher in his career.

Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey has the size and speed to play anywhere in the defensive backfield, but his underwhelming hands led to few game-changing plays in college and some believe his unspectacular change-of-direction skill suggests he’s better suited as a safety in the NFL, which isn’t generally what you’re looking for with the sixth overall pick.

Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa was regularly listed as the No. 1 pick in mock drafts before his stock took a dive in the pre-draft process with him lacking great straight-line speed and freakish athleticism. He’s a high-motor player and fits Baltimore’s pass-rushing need, but he doesn’t show great speed off the edge and is a little more of a question mark as a 3-4 outside linebacker than as a 4-3 defensive end.

UCLA linebacker Myles Jack is a phenomenal fit on paper and would be the cover linebacker the Ravens need to pair with C.J. Mosley, but there’s just too much noise concerning his knee to not feel nervous about picking him so early. Baltimore cannot afford to have another Breshad Perriman situation play out if the medical team has any legitimate concerns about Jack’s knee.

And that brings us to Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner, who probably feels the most like a “Ravens” pick despite there being little noise about the sides having much communication in the pre-draft process. Buckner might have the lowest bust rate of any of the aforementioned names, but the 5-technique defensive end spot isn’t a major need and he may not have as much upside as the others, which is a very fair concern when you’re making your first top 10 selection in over a decade.

In short, you can poke holes in any of these prospects if you want to, which is exactly what happens over the exhausting pre-draft process.

Of course, these are the names discussed most often by the outside world as the consensus top five non-quarterbacks in this year’s draft. We can’t be sure where the Ravens stand with the likes of Stanley, Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, and Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson as any could be rated higher on Baltimore’s board than we anticipate.

After years of watching the Ravens pick toward the end of the first round — which is where you want to be — we should be reminded that there’s no such thing as a perfect prospect, no matter how high a team is choosing. If the Ravens did their homework, they’re all but guaranteed to come away with a really good starting player for years to come, barring injury. If they are really smart and lucky, they’ll turn in a card with the name of a multi-time Pro Bowl player written on it. And if Newsome and the Ravens hit the lottery jackpot as they did twice in their first ever draft 20 years ago, they’ll come away with a player who will be enshrined in Canton one day.

There isn’t a single pick they can make on Thursday that will make everyone happy. Every possible selection can make you take pause to some degree, but there may also be more than one correct answer from which to choose, which should ease concerns for Ravens fans.

As assistant general manager Eric DeCosta likes to say, the draft is more art than it is science.

With Thursday night almost upon us, the fun part is about to begin.

And the Ravens will officially take their shot at finding a game-changing player.

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Ravens’ draft position continues to improve with latest trade

Posted on 20 April 2016 by Luke Jones

The 2016 NFL draft is a week away and the Ravens’ position continues to improve without general manager Ozzie Newsome even needing to pick up the phone.

With Philadelphia moving up to the second overall pick in a trade with Cleveland on Wednesday, the Eagles are clearly set on taking a quarterback, meaning another of the elite non-quarterback prospects will be available when Baltimore is scheduled to pick at No. 6. The move came less than a week after the Los Angeles Rams traded up to the No. 1 pick in a blockbuster deal with Tennessee.

Now that quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are projected to come off the board with the first two picks, at least two of the following players will be available when Newsome and the Ravens are on the clock: Mississippi left tackle Laremy Tunsil, Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey, Ohio State edge rusher Joey Bosa, Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner, and UCLA linebacker Myles Jack.

Of course, Wednesday’s trade could just intensify the rest of the quarterback sweepstakes with other teams hunting for a signal-caller now knowing Goff and Wentz will be gone early. Does Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch now enter the conversation as a potential top 10 pick? If so, would Newsome and the Ravens forgo selecting one of the top players on their board if another team desperate enough to hand over a lucrative bounty of picks comes calling to move up?

It’s interesting to note that Lynch took an official visit with the Ravens, according to agent Leigh Steinberg. No one could possibly expect the Ravens to draft Lynch with their first-round pick, so Newsome could be trying to gauge which teams have expressed the most interest in the quarterback to explore trade scenarios at the sixth spot.

Regardless of how it ultimately plays out on Thursday night, the latest trade just improves the chances of the Ravens either landing a player they truly covet or setting up the possibility of obtaining terrific value in a trade-down scenario.

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Flacco still setting sights on being ready for training camp

Posted on 19 April 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco still doesn’t know exactly when he’ll be back on the practice field, but the goal of being ready for the start of training camp remains in his sights.

Less than five months after undergoing surgery to repair the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee, the 31-year-old is running — not yet at full speed — and says he feels little tentativeness except when trying a new movement for the first time in the long rehabilitation process. But he also understands the need to be cautious, wearing a brace as he continues to strengthen the knee and always focusing on the big picture of being ready for the start of the season.

“I feel good. I’m getting better and better,” Flacco said. “I still feel improvement week to week. We’ve never really set a timeline out and said I’m going to be back at ‘this point,’ but I think it’s still going really, really well. Over the past three weeks, I’ve started to feel some big improvements so, I feel good about it.”

With the Ravens beginning their offseason workout program on Monday, Flacco joked about how much quieter it was in the team’s training facility in Owings Mills all offseason when it was just him and a handful of others rehabbing from injuries. He also admitted that the first couple days of meetings have felt redundant as he will start consecutive seasons with the same offensive coordinator, Marc Trestman, for the first time since his first five NFL seasons with Cam Cameron, a positive in overcoming his anticipated absence during spring organized team activities.

But Flacco knows he has much work to do in order to be ready when training camp opens in late July.

“I can do everything pretty much,” said Flacco, who cited how much work must be done to the rest of the body to get in sync with the knee. “It’s just a matter of how well I can do it and do I have a little limp here and there. We do little agility [drills]. It’s not like I’m running full speed and cutting on it and things like that, but I’ve got a good amount of things that I’m allowed to do. I go out on the field and run, wear my braces and all that good stuff.”

Asked about his level of apprehension with his front leg when throwing, Flacco acknowledged that he hasn’t done much passing, but he is moving closer to the time when he’ll be picking up a football more frequently. For the time being, he’s been playing catch here and there from about 15 yards.

Flacco looks forward to the time when he’ll be able to air it out to get a better feel for newcomers such as speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace and veteran tight end Benjamin Watson, but he isn’t overly concerned if that doesn’t happen before late July.

It’s apparent where the Super Bowl XLVII MVP’s head is as it relates to being back on the football field.

“At the end of the day, training camp is going to be enough time,” Flacco said. “I’m pretty sure I’m probably not going to get a ton of time before that, so that’s going to be enough time. You’d like to get as much as you can, but that will be plenty to get going.”

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Ravens begin 2016 voluntary offseason workout program

Posted on 18 April 2016 by Luke Jones

Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens

Taking another step toward putting a difficult 2015 season behind them, the Ravens opened their voluntary offseason workout program in Owings Mills on Monday.

The opening phase of the nine-week program lasts two weeks and is limited to strength and conditioning work as well as physical rehabilitation. Coaches are not permitted to lead players in on-field workouts during this first part of the offseason program.

This part of the offseason program is strictly voluntary, but most players beyond select veterans are expected to attend regularly.

The Ravens will provide media access on Tuesday, but photos and video released by the team showed a large number of players in attendance on the first day including three-time Pro Bowl safety and veteran newcomer Eric Weddle, newly-signed running back Trent Richardson, quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Ryan Mallett, wide receiver Breshad Perriman, defensive backs Jimmy Smith, Matt Elam, Terrence Brooks and Kendrick Lewis, linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Arthur Brown, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, and tight ends Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams and Dennis Pitta.

A video also showed Perriman taking part in running drills, a positive sign for his still-unclear status after he missed his entire rookie season with a partially-torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

The second phase of the program lasts three weeks and consists of on-field workouts that may include individual player instruction and drills as well as team practice as long as the offense and defense do not work against each other. No live contact is permitted.

The final phase of the program lasts four weeks and permits teams to conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity (OTAs), which are voluntary. No live contact is permitted, but teams may conduct 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills.

Teams are also allowed to hold one mandatory minicamp for all veteran players during that final phase of the offseason program.

Earlier this month, the NFL released the following dates for the Ravens’ OTA and mandatory minicamp schedule, but these have later been adjusted in the past:

First day of voluntary workouts: April 18
OTA offseason workouts: May 24-26, June 1-3, June 6-9
Mandatory minicamp: June 14-16

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Ravens officially sign Trent Richardson to offseason roster

Posted on 18 April 2016 by Luke Jones

After nearly two months of anticipation, the Ravens officially signed running back Trent Richardson for the start of the offseason training program in Owings Mills on Monday morning.

Baltimore was first linked to the third overall pick of the 2012 draft during the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, but the organization wanted the former Cleveland and Indianapolis running back to get into better shape. Head coach John Harbaugh said last month that the Ravens had reached an “unofficial agreement” with Richardson, but the 25-year-old is now an official member of the 90-man offseason roster.

The University of Alabama product wasn’t sure if his NFL career was over after he was cut by the Oakland Raiders last August and sat out the 2015 season. However, general manager Ozzie Newsome — also a former Crimson Tide great — and the Ravens were willing to give Richardson another chance despite a disappointing start to his career.

After a solid rookie season with the Browns in which he rushed for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns, Richardson quickly fell out of favor in Cleveland and wasn’t any better following a trade to Indianapolis as both organizations were dissatisfied with his weight and lack of commitment to the game. In 46 career games, Richardson has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry.

The 5-foot-9, 230-pound back rushed for over 3,000 yards in a brilliant collegiate career.

Richardson will still have to earn his way onto the 53-man roster this summer as he’ll compete in a crowded backfield that already includes Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and Terrance West.

Wide receiver Kamar Aiken signed his restricted second-round tender on Monday, and Baltimore also announced the signings of three exclusive-rights free agents: wide receiver Jeremy Butler, return specialist Kaelin Clay, and offensive lineman Ryan Jensen.

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Five questions about the Ravens’ 2016 schedule

Posted on 15 April 2016 by Luke Jones

The 2016 schedule is officially set for the Ravens and below are five questions to ponder:

1. What will the Ravens’ record be at the bye?

I’ll abstain from predicting Baltimore’s record when the draft hasn’t even taken place yet, but it is interesting to note that six of the Ravens’ first seven games will come against non-playoff teams from a year ago. However, this is a bit deceiving as the New York Jets finished with a 10-6 record in 2015 and the Oakland Raiders may have the best young roster in the league after adding even more talent this offseason.

Still, I’m not sure I’ll like the Ravens’ chances of getting to the playoffs if they’re anything less than 5-2 by the time they hit their Week 8 bye, especially when they play road games at New England, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati in a four-week span to close the regular season.

2. Has a team ever played back-to-back road games at the same venue?

We’ve seen Week 17 opponents meet in the first round of the playoffs in the same stadium, but I’m curious to know how many times a team has played road games against the New York Giants and the New York Jets in consecutive weeks. At least the Ravens should be very familiar with MetLife Stadium by around 4:15 p.m. on Oct. 23.

No, I’m not interested enough to do the research to find out if and when it’s happened before, but I’d gladly thank you if you are willing to do the work.

3. What will the “Color Rush” uniforms look like for the Ravens-Browns game on Nov. 10?

The Color Rush uniforms we began seeing for Thursday games last year will return, so it will be interesting to see what that might look like for the Ravens. Truthfully, the all-black uniforms are no longer special at this point, so what about purple jerseys and purple pants for that nationally-televised game?

Let’s hope the mustard-colored pants from last year never see the light of day again.

Would Cleveland wear orange jerseys and orange pants to go with orange helmets or would the Browns sport an all-brown getup? Remembering how ugly their new uniforms looked last year, do we really want to know?

4. How do we feel about the Ravens playing in the afternoon on Christmas Day?

It’s probably just me being a whiny sportswriter — to be clear, I do love my job — but do we need multiple NFL games on Christmas? It was one thing for the Ravens to play on Christmas night 11 years ago, but an afternoon game is intrusive for many people wanting to celebrate the holiday with their families — in Pittsburgh or Baltimore.

Do you really want Aunt Edna bugging you about when you’re ever going to get married or have kids while you’re trying to watch Joe Flacco drive the Ravens the length of the field in the fourth quarter?

For Ravens fans unhappy about only having two prime-time games in 2016, this one practically counts as a third since it will be a nationally-televised game on NFL Network.

5. Why are the Ravens finishing the regular season in Cincinnati again?

Many are complaining about the Ravens now having 10 of their last 11 Monday night games on the road when they travel to New England on Dec. 12, but going to Paul Brown Stadium to conclude the regular season for the fifth time in six years is ridiculous.

Imagine the uproar if the Ravens had to go to Heinz Field for Week 17 every year. How irritated would Pittsburgh be to go to Baltimore or Cincinnati to conclude the season on an annual basis?

The Bengals’ losing past still resonates with many, but they’ve beaten the Ravens five straight times and are the only team in the AFC North to have made the playoffs in each of the last five years. The Monday night thing is quirky, but at least Baltimore has had plenty of prime-time home games over that time.

The Ravens shouldn’t have to go to Cincinnati for the final week every year.

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Ravens to play two prime-time games as part of 2016 schedule

Posted on 14 April 2016 by Luke Jones

Coming off the first losing season of the John Harbaugh era, the Ravens will be featured in just two prime-time games in 2016, but they will be featured in a Christmas Day game against rival Pittsburgh.

Baltimore opens its 21st season at home against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Sept. 11 and will play six of its first seven games against teams that failed to qualify for the playoffs a year ago. It’s a favorable start to the schedule after the Ravens played five of their first seven games on the road last season — four of them played out west.

The Ravens will host the Cleveland Browns for a Thursday night game on Nov. 10 and will travel to Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots in a Monday night game on Dec. 12. They have not hosted a Monday night game since 2012 and will now have played 10 of their last 11 Monday contests on the road.

Despite having only two prime-time games — their lowest scheduled total since 2006 — the Ravens will take part in one of only two games scheduled for Christmas Day when they travel to Heinz Field to take on the Steelers. This will mark the first time Baltimore has played on Dec. 25 since hosting Minnesota on Christmas night in 2005.

That game will be the first of two AFC North road games to conclude the regular season as the defending division champion Cincinnati Bengals will host the Ravens in Week 17. It will be a very challenging final quarter of the season with road games against New England, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati and the only home game over the span coming against Philadelphia on Dec. 18.

The 2016 schedule certainly provides convenient options for fans to see the Ravens on the road as they play both the NFC East and the AFC East this season.

The bye will fall in Week 8.

The Ravens will play six games against playoff teams from last season: Pittsburgh (twice), Cincinnati (twice), New England, and Washington. Baltimore has eight games against opponents who finished below .500 in 2015: Cleveland (twice), Miami, Oakland, Philadelphia, Jacksonville, the New York Giants, and Dallas.

For now, 13 of the Ravens’ 16 regular-season games are scheduled for 1 p.m. starts, but many of those games are subject to flexible scheduling (see below).

2016 SCHEDULE

Sunday, Sept. 11 vs. Buffalo Bills — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: Fresh off an invitation to the Pro Bowl, former Ravens backup Tyrod Taylor returning to Baltimore should make for an interesting opening week.

Sunday, Sept. 18 at Cleveland Browns — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: They’re still the Browns, but the Ravens needed a blocked field goal return for a touchdown last year to avoid being swept by Cleveland for the first time since 2007.

Sunday, Sept. 25 at Jacksonville Jaguars — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: It’s hard to believe this was one of the more compelling rivalries of the Ravens’ early years, but the Jaguars won at M&T Bank Stadium last year and have some promising talent.

Sunday, Oct. 2 vs. Oakland Raiders — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: The Raiders being on the scheduled used to feel like a homecoming game, but that’s no longer the case with a young and talented roster that now includes ex-Raven Kelechi Osemele.

Sunday, Oct. 9 vs. Washington Redskins — 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
Skinny: The Ravens have lost two games to Washington in their 20-year history and have gone on to win the Super Bowl in each of those seasons, but both of those defeats came on the road.

Sunday, Oct. 16 at New York Giants — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: The Giants have a new head coach in Ben McAdoo and spent a ton of money on their defense, but time is running short for Eli Manning to win his third Super Bowl.

Sunday, Oct. 23 at New York Jets — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: A trip to MetLife Stadium for a second straight week is an interesting scheduling quirk, but Baltimore has won eight straight games against the Jets.

 Sunday, Oct. 30 — BYE

Sunday, Nov. 6 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: Mike Tomlin’s team is the early favorite to win the division, but the Ravens took plenty of satisfaction in sweeping Pittsburgh last year in the midst of a difficult season.

Thursday, Nov. 10 vs. Cleveland Browns — 8:25 p.m. (NFL Network)
Skinny: Former Ravens quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson was a good hire by Cleveland, but it remains to be seen whether ownership will give him enough time to succeed there.

Sunday, Nov. 20 at Dallas Cowboys — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: The Ravens closed Texas Stadium with a victory over the Cowboys in 2008 and will hope for a similar result in their first regular-season trip to the massive AT&T Stadium.

Sunday, Nov. 27 vs. Cincinnati Bengals — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: The Ravens have dropped five straight to Cincinnati, but you can’t help but feel last year was the Bengals’ best chance to finally win their first playoff game in 25 years.

Sunday, Dec. 4 vs. Miami Dolphins — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: After traveling to Miami in each of the last three seasons, the Ravens will welcome the warm-weather Dolphins and new head coach Adam Gase to Baltimore in early December.

Monday, Dec. 12 at New England Patriots — 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Skinny: It was strange not seeing these teams meet last year after running into each other in the regular season or playoffs in the six previous seasons.

Sunday, Dec. 18 Philadelphia Eagles — 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
Skinny: The only tie in Ravens history came against the Eagles in a 10-10 final in 1997 that had fans from both cities arguing which team was worse as they exited Memorial Stadium.

Sunday, Dec. 25 at Pittsburgh Steelers — 4:30 p.m. (NFL Network)
Skinny: These teams aren’t scheduled to play a prime-time game for the first time since the 2006 season, but a rare meeting on Christmas Day still qualifies as a high-profile showdown.

Sunday, Jan. 1 at Cincinnati Bengals — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: Is there an NFL bylaw requiring the Ravens to close the regular season at Paul Brown Stadium as they will now have done in five of the last six years?

Notes: In a move that was initiated two years ago, flexible scheduling can now be applied in Weeks 5 through 9. During that period, flexible scheduling can be used in no more than two weeks by moving a Sunday afternoon game into prime time and moving the Sunday night game to the afternoon.

Another recently-implemented wrinkle will be a select number of games being “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring some games to wider audiences.

Flexible scheduling will still be used in Weeks 10 through 15 and Week 17 — Week 16 is locked in due to the Christmas holiday — as it has been in past years. In Weeks 10-15, the master schedule lists games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the originally-scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to an afternoon time.

Flexible scheduling cannot be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday, or Monday nights.

A scheduling change would be announced at least 12 days before the game. For Week 17, the Sunday night game is announced no later than six days prior to Jan. 1.

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Major trade at top of draft only helps Ravens at No. 6

Posted on 14 April 2016 by Luke Jones

A colossal shakeup at the top of the 2016 draft should improve the Ravens’ chances of landing an elite player with the sixth overall pick.

Thursday morning brought news of the Tennessee Titans trading the first overall pick to Los Angeles, who gave up a king’s ransom to move up from 15th overall. The Rams didn’t make such a blockbuster trade not to take a quarterback — whether it’s Jared Goff of Cal or North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz — so the trickle-down effect will only help the rest of the teams in the top 10.

Do the Cleveland Browns take a quarterback second overall as many believe they will? If so, the Ravens would be guaranteed to have their choice of at least two of the following players at No. 6: Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil, Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey, Ohio State edge defender Joey Bosa, Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner, and UCLA linebacker Myles Jack.

Of course, the Browns taking a quarterback isn’t a guarantee and they are reportedly willing to trade the pick, but the Ravens didn’t want to be in a position where all five aforementioned names were off the board when they were on the clock. Now, general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens brass can rest easier knowing at least one of those top prospects will still be available when they are slotted to make their earliest selection since the 2000 draft.

All it took was another quarterback-needy team jumping into the fray.

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Ravens “excited to help” Pitta with comeback attempt

Posted on 13 April 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens officially announced a restructured contract with veteran tight end Dennis Pitta on Wednesday.

Terms of the revamped deal were not announced, but it includes a reduction of his scheduled $5 million salary for the 2016 with the opportunity to earn money back through incentives. Pitta still hopes to play again after a second devastating hip injury suffered on Sept. 21, 2014, but the restructure limits the financial risk for the Ravens to allow him to pursue that comeback.

“Dennis wants to continue his playing career, and we want to give him that opportunity,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement released by the team. “We have reworked his contract, and we’re excited to help him with his comeback. Everyone here wants Dennis to succeed.”

Pitta signed a five-year, $32 million contract that included $16 million guaranteed in 2014, but he appeared in just three games that season before suffering a second fracture and dislocation of his right hip on a play in which he wasn’t touched. The 30-year-old injured his hip for the first time on July 27, 2013, but he returned to play in the final four games that season.

The 2010 fourth-round pick returned to the practice field last October for a 21-day window to see if he was ready to be activated, but he ultimately remained on the physically unable to perform list all season. Pitta acknowledged at the time that his hip hadn’t responded as well as he’d hoped, but he has never given up on the notion of eventually returning to the field after appearing in just seven games since Super Bowl XLVII.

“I am thankful for this opportunity to continue my career,” Pitta said in a statement. “I’m excited to get back to work with my teammates and for this organization. Physically, I feel great and am ready to begin building toward a successful 2016 season.”

Pitta has recorded 138 receptions for 1,369 yards and 11 touchdowns in his regular-season career. In six career postseason games, he has collected 21 receptions for 233 yards and four touchdowns.

In addition to waiving Chase Ford a day earlier, the Ravens also parted ways with Harold Spears on Wednesday, leaving them with seven tight ends on the 90-man offseason roster: Pitta, Benjamin Watson, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle, Konrad Reuland, and converted wide receiver Darren Waller.

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