Tag Archive | "ozzie"

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Ravens Add More Depth

Posted on 04 May 2009 by Neal Bortmes

The signing of John Beck is yet another great off-season move by Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens’ front office.  He presumably will be in open competition with Troy Smith for the backup quarterback slot.  Personally I don’t think Troy Smith will ever amount to more than a rushing threat from under center.  He is best used in limited situations such as the en vogue “wildcat” formation and should hope to have a Seneca Wallace type career in the NFL.

 

 

This move adds to the already impressive amount of depth the Ravens have been accumulating over the winter.  I think they learned their lesson from the past couple of years as injuries have really affected the team’s plans and in some ways their performance.  The only other position were I think the Ravens could add more depth would be receiver because if Derrick Mason hadn’t soldiered through his injury the Ravens would not have made it to the AFC Championship last year, and we have not as of yet improved that area.  Something tells me that Ozzie is probably working on that as I am writing this.

 

 

As for Beck he absolutely has promise, he was the 40th pick overall in 2007 and has 5 games of starting experience, albeit with a one win squad.  If my recollection serves me I think the Ravens were highly interested in Beck that year but the Dolphins grabbed him prior to the Ravens second round selection.  In any event I am certain the Ravens at least scouted him coming out of college because they seemingly scoured the globe in search of a quarterback prior to the arrival of Joe Flacco.  Of course Cam Cameron is familiar with Beck having been the Dolphins’ head coach when he was drafted, and it is almost a certainty he had a hand in bringing Beck to town.

 

 

I honestly feel Beck has the ability to develop as the number two guy with no pressure.  I could actually see him being a starter somewhere in the future.  The problem with Beck however, is that he is going to be 28 going into this season but doesn’t have the experience to match his age due to going on a Mormon Mission.  He started as a true freshman, at the ripe old age of 22, for BYU and he earned high praise during his senior season as he was a Davey O’Brien Award Finalist and was a Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award finalist as well.   

 

 

It all boils down to another great move by the astute minds in the Ravens’ front office.  In Oz we trust…. Go Ravens!

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Draft Grade For The Ravens

Posted on 28 April 2009 by Neal Bortmes

Immediately following the draft I thought the Ravens did a poor job, and I was very upset with their effort for several reasons.  First I thought that Ozzie was swindled out of a fifth round pick when he traded up three spots to draft Michael Oher.  He gave up a 5th round pick to move up from 26 to 23 when the Eagles only gave up a 6th round pick to move up from 21 to 19.  The Eagles selected Jeremy Maclin, who could be a steal considering his appearance among the top 10 in most mock drafts.  According to the NFL draft pick value chart Ozzie gave up 700 pts. (pick 26) and 27.6 pts. (pick 162) for 760 pts. (pick 23) for a total gain of 32.4 pts.  While Tom Heckert the Eagles’ GM gained a total of 60.6 pts. when he traded the 21st pick (800 pts.) and 195th pick (14.4 pts.) to get the 19th pick (875 pts.).  This obvious discrepancy had me miffed for a while.  I also had wanted them to trade down to the second round to get more picks a la the Patriots (who I thought had one of the best drafts) because the best value was clearly in the top half of that round. 

 

 In the second round the Ravens selected Paul Kruger DE out of Utah.  I think he is an undersized DE for the NFL (6’4” 263 lbs.) and it appears as if he is a project due to his lack of elite speed (5 sec. 40) and elite strength (24 reps at 225).  His selection was a surprise to me considering he is going to be a 23 year old rookie with only two years of college experience (in the Mountain West).  Kruger has some character concerns having been severely stabbed at a house party last year, one to which the cops were called for other infractions only to find out about the stabbing after they arrived.  Kruger also has only one kidney having lost his due to a car accident as a child which could present significant health concerns in the future.  I thought the Ravens should have traded down to acquire more picks or possibly selected Jarron Gilbert who at 6’5” and 288 lbs. is bigger, stronger, and faster than Kruger although he is a project as well coming out of a weak football conference (WAC) too.

 

 The Ravens’ 3rd round selection had me puzzled to say the least.  Lardarius Webb is from a non-FBS school in Nicholls State and he is considered a tweener, which means that the Ravens have to basically create a position for him as he lacks the ideal size-speed ratio to play corner or safety in the NFL.  He too has character concerns which caused him to be dismissed from Southern Miss.  One would have thought the Ravens learned their lesson on lightly regarded defensive back prospects from small schools with the recent failure of David Pittman whom they selected in the third round of the 2006 draft.  My first thought was that the brain trust is more eager to prove they can successfully draft a small school DB than to make a sound third round choice.  Typically the Ravens do extremely well in the first round and later rounds (4-7), but they more often than not select busts in the second and third rounds.  D.J. Moore was still available and had a better grade according to the experts on ESPN and the NFL network as well as more production at a higher level in college.

 

 I was also surprised that the Ravens did not select a kicker in the draft considering they let Matt Stover go in the off-season.  The selection of Davon Drew was the most perplexing potential blunder because James Casey and Cornelius Ingram, players with superior measureables and production, were still on the board.  For all of these reasons I would have given the Ravens a C on Sunday night, but after a day or so I have tried to reexamine the Ravens’ effort. 

 

 Upon further review I think the Ravens did an adequate job.  Their best decision by far was to trade up to select Michael Oher, although I still think they gave up too much when compared to the Eagles deal; however New England is a shrewder trading partner than the new Browns’ front office (Mankok) so one may have to expect they would ask more in a trade.  Oher has the potential to be a rock at right tackle for years, and if he pans out he will solidify a very young and talented offensive line for the foreseeable future.  He was rated higher than 23rd on many teams’ draft boards and I saw him in the top ten in several mock drafts so they got tremendous value with his selection.

 

Kruger is still a toss-up to me but when I listened to Eric DeCosta described him on the Comcast Morning Show with Drew Forrester I had a better feeling about him.  I suppose he is a high motor guy in the mold of Michael McCrary but he still needs to gain size to be effective on the end.  His age and injury history are also concerns.  The Ravens should have moved back from the second round at that point to grab a different pass rusher such as Gilbert, Michael Johnson, or Lawrence Sidbury.  http://www.ksl.com/?nid=635&sid=6285559&autostart=y  I am still not impressed with Webb having further investigated him although Mel Kiper likened him to Bob Sanders.  If he can play as effectively as Sanders then he would be a steal but I think the David Pittman scenario is more likely.  The selection of Davon Drew still has me scratching my head in light of the talent still on the board.  Eric DeCosta mentioned in his interview that several players did not pass the Ravens’ physical so I can only hope he was explaining the reason for not taking Casey or Ingram.  If nothing else the Ravens added to their depth at DB, rush linebacker/DE, and TE.  Davon Drew could provide insurance if Quinn Sypniewski cannot recover properly from his season ending injury of last year.  http://beta.sling.com/video/show/136305/12/Draft-Prospect:-TE–Davon-Drew  Jason Phillips was a very good value pick in the fifth round as he was extremely productive for a very good defensive football team.  He should help fill the void left by the departure of Bart Scott, although he is probably a rotational player at best.  Phillips is recovering from a meniscus tear he suffered at the combine.   

 

 

 

I really think the steal of the Ravens’ draft has to be Cedric Peerman.  Peerman had a very good season for a terrible Virginia team last year, he is also said to be one of Al Groh’s favorite players and a high character guy.  He has some injury concerns but is a tough runner who had the fastest 40 time at the combine of any RB.  I think even with the Ravens’ depth at RB he will make the team.  The Ravens’ draft has been made stronger by their additions of rookie free agents. http://video.yahoo.com/watch/4853302/12935650

 

 

 

 

Their signing of Eron Riley is particularly intriguing because he has very similar measurables to Heyward-Bey, as he is taller (6’3” compared to 6’1 5/8”) and almost as fast with a 4.3 second 40 time.  Riley does need to add bulk and gain strength, but he also had more receptions (61 to 42) and TD’s (8 to 5) than Heyward-Bey last year on an arguably worse football team in the same conference.  The second excellent pick-up was obviously Graham Gano as the reining Lou Groza award winner he lead the nation in field goals per game (2.18) as well as leading all kickers in points per game (9.5), and his 5 made field goals from beyond 50 yards were the most last year.  He will compete with Steve Hauschka to be the starting kicker; however he could also serve as a backup punter having also punted for Florida State last year.  He is believed to be the only punter ever to be named the MVP of a bowl game when he was named the Most Valuable Player in the Champs Sports Bowl.  http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/Graham-Gano-Cantonment-28523  http://video.yahoo.com/watch/4853301/12935654  

 

 

The Ravens were able to address their needs for a place kicker and a speedy wideout through free agency so in retrospect I think the Ravens earned a solid B from me.  They traded up to get Michael Oher which was a fantastic move and they were still able to recoup another pick.  I know that the Ravens’ front office has far more experience scouting and selecting players than I do but if you are still reading this blog than you care about my opinion as well, plus the draft is so much fun because of the debate it creates.  As always only time will tell how the Ravens fared in this year’s draft.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Posted on 24 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s my hope: Brandon Pettigrew

Here’s my “prediction”: Rey Maualuga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks!

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If you want to know how the Ravens draft…

Posted on 23 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

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

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Just Say No To Anqaun Boldin

Posted on 22 April 2009 by Neal Bortmes

The Ravens should not trade for Anquan Boldin. Yes he is a dynamic receiver who can score touchdowns, I know because he helped me win my fantasy league last year.  Boldin suffered a broken jaw and came back to play last season, so we know he is tough, and he accumulated 89 grabs for 1,038 yards and 11 TD’s despite missing time due to the gruesome injury.  He hasn’t proven to be a malcontent like other big name receivers, but he is very envious of his teammate Larry Fitzgerald’s contract and thinks he should be similarly compensated.  Boldin is a strong guy with a lot of YAC potential and I am sure that Cam Cameron could use him in very creative ways.

 

 

The crux of the situation is the Cardinal’s price tag for acquiring him.  Somehow they have decided that every general manager in the league is as foolhardy as Jerry Jones and they are seeking a 1st and 3rd round pick similar to what the Cowboys gave up last year in their trade for Roy Williams.  That move may pay dividends for the ‘Boys this year but the returns are not in as of yet, and I think that a similar move by the Ravens may be unpredictable as well.  The Ravens made it to the AFC Championship game last year with the core group of guys currently on the roster, and Ozzie Newsom has actually hit on more first round picks than he has missed during his tenure with the Ravens.  Which is something very few, if any executives can say during that same time.  Personally I would rather take the chance that Ozzie will find a gem, regardless of position, at 26 who will play for the team for ten years, than trade for Boldin who has about five high level years left.  Boldin is approaching 30 which is generally the start of decline in many players.

 

 

There are other potential hurdles in the Ravens’ quest for Boldin, including their current salary cap situation.  If the Ravens do trade for him they will have to cut some other players in order to sign him to the extension worth the type of money he desires.  This will reduce the depth that Ozzie has worked hard to build in the off-season through free agency.  If the Ravens could somehow sweet-talk the Cardinals into accepting a second round pick and either Willis McGahee or Todd Heap (or even better both and a lower pick) then they could clear enough cap space to sign Boldin.  Trading these players however also has potentially negative salary cap implications.

 

 

If the Ravens were to sign Boldin for the money he expects than it will surely create problems in the locker room.  Terrell Suggs has wanted a contract extension for what he perceives as his market value for two years now.  During that time he has never complained or whined openly to the media, asked to be traded, or become a distraction in any way to his team, the same cannot be said for Boldin.  In my estimation if the Ravens trade for Boldin and give him what he is asking for then Suggs will have a legitimate beef with the organization.  He has done everything asked of him but if he is slapped in the face like that I feel a divided contentious looker room may result.

 

 

Suggs will not be the only Raven veteran who will be dismayed by this course of events.  Derrick Mason will also assuredly be upset because he too would like a contract extension, and like Suggs he has been a consummate professional in his time here.  Mason also played through a significant injury last year having suffered a torn labrum and scapula in week 10; however he was sill able to total 80 receptions for 1037 yards and 5 TD’s.  Mason’s age (35) and his injury may soon catch up with him but he has seemed to improve each year of his career with the Ravens. 

 

 

The Ravens need to upgrade their receiving corps, preferably with a go-to-guy who can stretch the field, but Anquan Boldin is not the answer.  The problems I have enumerated weigh heavily in the favor of his acquisition as a negative prospect going forward and unless things change in the very near future it is simply a bad idea.  The Ravens should continue to build through the draft and see how things transpire before they go all willy-nilly and trade away their future for a bunch of potential problems.  Last but certainly not least remember that Haloti Ngata is going to also need a new contract soon and he will surely command top dollar.

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To Draft or Not To Draft

Posted on 17 April 2009 by Nicholas Miskelly

To Draft or Not To Draft 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Posted on 01 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

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

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

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

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

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Torry Holt released by Rams: Are Ravens interested?

Posted on 13 March 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

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

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

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Ray Lewis and Matt Birk both in the Ravens’ fold

Posted on 04 March 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

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

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

For Immediate Release

RAVENS AGREE TO TERMS WITH LEWIS, BIRK

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

LB Ray Lewis will remain a Raven.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ravens release Chris McAlister this afternoon

Posted on 16 February 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

As has been suspected, reported and speculated, the Chris McAlister era in Baltimore has come to an end. ProFootballTalk.com first reported that McAlister will be released. His $8 million base salary was too much for Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh to stomach. His antics at the team’s hotel in Miami were legendary and it was no secret that Harbaugh thought the team was better off without him. And, of course, the team came four minutes away from going to the Super Bowl without him.

Newsome met with McAlister earlier today in Owings Mills and told him that he would be released.

Here is the Ravens’ official press release:

Feb. 16, 2009

For Immediate Release

McALISTER

The Baltimore Ravens terminated the contract of CB Chris McAlister this afternoon, it was announced by Ozzie Newsome, the team’s general manager and executive vice president.

McAlister, a three-time Pro Bowl standout, played 10 seasons for the Ravens after being selected in the first round (10th pick) in the 1999 draft. A starter on the 2000 Super Bowl championship Baltimore team, “C-Mac” produced 26 career interceptions, good for third place on the franchise’s all-time list (behind S Ed Reed, 43, and LB Ray Lewis, 28). McAlister also scored seven career touchdowns – six by interceptions and one on a missed field goal return, which set a then-NFL record for longest play (107 yards).

McAlister, who will be 32 in June, played in six games in 2008, starting five, before being placed on Injured Reserve with a knee injury on Nov. 11. Before being hurt, he stole three passes and made 19 tackles (17 solo).

“First, we want to thank Chris for all he did for the Ravens in the past 10 years,” Newsome explained. “He was a major contributor to many big wins, including the Super Bowl. To play the type of defense we have used here, you have to have corners who can cover one-on-one. He was one of the best at that for us. He was physical, and he could run with the best.”

“All of us who had the opportunity to coach Chris for the first time this season have an appreciation for all the good things he did for this team through the years,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’ll be remembered by us and the fans as one of the best to ever play for the Ravens. He’s a tough guy and loves football. He’ll play again, and he’ll play well.”

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