Tag Archive | "Ravens"

Former Ravens safety Stewart finds home in Denver

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Former Ravens safety Stewart finds home in Denver

Posted on 13 March 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens’ free-agent exodus continued Friday with safety Darian Stewart becoming the latest to depart by signing a two-year contract with the Denver Broncos.

Stewart started 14 of 16 games last season after signing a one-year, $1.3 million contract with Baltimore last season. The 26-year-old was drawn to the Ravens because of his relationship with former secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo, who worked with Stewart when he was the head coach of the St. Louis Rams.

Stewart collected 53 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble, and three pass breakups during the regular season and secured an interception and a key pass breakup in the wild-card win over Pittsburgh. He joins defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (Detroit), wide receiver Torrey Smith (San Francisco), linebacker Pernell McPhee (Chicago), tight end Owen Daniels (Denver), and quarterback Tyrod Taylor (Buffalo) as Ravens players to depart this past week.

Though considered one of the more reliable in a group of safeties that saw playing time in 2014, Stewart’s loss isn’t considered a major one with the Ravens needing to improve at the position next to starter Will Hill. The problem will be finding that upgrade as this year’s draft class is not impressive beyond Alabama safety Landon Collins, who most expect to long be off the board by the time the Ravens pick 26th overall in the first round.

Free-agent safeties remaining on the board include Ron Parker of Kansas City, Louis Delmas of Miami, and Seattle’s Jeron Johnson.

With the Broncos losing free-agent safety Rahim Moore to Houston, head coach Gary Kubiak targeted Stewart after watching him play in Baltimore this past season.

In other free agency news from Friday, former Buffalo tight end Scott Chandler elected to sign a contract with the New England Patriots despite some interest from the Ravens.

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Ravens, Pro Bowl running back Forsett reach three-year deal

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Ravens, Pro Bowl running back Forsett reach three-year deal

Posted on 12 March 2015 by Luke Jones

After numerous flings in his seven-year NFL career, Justin Forsett is finally out of the “friend zone.”

The Pro Bowl running back agreed to a three-year deal worth a reported $9 million with the Ravens on Thursday, which ensures a continuation of the best story of the 2014 season. After signing a one-year, $730,000 deal with Baltimore last April, Forsett rushed for a career-high 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns to lead the league’s eighth-ranked rushing offense.

The 2008 seventh-round pick from Cal had repeatedly expressed a desire to remain with the Ravens after he took over the starting job from the disgraced Ray Rice, who saw his contract terminated the day after the 2014 season opener. Displaying good patience and vision, Forsett led all NFL running backs with a 5.4 yards per carry average and 17 runs of 20 or more yards, which also set the single-season franchise record.

“I’m as hungry as ever at this point,” Forsett said. “Throughout my whole career, people have been telling me what I can’t do, even from Pop Warner to high school to college and now in the pros, even in free agency. Throughout my whole career they have been saying, ‘OK, you’re too short, you’re too slow, you’re too small.’ Now, throughout free agency I would hear, ‘He’s a little too old.’ There’s always something.

“I’m hungry to go out and show that I’m only going to get better with time.”

Those numbers earned the longtime NFL journeyman his first career trip to the Pro Bowl after previous stops in Seattle (twice), Indianapolis, Houston, and Jacksonville.

General manager Ozzie Newsome cited a lack of “wear and tear” and a reputation for mentoring a number of young running backs at the “State of the Ravens” press conference last month as reasons why the organization would try to re-sign Forsett. The move comes after a disappointing start to free agency for the Ravens with wide receiver Torrey Smith, tight end Owen Daniels, and linebacker Pernell McPhee signing elsewhere and five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata being traded to Detroit.

Forsett acknowledged there were times during the process when he was uncertain whether a return to the Ravens was in the fold, but the veteran back ultimately wound up where he was “most comfortable” and said the decision was a “pretty easy call” in the end.

“He fits well into what we do on offense, and he handles all parts of the job effectively, including blocking and receiving,” Newsome said in a statement. “Justin is a tremendous leader by example and willing to step up as both a leader and mentor. He is truly a success story, and we’re happy he’ll continue that with us. He earned his new contract.”

His contract is also much more affordable than the five-year, $42 million deal with $21 million guaranteed that Philadelphia awarded former Dallas running back DeMarco Murray on Thursday. Murray led the NFL with 1,845 rushing yards while averaging 4.7 yards per carry last year to Forsett’s 5.4 yards per carry clip for Baltimore.

Forsett’s re-signing doesn’t prohibit the Ravens from exploring young running backs in this year’s draft, but they now know they can count on the veteran to lead a group that includes 2014 fourth-round pick Lorenzo Taliaferro, veteran Bernard Pierce, and former practice-squad member Fitz Toussaint.

Nearly a year to the day that he was released by Jacksonville and pondered whether his career might be over, Forsett has finally found the stability and commitment from the Ravens that he’s long been searching for throughout his career. With a key piece now in place, Newsome can turn to building the rest of a roster that’s sustained a number of key losses this week.

“I just think back on where I was this point last year. It’s just a blessing,” Forsett said. “I thank God every day for this opportunity to come out and do what I love to do, then be able to find a home, be able to play somewhere where they want me, appreciate me, and [I am] just excited.”

 

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Ravens backup quarterback Taylor off to Buffalo

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Ravens backup quarterback Taylor off to Buffalo

Posted on 12 March 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens will have a new quarterback backing up starter Joe Flacco in 2015 after Tyrod Taylor agreed to a deal with the Buffalo Bills on Thursday.

His departure was not unexpected after head coach John Harbaugh acknowledged last offseason that the Ravens wanted to see better play from Taylor. The 2011 six-round pick out of Virginia Tech has never started an NFL game playing behind the durable Flacco and did not even attempt a pass last season.

In four seasons with the Ravens, Taylor completed 19 of 35 passes for 199 yards and two interceptions and rushed 27 times for 136 yards and a touchdown.

Baltimore is expected to bring in a veteran to compete with 2014 sixth-round choice Keith Wenning, who spent the entire 2014 season on the practice squad. The Ravens have shown over the last four years with Taylor that they don’t want to spend significant money on a backup for Flacco, who’s never missed a game in his seven-year career.

During the 2014 preseason, Wenning completed 10 of 17 passes for 140 yards. The 6-foot-3 Ball State product doesn’t have a big-time arm, but he completed 63 percent of his passes during his collegiate career.

Veteran quarterbacks currently on the open market include Jason Campbell, Matt Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson, Colt McCoy, Matt Moore, Christian Ponder, and Michael Vick.

 

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Could former Bills tight end Chandler be match for Ravens?

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Could former Bills tight end Chandler be match for Ravens?

Posted on 12 March 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens need to address the tight end position following the departure of Owen Daniels, but few appealing options exist on the open market and even in this year’s draft, making the release of Buffalo Bills veteran Scott Chandler something to monitor.

The 29-year-old is far from a superstar, but he caught 43 or more passes in each of his last three seasons in Buffalo and would likely command a price that’s suitable with general manager Ozzie Newsome’s limited amount of cap space to address multiple needs. The Bills cut the 2007 fourth-round pick Wednesday to clear more cap space for their full-court press to sign free-agent tight end Charles Clay, who received the transition tag from Miami before the start of free agency. Because Chandler was released, his signing would not count against the compensatory pick formula, which is typically a major plus for the Ravens.

In 2014, Chandler caught 47 passes for 497 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games. Daniels made 48 receptions for 527 yards and four touchdowns in 15 games for the Ravens this past season.

Chandler was scheduled to make $1.95 million in base salary in 2015. Considered a strong receiver, the 6-foot-7, 260-pound tight end is not regarded as a particularly strong blocker. If the Ravens need any help in recruiting him, Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda was a teammate of Chandler’s at the University of Iowa and were part of the same draft class.

The Ravens’ top two healthy tight ends on their current offseason roster are 2014 third-round pick Crockett Gillmore and former practice-squad member Phillip Supernaw. The status of veteran Dennis Pitta remains in doubt for 2015 and beyond after he suffered two serious right hip injuries in a 14-month period.

Based on many pundits’ opinions, there aren’t a slew of talented tight ends in this year’s draft, making it clear that the Ravens should add a veteran to help replace Daniels’ production if they want to feel better about the position going into training camp.

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Ngata trade puts Ravens in enviable 2015 draft position

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Ngata trade puts Ravens in enviable 2015 draft position

Posted on 11 March 2015 by Luke Jones

Moving beyond the initial disappointment of trading one of the greatest players in franchise history, the Ravens should feel good about the return they received in trading defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to the Detroit Lions.

Baltimore’s salary cap issues were no secret to anyone, so general manager Ozzie Newsome fetching fourth-round and fifth-round choices in this year’s draft for a 31-year-old entering the final year of a contract paying him $8.5 million this season is a strong haul, especially when most expected Ngata to be released if the Ravens couldn’t sign him to an extension. Mid-round picks shouldn’t be dismissed for an organization that’s seen two recent fifth-round choices — Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee — receive big deals in free agency in the last two offseasons after strong runs in Baltimore.

The Ravens are now projected to have no fewer than 10 selections in this year’s draft as they currently hold seven picks and are expected to be rewarded at least three compensatory picks later this month. Newsome has his original draft choices in the first four rounds, the two picks from the Lions, and a sixth-round selection acquired from the Dallas Cowboys in last summer’s Rolando McClain trade.

Newsome dealt his original 2015 fifth-round pick to Tampa Bay for center Jeremy Zuttah last year and his 2015 sixth-round pick to Cleveland in order to draft wide receiver Michael Campanaro last year. The Ravens also traded a seventh-round choice to Detroit as part of the Ngata trade.

With obvious needs at wide receiver, tight end, running back, and in the secondary and just under $10 million in cap space to address them, Newsome and the Ravens will need to seize their opportunities in the draft beginning on April 30.

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Ravens reportedly re-sign cornerback Levine to two-year deal

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Ravens reportedly re-sign cornerback Levine to two-year deal

Posted on 11 March 2015 by Luke Jones

After electing not to tender restricted free agent Anthony Levine ahead of Tuesday’s deadline, the Ravens have reportedly re-signed the cornerback and special-teams standout.

The sides received an agreement on a two-year deal, according to The Sun. After serving strictly in a special-teams capacity in his first two seasons with the Ravens, Levine was thrown into the secondary mix after a plethora of injuries at the cornerback position last season.

The 27-year-old appeared in all 16 games including three starts and finished the season as Baltimore’s No. 3 cornerback behind Lardarius Webb and Rashaan Melvin. He collected 29 tackles and four pass breakups while also finishing third on the team with six special-teams tackles.

The deal is reportedly worth $2.4 million, which includes a $400,000 signing bonus and incentives, which averages out to a lower annual salary than the lowest tender of $1.542 million for restricted free agents. This continues the Ravens’ pattern of awarding more affordable two-year deals to certain restricted free agents such as defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi, linebacker Albert McClellan, and long snapper Morgan Cox in recent years.

Baltimore gave a second-round tender ($2.356 million) to restricted free agent kicker Justin Tucker and the low tender to safety Will Hill earlier this week.

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Torrey Smith joins ex-Raven Boldin in San Francisco

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Torrey Smith joins ex-Raven Boldin in San Francisco

Posted on 10 March 2015 by Luke Jones

After teaming together to beat San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII, former Ravens wide receivers Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin have reunited as members of the 49ers.

As expected, the 26-year-old Smith agreed to a reported five-year, $40 million contract that includes $22 million guaranteed after announcing Sunday that he would not be returning to the Ravens. Apparently, it was his former teammate who helped recruit Smith to San Francisco as the pair remained friends after Boldin was traded to the 49ers two years ago. Smith also has a relationship with 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, a fellow University of Maryland alum.

After reportedly turning down a five-year, $35 million offer from the Ravens before the 2014 campaign, Smith made out well in free agency despite a down season in which he caught only 49 passes for 767 yards. It remains unclear whether a similar offer from the Ravens was still on the table considering the organization’s significant salary cap problems stemming in part from the release of Ray Rice last September.

Smith will provide the 49ers the deep threat in the passing game they’ve sorely lacked for a number of years.

Meanwhile, the Ravens will need to replace their biggest draft success at the wide receiver position in franchise history after selecting Smith in the second round of the 2011 draft. He finished his run in Baltimore ranking second in franchise history in touchdown receptions and third in receiving yards.

Baltimore is scheduled to visit Smith, Boldin, and the 49ers during the 2015 regular season.

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Veteran tight end Daniels follows Kubiak to Denver

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Veteran tight end Daniels follows Kubiak to Denver

Posted on 10 March 2015 by Luke Jones

Former Ravens tight end Owen Daniels will reunite again with Gary Kubiak again after agreeing to a three-year contract with the Denver Broncos on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old veteran followed Kubiak to Baltimore last year after they had spent eight years together in Houston and will now catch passes from future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. The deal is worth a total of $12 million, according to The Denver Post.

Daniels’ departure leaves the Ravens lacking at the tight end position with their only healthy options with experience on the current roster being 2014 third-round pick Crockett Gillmore and former practice-squad member Phillip Supernaw. The status of Dennis Pitta has yet to be determined for the 2015 season after he suffered a second serious hip injury in 14 months last September, but the Ravens cannot count on his availability.

In 15 games last season, Daniels caught 48 passes for 527 yards and four touchdowns while serving as a reliable option for quarterback Joe Flacco. Head coach John Harbaugh expressed hope last month that Daniels would return to the Ravens.

“We’ve talked to Owen, and Owen says he wants to come back,” Harbaugh said. “I’m sure that he and his agent will talk about what’s best for them financially, and every other way, but he’s very interested in coming back here.”

Of course, with the Ravens’ limited salary cap space and Daniels’ history with Kubiak, Broncos offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, and Broncos tight end coach Brian Pariani, Denver was the natural landing spot for the two-time Pro Bowl selection.

The Ravens will see Daniels in 2015 as they visit Denver during the regular season.

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Ravens trade five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ngata to Detroit

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Ravens trade five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ngata to Detroit

Posted on 10 March 2015 by Luke Jones

A nine-year run that included five Pro Bowl selections and a Super Bowl championship wasn’t enough to continue a relationship between the Ravens and longtime defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.

The organization announced the trade of Ngata to the Detroit Lions on Tuesday afternoon, a move that will net the Ravens fourth and fifth-round selections in this year’s draft. General manager Ozzie Newsome will also send his 2015 seventh-round selection to the Lions.

Ngata had one season remaining on a five-year, $61 million contract that was signed in 2011. The 31-year-old was scheduled to make $8.5 million in base salary and to carry a $16 million salary cap figure, realities that were problematic for the Ravens this offseason. The move clears $8.5 million in much-needed space while leaving $7.5 million in dead money on the 2015 cap.

With Detroit losing Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to the Miami Dolphins in free agency, Ngata will not only rejoin former Ravens assistants Jim Caldwell and Teryl Austin in Detroit, but he will fill a major void on the Lions defensive line. The decision to trade Ngata also prevents him from joining an AFC rival, something that would have been possible had he been released. While two Day 3 draft selections aren’t a tremendous return for one of the best players in franchise history, the Ravens didn’t have great negotiating leverage considering most expected Ngata to be released if the sides didn’t work out a deal.

“Haloti has been an outstanding player for us for many years,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He consistently showed tremendous leadership in our locker room and on the field. At times, he was one of the NFL’s most dominant players.”

Since last year, Baltimore had explored a contract extension with Ngata to lessen his cap hit and afford him the opportunity to finish his career with the Ravens like future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis and current teammate Terrell Suggs, who signed a four-year, $20.7 million extension that included $16 million guaranteed last offseason. Instead, Ngata follows in the footsteps of safety Ed Reed and will now finish his career elsewhere.

Head coach John Harbaugh expressed strong optimism last month that the organization would get a deal done with Ngata, but members of the organization offered a more tempered approach two weeks ago during the “State of the Ravens” press conference.

“You go back to Suggs, we were able to successfully do that, which doesn’t guarantee that he retires as a Raven, but it certainly guaranteed that we would play him well into his 30s,” owner Steve Bisciotti said last month. “We were successful with Ray; we were unsuccessful with Ed. I put Haloti in that group of iconic players that helped us to get where we are as a franchise.”

The 6-foot-4, 340-pound Ngata undoubtedly goes down as one of the most decorated players in franchise history with only Lewis (13), Jonathan Ogden (11), Reed (nine), and Suggs (six) making it to more Pro Bowls in their time with the Ravens. But it is fair to question how much longer he will continue to play at a high level after nagging injuries hindered his performance in 2012 and 2013.

A strong 2014 campaign certainly improved Ngata’s value in the eyes of the Ravens, but a four-game suspension for Adderall allowed the organization to get an extended look at 2014 second-round pick Timmy Jernigan, who filled in admirably over the final month of the regular season before injuring his ankle in the regular-season finale. Jernigan and starting nose tackle Brandon Williams will now be expected to lead a defensive line that’s parted ways with Ngata and veteran Chris Canty this offseason.

The old adage of letting go of a player a year too early being preferable to a season or two too late applies in this case despite the void Ngata leaves behind in terms of both production on the field and leadership in the locker room. Even with Jernigan ready to step into a bigger role, the Ravens would benefit from adding another run-stuffing defensive tackle via the draft or free agency.

The 12th overall pick of the 2006 draft, Ngata was tied with punter Sam Koch for having the second-longest tenure with the Ravens behind Suggs. Going into the 2014 season, the University of Oregon product expressed hope that he would finish his career in Baltimore, but reports have indicated that Ngata and agent Mike McCartney weren’t willing to be as flexible as Suggs was in finding a compromise with the Ravens last winter.

“I would love to be a Raven for life,” Ngata said last June. “If we can get something done, that’d be great. We’ll just let my agent and Ozzie take care of that business off the field.”

In 2014, Ngata collected 31 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and seven pass breakups. His run of five consecutive Pro Bowl nods was snapped this past season after his suspension for Adderall, which the NFL considers a performance-enhancing drug.

The Ravens will be challenged in replacing Ngata’s ability against the run as they finished fifth or better in the NFL in run defense seven times and ranked eighth or better in yards per carry allowed in every one of Ngata’s nine seasons anchoring the defensive line. Baltimore also allowed the fewest rushing touchdowns and the second-fewest rushing yards per game in the NFL during Ngata’s career.

He finishes with 445 tackles, 25 1/2 sacks, six forced fumbles, and five interceptions in his nine-year career with the Ravens.

 

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Suggs restructure puts band-aid on Ravens’ cap woes

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Suggs restructure puts band-aid on Ravens’ cap woes

Posted on 10 March 2015 by Luke Jones

Needing to be under the 2015 salary cap by 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Ravens found a temporary band-aid by restructuring the contract of veteran linebacker Terrell Suggs.

According to The Sun, Baltimore has converted $3 million of Suggs’ scheduled $4 million base salary for 2015 into a bonus, which will create an additional $2.25 million in cap space for this season. The move also adds an extra $750,000 to Suggs’ cap figures for 2016, 2017, and 2018, which isn’t substantial but is still something the Ravens try to avoid doing.

Last offseason, Suggs signed a four-year extension that gives the six-time Pro Bowl selection an excellent chance to finish his career in Baltimore.

The move was necessary to get the Ravens below the salary cap after they had tendered their restricted and exclusive-rights free agents on Monday. However, it still leaves them with work to do if they want to re-sign any of their unrestricted free agents or explore other players available on the open market.

General manager Ozzie Newsome would still like to get something done with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to provide relief from his current $16 million cap figure in the final year of his contract. However, the NFL Network reported Tuesday morning that the “status quo” is likely remain between the Ravens and Ngata, which would do the organization no favors in trying to add other players to the current roster this offseason.

The restructuring of Suggs’ deal is a sign that the Ravens are trying to buy more time to work something out with Ngata, but it’s difficult to imagine this offseason being a productive one without movement on the five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle’s contract.

The Ravens are also trying to restructure the contract of veteran cornerback Lardarius Webb, who currently carries a $12 million cap figure for the 2015 season.

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