Tag Archive | "Ravens"

Is Jernigan ready to replace Ngata if needed?

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Is Jernigan ready to replace Ngata if needed?

Posted on 09 February 2015 by Luke Jones

As the future of Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata appears to be moving toward a resolution after months of speculation, little focus has been placed on the man who could replace him on the starting defensive line.

The 22-year-old Timmy Jernigan provided a good return in his rookie season after the Ravens selected him with the 48th overall pick last May, but does the Florida State product satisfy the “80-20″ rule quoted by some as justification to release Ngata if the sides are unable to work out a contract extension in the coming weeks? It’s easy to look at Ngata’s scheduled $16 million cap figure for 2015 and a potential $8.5 million in salary-cap savings and sign off on a divorce from a financial standpoint, but general manager Ozzie Newsome must be sure a deep — but young — defensive line has the means to replace the five-time Pro Bowl selection.

Despite missing five games due to knee and ankle injuries in his rookie season in Baltimore, Jernigan flashed his potential on more than one occasion, but did the Ravens see enough in his part-time role to envision heavier responsibilities as soon as this coming season? At least one veteran teammate was impressed as Jernigan filled in for Ngata during the latter’s four-game suspension for Adderall use.

“He’s a dog. He’s going to be a really good football player for a long time in the National Football League,” defensive end Chris Canty said in late December. “I noticed that when I came here for the minicamp [last June], just his aggressive play, his physical nature, his quick twitch jumping off the ball. He’s got a lot of great attributes. He’s constantly learning from [defensive line coach Clarence Brooks] and some of the other vets on the nuances of the game.”

It may be that four-game ban that provided the Ravens with the necessary leverage and confidence to negotiate more rigidly with Ngata this offseason. In four games as his primary replacement to close the regular season, Jernigan collected two sacks and seven tackles and earned a positive grade from Pro Football Focus in all but one contest — the 25-13 loss to Houston in which little went right for the Ravens.

Prior to suffering the ankle injury that forced him out of the regular-season finale against Cleveland and the wild-card round against Pittsburgh, Jernigan played in more than half of the Ravens’ defensive snaps in three straight games and fared well in an increased role. It was the only time all season he held an expanded role as he typically served as a replacement for Ngata or Brandon Williams every few series and as a rush specialist in certain passing situations.

Of all 3-4 defensive ends who appeared in at least 25 percent of his team’s snaps, Jernigan earned PFF’s 14th-highest cumulative grade while Ngata finished ninth. The optimist views such an assessment as there being room for Jernigan to grade even higher with more opportunities while skeptics may wonder if extensive playing time might expose the young defensive lineman’s shortcomings.

At 6-foot-2 and 300 pounds, the undersized Jernigan doesn’t compare to Ngata’s 6-foot-4, 340-pound presence, but few players do. And let’s not forget how third-year nose tackle Brandon Williams will fit into the picture after emerging as an above-average player in his first season as a starter. Comparing Jernigan’s skill set to Ngata in his prime would be unfair, but his quickness, strength, and leverage at the 3-technique project well — even if he lacks Ngata’s massive frame — against the run and as a rusher.

In 330 defensive snaps last year, Jernigan amassed 23 tackles and four sacks. Ngata collected 31 tackles, two sacks, seven pass breakups, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions in 546 defensive snaps. According to PFF, Jernigan’s 12 quarterback hurries and seven quarterback hits outdid Ngata (14 hurries and two quarterback hits) and the rookie registered 14 “stops” (defined as the number of solo tackles including sacks made which constituted an offensive failure) compared to Ngata’s 16.

Durability is a question as meniscus surgery sidelined Jernigan for four games early in the season, but he rebounded quickly from the ankle injury in Week 17 to return for the divisional round after only a one-game absence. Returning to a rotational role, Jernigan sacked New England quarterback Tom Brady and collected another tackle in the 35-31 loss that ended Baltimore’s season.

It might be unfair to ask whether Jernigan will be the better player in 2015, but wondering if the young defensive tackle will outperform Ngata by 2016 and 2017 when the veteran is approaching his mid-30s is an entirely different matter. And that could be the tipping point as the Ravens try to determine a dollar figure that makes sense for extending their 31-year-old defensive tackle, who had a strong 2014 season but battled nagging injuries that hindered his play in the previous two years.

“Once he puts it all together and the game slows down for him, it’s going to be scary,” said Canty late last season about Jernigan’s potential. “It’s going to be really scary. He’s going to be really, really good.”

Depending on what happens with Ngata, the Ravens may need Jernigan’s full potential to be realized sooner rather than later.

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Former Ravens running back Lewis’ Super Bowl XLVII ring auctioned off

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Former Ravens running back Lewis’ Super Bowl XLVII ring auctioned off

Posted on 08 February 2015 by Luke Jones

The Super Bowl XLVII ring given to former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis was sold in an auction for more than $50,000 on Sunday.

Despite the fact that Lewis didn’t play for the 2012 NFL champions, owner Steve Bisciotti chose to award Super Bowl rings to members of the Ravens Ring of Honor that also included Jonathan Ogden, Peter Boulware, Michael McCrary, and Matt Stover at the time. The owner may now think twice about that decision after Lewis sold the ring to a pawn shop before it went to auction, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The ring ultimately sold for $50,820 after 15 total bids facilitated by Goldin Auctions. It is made of solid 10K white gold and contains 3.75 carats worth of diamonds.

Though it clearly isn’t a good look for Lewis to publicly sell what was a gift from the Baltimore owner, the 35-year-old’s financial difficulties have been no secret after he filed for bankruptcy in 2012. It might also be a sign that awarding Super Bowl rings to former players with no direct ties to the organization may not be the best idea.

It’s noble to want to recognize members of the Ring of Honor, but Bisciotti likely didn’t anticipate his gift being turned around and sold in such a short period of time. On the flip side, unless it’s someone like Harry Swayne or O.J. Brigance who currently owns another title within the organization, it would be tough for a former player — especially one who already owns a Super Bowl ring from his playing days — to view the ring with any special feelings.

Lewis played with the Ravens from 2000-2006 and remains the franchise’s all-time leading rusher.

 

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NFL releases list of players invited to combine in Indianapolis

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NFL releases list of players invited to combine in Indianapolis

Posted on 06 February 2015 by Luke Jones

With the 2015 NFL scouting combine less than two weeks away, the Ravens brass as well as representatives from the 31 other teams will soon be descending on Indianapolis as draft preparation kicks into high gear.

Baltimore’s greatest positions of need — in early February — include (in no particular order) wide receiver, cornerback, running back, safety, and tight end. Of course, that list will change and evolve as salary-cap cuts are made and free agency opens next month.

The 2015 draft begins in Chicago on April 30 and runs through May 2. The Ravens own the 26th overall pick in the first round and are currently slotted to have six choices, but they are also projected to receive three compensatory picks, bringing the total to nine.

Below is the full list of players invited to the combine:

QUARTERBACKS
Anthony Boone, Duke
Brandon Bridge, South Alabama
Cody Fajardo, Nevada
Garrett Grayson, Colorado State
Connor Halliday, Washington State
Brett Hundley, UCLA
Sean Mannion, Oregon State
Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Nick Marshall, Auburn
Bryce Petty, Baylor
Blake Sims, Alabama
Jameis Winston, Florida State
Bryan Bennett, Southeastern Louisiana (throwing quarterback to assist with drills)
Shane Carden, East Carolina (throwing quarterback to assist with drills)
Jerry Lovelocke, Prairie View A&M (throwing quarterback to assist with drills)

RUNNING BACKS
Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
Jay Ajayi, Boise State
Javorius Allen, USC
Cameron Artis-Payne, Auburn
Dominique Brown, Louisville
Malcolm Brown, Texas
Michael Burton (FB), Rutgers
B.J. Catalon, TCU
David Cobb, Minnesota
Tevin Coleman, Indiana
John Crockett, North Dakota State
Mike Davis, South Carolina
Michael Dyer, Louisville
Jahwan Edwards, Ball State
Jalston Fowler (FB), Alabama
Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
Todd Gurley, Georgia
Dee Hart, Colorado State
Braylon Heard, Kentucky
Kenny Hilliard, LSU
Joey Iosefa, Hawaii
David Johnson, Northern Iowa
Duke Johnson, Miami (Fla.)
Gus Johnson, Stephen F. Austin
Matt Jones, Florida
Jeremy Langford, Michigan State
Terrence Magee, LSU
Marcus Murphy, Missouri
Thomas Rawls, Central Michigan
Josh Robinson, Mississippi State
Ross Scheuerman, Lafayette
Tyler Varga, Yale
Karlos Williams, Florida State
Trey Williams, Texas A&M
T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
Zach Zenner, South Dakota State

WIDE RECEIVERS
Nelson Agholor, USC
Mario Alford, West Virginia
Dres Anderson, Utah
Kenny Bell, Nebraska
Da’Ron Brown, Northern Illinois
Kaelin Clay, Utah
Sammie Coates, Auburn
Chris Conley, Georgia
Amari Cooper, Alabama
Jamison Crowder, Duke
Davaris Daniels, Notre Dame
Devante Davis, UNLV
Geremy Davis, Connecticut
Titus Davis, Central Michigan
Stefon Diggs, Maryland
Phillip Dorsett, Miami (Fla.)
Devin Funchess, Michigan
Antwan Goodley, Baylor
Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri
Rashad Greene, Florida State
Rannell Hall, Central Florida
Justin Hardy, East Carolina
Josh Harper, Fresno State
Christion Jones, Alabama
Dezmin Lewis, Central Arkansas
Tony Lippett, Michigan State
Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
Deon Long, Maryland
Donatella Luckett, Harding
Vince Mayle, Washington State
Tre McBride, William & Mary
Ty Montgomery, Stanford
Keith Mumphery, Michigan State
J.J. Nelson, Alabama-Birmingham
DeVante Parker, Louisville
Breshad Perriman, Cental Florida
Ezell Ruffin, San Diego State
DeAndre Smelter, Georgia Tech
Devin Smith, Ohio State
Jaelen Strong, Arizona State
Darren Waller, Georgia Tech
DeAndrew White, Alabama
Kevin White, West Virginia
Cam Worthy, East Carolina

TIGHT ENDS
Blake Bell, Oklahoma
E.J. Bibbs, Iowa State
Nick Boyle, Delaware
Gerald Christian, Louisville
Cameron Clear, Texas A&M
A.J. Derby, Arkansas
Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State
Jesse James, Penn State
Ben Koyack, Notre Dame
Tyler Kroft, Rutgers
Nick O’Leary, Florida State
MyCole Pruitt, Southern Illinois
Wes Saxton, South Alabama
Jean Sifrin, Massachusetts
Randall Telfer, USC
Eric Tomlinson, UTEP
Clive Walford, Miami (Fla.)
Maxx Williams, Minnesota

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
Al Bond (T), Memphis
Brett Boyko (T), UNLV
Jamon Brown (T), Louisville
Trenton Brown (G), Florida
A.J. Cann (G), South Carolina
T.J. Clemmings (T), Pittsburgh
Takoby Cofield (T), Duke
La’el Collins (T), LSU
Rob Crisp (T), North Carolina State
Reese Dismukes (C), Auburn
Andrew Donnal (T), Iowa
Jamil Douglas (T), Arizona State
Cameron Erving (T), Florida State
Tayo Fabuluje (T), TCU
Jon Feliciano (G), Florida
B.J. Finney (C), Kansas State
Jake Fisher (T), Oregon
Ereck Flowers (T), Miami (Fla.)
Andy Gallik (C), Boston College
Max Garcia (C), Florida
Laurence Gibson (T), Virginia Tech
Mark Glowinski (G), West Virginia
Hroniss Grasu (C), Oregon
Chaz Green (T), Florida
Chad Hamilton (T), Coastal Carolina
Jarvis Harrison (G), Texas A&M
Bobby Hart (T), Florida State
Rob Havenstein (T), Wisconsin
Sean Hickey (T), Syracuse
D.J. Humphries (T), Florida
Tre Jackson (G), Florida State
Arie Kouandjio (G), Alabama
Greg Mancz (C), Toledo
Ali Marpet (T), Hobart
Josue Matias (G), Florida State
Darrian Miller (T), Kentucky
John Miller (G), Louisville
Mitch Morse (T), Missouri
Robert Myers (G), Tennessee State
Cedric Ogbuehi (T), Texas A&M
Andrus Peat (T), Stanford
Terry Poole (T), San Diego State
Jeremiah Poutasi (T), Utah
Corey Robinson (T), South Carolina
Ty Sambrailo (T), Colorado State
Brandon Scherff (T), Iowa
Adam Shead (G), Oklahoma
Austin Shepherd (T), Alabama
Donovan Smith (T), Penn State
Tyrus Thompson (T), Oklahoma
Laken Tomlinson (G), Duke
Daryl Williams (T), Oklahoma

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN
Henry Anderson (DE), Stanford
Arik Armstead (DE), Oregon
Tavaris Barnes (DE), Clemson
Vic Beasley (DE), Clemson
Michael Bennett (DT), Ohio State
Angelo Blackson (DT), Auburn
Malcom Brown (DT), Texas
Anthony Chickillo (DE), Miami (Fla.)
Frank Clark (DE), Michigan
Xavier Coooper (DT), Washington State
Christian Covington (DT), Rice
Corey Crawford (DE), Clemson
Carl Davis (DT), Iowa
Tyeler Davison (DE), Fresno State
Ryan Delaire (DE), Towson
B.J. Dubose (DE), Louisville
Mario Edwards (DE), Florida State
Kyle Emanuel (DE), North Dakota State
Trey Flowers (DE), Arkansas
Dante Fowler (DE), Florida
Markus Golden (DE), Missouri
Eddie Goldman (DT), Florida State
Randy Gregory (DE), Nebraska
Marcus Hardison (DE), Arizona State
Eli Harold (DE), Virginia
Zach Hodges (DE), Harvard
Danielle Hunter (DE), LSU
Martin Ifedi (DE), Memphis
Grady Jarrett (DT), Clemson
Derrick Lott (DT), Tennessee-Chattanooga
Joey Mbu (DT), Houston
Ellis McCarthy (DT), UCLA
Rakeem Nunez-Roches (DT), Southern Mississippi
Owamagbe Odighizuwa (DE), UCLA
Nate Orchard (DE), Utah
Leon Orr (DT), Florida
David Parry (NT), Stanford
Jordan Phillips (DT), Oklahoma
Darius Philon (DT), Arkansas
Shane Ray (DE), Missouri
Cedric Reed (DE), Texas
Bobby Richardson (DT), Indiana
Ryan Russell (DE), Purdue
Danny Shelton (NT), Washington
Deon Simon (NT), Northwestern State
Preston Smith (DE), Mississippi State
Za’Darius Smith (DE), Kentucky
J.T. Surratt (DT), South Carolina
Lynden Trail (DE), Norfolk State
Louis Trinca-Pasat (DT), Iowa
Davis Tull (DE), Tennessee-Chattanooga
Zack Wagenmann (DE), Montana
Leterrius Walton (DT), Central Michigan
Leonard Williams (DT), USC
Gabe Wright (DT), Auburn

LINEBACKERS
Kwon Alexander (OLB), LSU
Stephone Anthony (ILB), Clemson
Neiron Ball (OLB), Florida
Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil (OLB), Maryland
Aaron Davis (ILB), Colorado State
Paul Dawson (ILB), TCU
Trey DePriest (ILB), Alabama
Xzavier Dickson (OLB), Alabama
Bud Dupree (OLB), Kentucky
Alani Fua (OLB), BYU
Geneo Grissom (OLB), Oklahoma
Obum Gwacham (DE), Oregon State
Bryce Hager (ILB), Baylor
Ben Heeney (ILB), Kansas
Amarlo Herrera (ILB), Georgia
Jordan Hicks (ILB), Texas
Mike Hull (ILB), Penn State
A.J. Johnson (ILB), Tennessee
Taiwan Jones (ILB), Michigan State
Eric Kendricks (ILB), UCLA
Hau’oli Kikaha (OLB), Washington
Lorenzo Mauldin (OLB), Louisville
Benardrick McKinney (ILB), Mississippi State
Mark Nzeocha (OLB), Wyoming
Denzel Perryman (ILB), Miami (Fla.)
Hayes Pullard (ILB), USC
Edmond Robinson (OLB), Newberry
Jake Ryan (OLB), Michigan
Martrell Spaight (OLB), Arkansas
J.R. Tavai (OLB), USC
Shaq Thompson (OLB), Washington
Max Valles (OLB), Virginia
Tony Washington (OLB), Oregon
Damien Wilson (ILB), Minnesota
Ramik Wilson (ILB), Georgia

DEFENSIVE BACKS
Adrian Amos (S), Penn State
Detrick Bonner (S), Virginia Tech
Ibraheim Campbell (S), Northwestern
Alex Carter (CB), Stanford
D.C. Celiscar (CB), Western Michigan
Justin Coleman (CB), Tennessee
Jalen Collins (CB), LSU
Landon Collins (S), Alabama
Justin Cox (S), Mississippi State
Ronald Darby (CB), Florida State
Quandre Diggs (CB), Texas
Lorenzo Doss (CB), Tulane
Kurtis Drummond (S), Michigan State
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (CB), Oregon
Durell Eskridge (S), Syracuse
Charles Gaines (CB), Louisville
Clayton Geathers (S), Central Florida
Jacoby Glenn (CB), Central Florida
Senquez Golson (CB), Ole Miss
Doran Grant (CB), Ohio State
Ladarius Gunter (CB), Miami (Fla.)
Chris Hackett (S), TCU
Anthony Harris (S), Virginia
Troy Hill (CB), Oregon
Gerod Holliman (S), Louisville
Kyshoen Jarrett (S), Virginia Tech
A.J. Jefferson (CB), UCLA
Kevin Johnson (CB), Wake Forest
Byron Jones (CB), Connecticut
Craig Mager (CB), Texas State
Dean Marlowe (S), James Madison
Bobby McCain (CB), Memphis
Tevin McDonald (S), Eastern Washington
Steven Nelson (CB), Oregon State
Garry Peters (CB), Clemson
Marcus Peters (CB), Washington
Cody Prewitt (S), Ole Miss
Damarious Randall (S), Arizona State
Jordan Richards (S) Stanford
Quinten Rollins (CB), Miami (Ohio)
Eric Rowe (CB), Utah
James Sample (S), Louisville
Josh Shaw (CB), USC
Jacorey Shepherd (CB), Kansas
D’Joun Smith (CB), Florida Atlantic
Derron Smith (S), Fresno State
Tye Smith (CB), Towson
Damian Swann (CB), Georgia
Jaquiski Tartt (S), Samford
Trae Waynes (CB), Michigan State
Kevin White (CB), West Virginia
Jermaine Whitehead (S), Auburn
P.J. Williams (CB), Florida State
Julian Wilson (CB), Oklahoma

SPECIALISTS
Will Bauman (P), North Carolina State
Kyle Brindza (K), Notre Dame
Joe Cardona (LS), Navy
Kyle Christy (P), Florida
Sam Ficken (K), Penn State
Will Johnson (P), Texas State
Josh Lambo (K), Texas A&M
Kyle Loomis (P), Portland State
Justin Manton (K), Louisiana-Monroe
Trevor Pardula (P), Kansas
Jared Roberts (K), Colorado State
Spencer Roth (P), Baylor

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If not Torrey Smith, then who for the Ravens?

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If not Torrey Smith, then who for the Ravens?

Posted on 04 February 2015 by Luke Jones

No Ravens free-agent-to-be has sparked more debate over the last several months than wide receiver Torrey Smith as he’s set to hit the open market in a few weeks.

So much time is spent picking apart his shortcomings in running routes and arguing that he’s not a No. 1 receiver — there aren’t 32 of them in the entire NFL, by the way — that we lose sight of what Smith has brought to the table in his four years with the Ravens. Prior to his selection in the second round of the 2011 draft, the Ravens lacked any kind of a vertical threat for quarterback Joe Flacco and were regularly suffocated by any defense simply playing Cover 2 with aggressive cornerbacks. From the moment he arrived, the speedy receiver brought an ability to not only stretch the field, but make plays in the process of doing so.

The University of Maryland product ranks third on the all-time franchise list in receptions and is second with 30 touchdown catches while never missing a game in four years. After a 2013 season in which he caught 65 passes for 1,128 yards — both career highs — his numbers dipped to 49 catches for 767 yards under new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, but Smith still caught a career-best 11 touchdowns and drew an impressive 261 yards on pass interference calls. The six-foot, 205-pound wideout wasn’t a great fit in Kubiak’s system that focused on short-to-intermediate passing, but his skill set is something that would be hard to replace.

By all accounts, Smith is also one of the best men in the Ravens locker room, a factor that shouldn’t be lost in the wake of last offseason when five players were arrested and after the recent reports of Will Hill and Terrence Cody being in trouble with the law. Character can’t be everything when it comes to valuing a player, but it should count for something.

It’s true that Smith profiles best as a good No. 2 receiver, but that still carries substantial value, evident by a CBS Sports report indicating the Ravens offered him a five-year, $35 million contract prior to the 2014 season. And even if the 26-year-old won’t cash in on his gamble in the same way that Flacco did in his walk year two years ago, offers in that same neighborhood — or slightly better — will still be thrown his way on the open market. Resources such as Spotrac.com have projected Smith to be worth slightly above $7 million per year, and that’s before learning whether top free-agent receivers such as Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, and Randall Cobb will even hit the market.

If you’re convinced the Ravens shouldn’t pay Smith what they offered him a few months ago or sweeten the deal a bit to potentially get it done, then what?

Even if Bryant, Thomas, and Cobb find their way to the market, the Ravens won’t have the salary cap space to make a competitive offer. Philadelphia’s Jeremy Maclin would be next on the list, but most project him to fetch more than Smith in free agency. A look at contracts signed in recent offseasons likely puts Smith in line with the deals received by Eric Decker and Golden Tate last offseason, but the final price will depend on the supply of quality receivers on the market and the number of teams willing to spend.

Whether re-signing Smith or not, the Ravens will take a long look at the wide receiver position in the draft, but Alabama’s Amari Cooper and West Virginia’s Kevin White will be long gone by the time they pick 26th overall. And let’s not forget that general manager Ozzie Newsome’s sterling draft reputation doesn’t extend to the wide receiver position where Smith is the Ravens’ biggest success story in two decades. Going into the draft needing to find a starting receiver with a late first-round pick isn’t a recipe for success for a playoff-caliber team.

Drafting a wideout such as DeVante Parker, Dorial Green-Beckham, Jaelen Strong, or Devin Funchess could pay off in the long run, but few positions are as unpredictable as wide receiver, especially if you’re expecting one to play a significant role immediately.

Should Smith depart, the Ravens would be looking at a 36-year-old Steve Smith as one starter and a competition among the likes of Marlon Brown, Kamar Aiken, Michael Campanaro, and Jacoby Jones (if he isn’t a cap casualty) for the No. 2 spot. Those receivers are complementary parts — not NFL starters — at this stage, and the Ravens can’t depend too much on Steve Smith, who slowed down at different points last season after a blazing start.

As they have in the past, Baltimore could look for another short-term veteran fix, but there’s only so much upside to be had with receivers on the wrong side of 30, especially if you’re looking for someone to stretch the field.

Of course, Smith will also need to prove just how much he wants to remain in Baltimore as he told WNST.net last week that he won’t necessarily go to the highest bidder and complimented the organization for giving him a chance to win every year. If the Ravens are still offering the fifth-year receiver what they did a few months ago and are willing to offer a little more as a show of faith in him, Smith can’t accuse them of disrespecting him after a season he’s described himself as less than stellar.

Most agree that Smith needs to be “the right player at the right price” for the Ravens to continue their relationship with him, but his departure would spell bad news for a team trying to build on a 10-6 season that ended in the divisional round.

His detractors have had few problems pointing out what Smith isn’t, but replacing him would be more difficult than many are willing to admit.

 

 

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Examining the Ravens’ possible 2015 salary cap cuts

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Examining the Ravens’ possible 2015 salary cap cuts

Posted on 03 February 2015 by Luke Jones

With Super Bowl XLIX now in the books and the 2014 season officially over, the Ravens are continuing to make plans for 2015 as they evaluate a tight salary cap and try to improve from a 10-6 campaign that resulted in a trip to the divisional round of the playoffs.

The NFL has yet to set the 2015 salary cap, which is projected to increase from $133 million this past season to somewhere between $138 million and $142 million for the upcoming year. That’s good news for the Ravens as they currently own a commitment of over $137 million for players currently under contract, per Spotrac.com.

With a slew of key free agents to address as well as visions of trying to improve other areas of the roster, general manager Ozzie Newsome will face some difficult decisions pertaining to several veterans on the roster. That begins and ends with five-time Pro Bowl selection Haloti Ngata, who is entering the final season of a five-year, $61 million deal signed in 2011. Easily one of the best players in franchise history, the 31-year-old defensive tackle finds himself in a similar position to the one Terrell Suggs was in last year before he signed a contract extension to lower his 2014 cap figure.

A name not included on the list of potential cap casualties below is tight end Dennis Pitta, whose $4 million base salary for 2015 is guaranteed. It remains unclear whether Pitta will play football again after suffering two serious hip injuries in two years, but cutting him this offseason would increase his cap figure for 2015.

It’s important to remember the rule of 51 as the top 51 cap numbers on the roster count against the salary cap. The savings from any released player are offset in part by an additional player jumping into the top 51 from the bottom of the list. For example, if a released player carrying a $3 million cap number is replaced in the top 51 by another player carrying a $405,000 cap number, the end result is a $2.595 million savings on the salary cap.

Here’s how I’d rank the list of possible candidates to be cut for cap purposes (with the pre-June 1 cap savings noted in parentheses), in order from most likely to least likely:

1. DE Chris Canty ($2.66 million)
Skinny: The 32-year-old may take this decision out of the Ravens’ hands as he acknowledged at the end of the season that he’s contemplating retirement. Injuries limited his production in 2014, and the Ravens will likely push to re-sign the underrated Lawrence Guy while looking toward young defensive linemen Brent Urban and Kapron Lewis-Moore to be factors at Canty’s 5-technique defensive end spot. With so many other pressing needs elsewhere and a few younger options at this position, Canty returning would be more of a luxury than a necessity for next season, making it likely that he’s played his final game with Baltimore.

2. WR Jacoby Jones ($750,000)
Skinny: On the surface, the minimal savings gained by cutting the return specialist now wouldn’t appear worth it, but you have to wonder where Jones fits after falling behind the likes of Marlon Brown and Kamar Aiken on the depth chart and not appearing as explosive in the return game in 2014. A possible strategy would be to designate Jones as a post-June 1 cut, which would create $2.5 million in savings for the summer and autumn when the Ravens need a “rainy day” fund to account for injuries. The only problem with that strategy is his scheduled 2015 cap number of $3.375 million staying on the books during the first few months of free agency, but it just doesn’t feel like there’s a place for Jones moving forward.

3. LB Albert McClellan ($1 million)
Skinny: A core member of Jerry Rosburgh’s special teams units over the last few years, McClellan has been a reliable player, but other young inside linebackers such as Arthur Brown and Zachary Orr are cheaper and should be ready to handle more responsibility. Of course, we’re not talking about a great deal of savings here, but veteran special-teams players are typically among the first to go when teams are dealing with cap pains.

4. P Sam Koch ($2.5 million)
Skinny: Many assumed Koch would be a cap casualty last year with his high price tag for a punter, but the Ravens value his ability a great deal and regard him as one of the best in the NFL. That said, Pro Bowl kicker Justin Tucker is a restricted free agent and will be looking for a long-term contract over the next 12 months. If Koch is willing to sign a team-friendly extension to lower his cap number, the Ravens would be more than happy to keep him around, but they probably can’t afford to pay their kicker and punter in the top 10 at their respective positions. Entering the final year of his contract, Koch is more likely to be a casualty this year than he was last offseason.

5. DT Haloti Ngata ($8.5 million)
Skinny: The only certainty is that the longtime Raven won’t be playing for his scheduled $16 million cap figure. Whether that means he signs an extension like Suggs or is cut remains to be seen. Ngata’s 2014 season was his best in a few years, but his four-game suspension for Adderall use allowed the Ravens to take an extended look at 2014 second-round pick Timmy Jernigan, who played very well in the 31-year-old’s absence. The sides talked about an extension last season with little progress, so it will be interesting to see how motivated Ngata is to make amends for his suspension and finish his career in Baltimore. The Ravens must be smart as it’s typically unwise to throw money at defensive linemen on the wrong side of 30.

6. CB Lardarius Webb ($2 million)
Skinny: It was a disappointing year for the 29-year-old after he missed all of training camp and three of the first four games of the season with a back injury. Since suffering the second anterior cruciate ligament tear of his career in 2012, Webb has looked like nothing better than average, which is problematic when he’s carrying a $12 million cap figure for 2015. However, cutting him this winter would only save $2 million and create less depth at a position where the Ravens are already looking to improve. Newsome may ask Webb to take a pay cut, but it’s difficult envisioning the Ravens depleting their depth at cornerback further — even if he’s no more than average at this pointby cutting him outright for minimal savings.

 

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Former Ravens defensive tackle Cody indicted for animal cruelty

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Former Ravens defensive tackle Cody indicted for animal cruelty

Posted on 02 February 2015 by Luke Jones

On the same day the Ravens officially terminated Terrence Cody’s contract, it was revealed just how much trouble the defensive tackle is in with the law.

Baltimore County Police announced Monday that the 26-year-old was indicted for animal cruelty that allegedly involves a dog and an alligator. Cody posted $10,000 bail and was released after being processed.

According to the state attorney’s office, the 2010 second-round pick is facing 15 counts, which include two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty involving a dog, five counts of animal abuse or neglect involving a dog, one count of illegal possession of an alligator, five counts of animal abuse or neglect of an alligator, a count of possession of drug paraphernalia, and a count of marijuana possession.

Of those charges, the felony counts carry the most severe penalty of up to three years in prison.

Needless to say, where Cody might play football next season is the least of his worries at the moment. He was limited to just one game and nine total snaps after spending the first half of the 2014 season recovering from offseason hip surgery.

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Ravens given 33-to-1 odds to win next year’s Super Bowl

Posted on 02 February 2015 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV)

Odds to win the 2016 Super Bowl

Seattle Seahawks 5/1

New England Patriots 7/1

Green Bay Packers 8/1

Denver Broncos 10/1

Dallas Cowboys 14/1

Indianapolis Colts 14/1

Philadelphia Eagles 20/1

San Francisco 49ers 20/1

New Orleans Saints 22/1

Pittsburgh Steelers 25/1

Arizona Cardinals 33/1

Baltimore Ravens 33/1

Detroit Lions 33/1

Atlanta Falcons 40/1

Carolina Panthers 40/1

Chicago Bears 40/1

Cincinnati Bengals 40/1

Houston Texans 40/1

Kansas City Chiefs 40/1

Miami Dolphins 40/1

Minnesota Vikings 40/1

New York Giants 40/1

San Diego Chargers 40/1

St. Louis Rams 40/1

Buffalo Bills 66/1

Cleveland Browns 66/1

New York Jets 100/1

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 100/1

Tennessee Titans 100/1

Washington Redskins 100/1

Jacksonville Jaguars 200/1

Oakland Raiders 200/1

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Forsett hoping for chance to work with new coordinator Trestman

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Forsett hoping for chance to work with new coordinator Trestman

Posted on 02 February 2015 by Luke Jones

Free-agent running back Justin Forsett has made no secret about his preference to stay with the Ravens after a Pro Bowl season, but many thought the departure of offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak might complicate that sentiment.

After all, Forsett rushed for a career-high 1,266 yards in Kubiak’s zone-blocking scheme and also played for the new Denver Broncos head coach for one season in Houston, but the 29-year-old back likes what he’s heard about new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. The former Chicago Bears head coach has a reputation for preferring the passing game, but head coach John Harbaugh has made it clear that the Ravens won’t try to mess with a running game that thrived in 2014.

Forsett sees the potential for an added wrinkle under Trestman that wasn’t a major factor in his game this past year.

“I’m excited that we’re going to keep some of the main [rushing] principles that we had,” Forsett told WNST.net in Phoenix last week. “I think it’s been working for us, so why not keep it going? I’m excited about what he’s going to bring to the offense as far as maybe some extra routes for the running back. I know Matt Forte caught a lot of passes, so I’m all about that.”

The two-time Pro Bowl selection Forte caught 176 passes for 1,402 yards and seven touchdowns in two seasons under Trestman and was just the latest running back to have a major role as a receiver in the 59-year-old’s offense. As the offensive coordinator in Oakland, Trestman ran a system in which Charlie Garner caught 91 passes for 941 yards in 2002.

His three years with Arizona from 1998-2000 produced two Cardinals running backs — Larry Centers and Michael Pittman — with seasons of 69 or more receptions. And before that, Derek Loville caught 87 passes out of the backfield for San Francisco in 1995, Trestman’s first year as the 49ers offensive coordinator.

Of course, it’s no secret that Trestman has historically leaned toward the passing game, which would typically lead to running backs getting fewer carries but more opportunities to make receptions out of the backfield.

Forsett caught only 44 passes for 263 yards last season and didn’t make a touchdown reception until the 35-31 loss to New England in the division round. But he’s shown strong ability as a receiver in limited opportunities in past seasons, reining in 41 passes in 2009 and 33 in 2010 with Seattle.

The 5-foot-8, 197-pound back plans to meet with Trestman in the near future as he will continue working out at the Ravens’ training facility in Owings Mills this offseason. As he and his wife are expecting another baby this offseason, Forsett will rest his body after the biggest workload of his NFL career, but he doesn’t plan to rest on his laurels counting down to the start of free agency.

“You definitely feel it. I’m going to get some rest,” said Forsett, who plans to remain in Baltimore throughout the winter. “You get older [and] it’s hard to really get back into shape. You always want to make sure when you really start training, you’re not going to start back at zero. You want to be able to continue to move and progress and kind of go up in that upper climb. I’m going to continue to work out and continue to keep my body in shape.”

It will be interesting to see what kind of market develops for Forsett as it’s no secret that running backs have been devalued in recent years. He will turn 30 next October and many will argue that he was a product of Kubiak’s zone system, but Forsett averaged 4.9 yards per carry in his career prior to the 2014 season, proving he’s had plenty of success when given the opportunities.

After finally breaking the mold in which teams previously viewed him as a change-of-pace and third-down back, Forsett hopes the Ravens will commit to him with more long-term security than he’s ever enjoyed in his seven-year career.

“That’s where my heart is. I want to be back in Baltimore,” Forsett said. “Unfortunately, there’s a business part. I’m just being patient. I’ve been able to do that my whole career.”

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Torrey Smith won’t necessarily go to highest bidder

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Torrey Smith won’t necessarily go to highest bidder

Posted on 30 January 2015 by Luke Jones

Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith has never wavered from his desire to stay in Baltimore, but trying to determine his value might be the organization’s most difficult task this offseason.

He profiles best as a No. 2 receiver and is coming off a disappointing 2014 campaign, but the 26-year-old may learn other suitors are willing to pay more than the Ravens for his ability to stretch the field. That doesn’t mean Smith will simply sign with the highest bidder, however.

“I know guys [saying], ‘Whoever offers me the most money, I am going there,’” Smith told WNST.net in Phoenix this week. “That’s not necessarily the case for me, because there are so many different things that go into it. It’s going to be a tough decision.

“There are guys on teams that whether they believe it or not, they want to say, ‘This is the year.’ But they know come the middle of the season like, ‘This isn’t happening.’ In Baltimore, you know you have a chance every single year. That’s probably the best part, and it’s a strength of the organization.”

Of course, the Ravens must be judicious with their salary cap as they own a projected commitment of over $142 million for players currently under contract, according to Spotrac.com. General manager Ozzie Newsome could look to cut several veterans to clear space, but that doesn’t mean the necessary resources will be there to retain Smith if another team makes a lucrative offer.

After repeatedly expressing confidence that he wasn’t going anywhere, the 2011 second-round pick and University of Maryland product acknowledged the possibility late in the regular season that a deal might not be reached. Despite catching only 49 passes for a career-low 767 receiving yards, Smith caught a career-best 11 touchdowns and drew pass interference penalties on a regular basis to aid an offense that set franchise records for points score and total yards.

In 2014, Smith moved up to third on the franchise’s all-time receptions list and is now second in team history in touchdown receptions with 30 in four years. He hopes to continue moving up the list in 2015 and beyond.

“Everything’s going to take care of itself. The business is what it is,” Smith said. “We all understand that. Everyone knows where my heart is, but I understand it could possibly go the other way. I’m not really dwelling on anything. I’m just focusing on my family. I’m not nervous at all, because I know everything will take care of itself. You can’t really stress over things you can’t control. I try not to do it and when I do, things definitely don’t go my way.”

To keep his mind off the free-agent process, Smith has enrolled in the University of Miami’s new masters of business administration program geared toward professional athletes and artists. He’s already made a commitment to continue his charitable endeavors in Baltimore should he sign elsewhere as the Virginia native now considers Charm City his home.

Smith is trying not to think about what could happen if he hits the open market on March 10, but he knows he can’t take the easy way out of saying he’s leaving the decision solely in agent Drew Rosenhaus’ hands. And it would be difficult to walk away from the place where he got his start and has never experienced a losing season while also winning Super Bowl XLVII.

“At the end of the day, the decision will be on me and I understand that,” Smith said. “The agent does what they do. When the time comes to make a decision, I’ll make the best decision for [my wife and son]. You’ve got to go somewhere where you can believe you can win, and I’ll make the best decision all the way around.”

 

 

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Ravens safety Hill reportedly facing legal problems in New Jersey

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Ravens safety Hill reportedly facing legal problems in New Jersey

Posted on 29 January 2015 by Luke Jones

Another off-field problem has found Ravens safety Will Hill.

A warrant for the 24-year-old’s arrest has been issued in the state of New Jersey due to an alleged failure to pay more than $16,000 in child support, according to The Sun. However, the warrant was reportedly issued last March and Hill is not being actively pursued by police.

This is the latest chapter in a number of off-field missteps for Hill, who started eight games at safety in his first season with the Ravens after serving a six-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. It was Hill’s third suspension in three years in the NFL, which prompted the New York Giants to release him early last summer.

The University of Florida product was arrested in New Jersey in December 2013 for failing to pay child support.

In a season full of injuries and inconsistent play in the secondary, the Ravens found a bright spot in Hill, who emerged as the only clear-cut starter in a group of safeties that included 2013 first-round pick Matt Elam, Darian Stewart, Jeromy Miles, and rookie third-rounder Terrence Brooks. Hill collected 42 tackles, four pass breakups, and an interception returned for a touchdown in a late November win over New Orleans.

“He has a lot of talent, and it’s something that we always knew,” head coach John Harbaugh said at the end of the season. “He also has a great love for the game. He learned our defense throughout the course of the season, which it’s not easy to do that. We have a tough defense. We do a lot of good stuff back there. But he was running the show pretty well back there toward the end of the year. Having the offseason, having the [organized team activities], and the minicamp and the training camp is only going to really help him tremendously as far as being a really good safety for us.”

With No. 1 cornerback Jimmy Smith returning from a Lisfranc injury and veteran cornerback Lardarius Webb struggling at times in 2014 and carrying a $12 million figure, Hill might have been the Ravens’ surest bet in the secondary going into the offseason if you discount his off-field history.

Baltimore is expected to retain the restricted free agent, but Harbaugh said he issued the challenge for Hill to stay out of trouble at the end of the season. His current legal situation in New Jersey wouldn’t appear to be a healthy reflection of him getting the message after the Ravens gave him a second chance last summer.

“We put it on his plate a little bit. We’re challenging him for the next three or four months,” Harbaugh said. “‘Are you going to come back a better player than you were when you left here in January, and is that slate going to be clean?’ We fully expect it to be. He just had a baby. He’s doing great with his family, and we fully expect him to do a great job with that, and we’re going to try to help him anyway we can with that.”

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