Tag Archive | "Ravens"

daryl

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Former Ravens linebacker D. Smith joining Tampa Bay

Posted on 17 March 2016 by Luke Jones

On the same day that the Ravens retained two of their own free agents by re-signing receiver Marlon Brown and linebacker Chris Carter, veteran linebacker Daryl Smith found a new home.

Released by Baltimore earlier this month, Smith agreed to a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday, according to multiple reports. General manager Ozzie Newsome had left the door open for Smith to possibly return after giving him the opportunity “to see his market value” via free agency.

Smith will return to the state of Florida where he spent the first nine years of his NFL career as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Entering the offseason as a restricted free agent, Brown was not tendered a contract last week, but the Ravens have a history of re-signing some of their restricted free agents to cheaper deals than the tender amount.

The 6-foot-5 Brown once appeared to be the Ravens’ next great undrafted find after he caught 49 passes for 524 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie in 2013, but his production has declined rapidly in the last two years. In 2015, a back injury limited the University of Georgia product to 10 games in which he made just 14 receptions for 112 yards.

Brown will return under a vastly different climate at the wide receiver position from the last few years when he was projected to be an important part of the passing game. With Steve Smith, Kamar Aiken, Mike Wallace, and Breshad Perriman ahead of him on the depth chart, Brown will compete with the likes of Michael Campanaro, Jeremy Butler, Daniel Brown, and Chris Matthews for a roster spot.

Even if the 24-year-old has been a disappointment over the last two years, his familiarity with the system alone brings some value to the 90-man offseason roster for spring and summer practices. That being said, he will have much to prove in the preseason to stick with the Ravens for a fourth season.

Carter, 26, joined the Ravens late in the 2015 season and appeared in two games without recording any statistics. The 6-foot-1, 240-pound linebacker is entering his sixth season and has spent time with Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati, serving primarily as a backup and special-teams player.

In 48 career games, Carter has made 29 tackles and one pass breakup.

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weddlesbeard

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What happened to Weddle’s beard?

Posted on 17 March 2016 by Luke Jones

For a guy who includes the word “beard” in his official Twitter handle, new Ravens safety Eric Weddle arrived in Owings Mills with a startling look on Wednesday.

The longtime San Diego Charger shaved off his trademark facial hair last month, but he has been asked the question over and over.

Why?

“I’m regretting it by the second that I shaved it,” said Weddle, who is now sporting a much thinner beard. “It was a spur of the moment. I was working out one morning, and I got done, and it was just everywhere. There was sweat and water and who knows — probably bugs in there. I’m like, ‘What am I doing? I look ridiculous right now.'”

His wife, Chanel, tried to convince the 31-year-old defensive back to wait and think of something creative, but Weddle instead used Twitter to let his fans know what was happening after nearly three years of growth and much notoriety.

The beard could be making a comeback in his new city, however, and based on what we’ve seen in the past, he would be the favorite to unseat five-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda for the title of having the best beard on the Ravens.

“Luckily in the NFL, they don’t care what you look like as long as you play good,” Weddle said. “I might have to bring it back now. I’m getting too many people asking me. I need to bring it back.

“But I get more kisses from my wife, so that’s always a plus.”

But honestly, what wife wouldn’t want to kiss this?

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 10.23.25 AM

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Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 3.26.04 PM

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Ravens cut safety Will Hill prior to news of 10-game suspension

Posted on 16 March 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Not long after making their four-year contract with three-time Pro Bowl free safety Eric Weddle official, the Ravens addressed a crowded safety picture by releasing Will Hill.

The news came as a surprise to many fans before ESPN reported a couple hours later that Hill had been suspended 10 games for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

Hill had three drug-related suspensions in his first three seasons in the NFL — two related to marijuana — and had other off-field problems in the past. The Ravens signed Hill in the summer of 2014 when he had already been suspended for the first six games of that season and subsequently released by the New York Giants, but he had managed to stay out of trouble — at least publicly — since then.

With his latest ban, Hill will now have been suspended for 24 games in his first five NFL seasons.

Regarded by many as Baltimore’s best safety in 2015, Hill saw his playing time decrease when veteran Lardarius Webb moved from cornerback to safety in mid-December. The 26-year-old did not start the final two games of the season and played just 49 of the Ravens’ 122 defensive snaps over that time.

Hill finished 17th among qualified safeties in Pro Football Focus’ grading system, but the publication noted that he graded 70th over the final nine weeks of the 2015 season when he appeared to begin falling out of favor. Like many members of the secondary, Hill had his share of communication breakdowns and blown coverages that were often overshadowed by his hard-hitting style of play in 2015.

He was originally set to make $2.84 million in base salary for the 2016 season, which means that money is now cleared from the 2016 salary cap.

After signing a two-year, $7 million contract last summer, Hill started 14 of 16 games and collected 64 tackles, one interception, one sack, and six pass breakups while also leading the team in penalties. His 64-yard return for a touchdown off a blocked field goal was the game-winning play in the Week 12 Monday night victory at Cleveland.

Despite being scheduled to carry a $9.5 million cap number for the coming season, Webb has repeatedly been endorsed by both general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh as a starting-caliber safety this offseason. At Weddle’s introductory press conference on Wednesday, Harbaugh indicated that Webb would start next to the former San Diego Charger.

On paper, the 6-foot-1, 228-pound Hill may have been the better fit as a strong safety complementing the undersized Weddle, but the Ravens plan to use Weddle and Webb interchangeably and want more versatility and play-making ability from their safeties.

“You can bring both of these guys down and they can blitz and bring it really effectively,” Harbaugh said. “You’re not going to know who is down and who is deep, and that can be a big benefit for our defense.”

Behind Weddle and Webb on the projected safety depth chart are Kendrick Lewis, Matt Elam, Terrence Brooks, and Anthony Levine. Reserve safety and special-teams player Brynden Trawick agreed to a deal with the Oakland Raiders on Wednesday after the Ravens elected not to tender the restricted free agent earlier this month.

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wallace

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Ravens add much-needed diversity to passing game

Posted on 15 March 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Asked in early January whether the Ravens needed more speed in the passing game, Joe Flacco answered carefully while making his stance clear.

“I don’t know if it’s something that it needs, but you see what speed does,” the veteran quarterback said. “It does a lot for football teams. You see what the Steelers are doing with the speed that they’ve added over the last couple years. It definitely makes a difference out there.”

The Ravens took a step to copy Pittsburgh’s formula on Tuesday by signing former Steelers receiver Mike Wallace to a two-year deal worth a reported $11.5 million.

Not only does the union provide the Ravens another vertical threat to pair with 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman, but it provides Wallace the chance to get his career back on track after setting new lows in receiving yards (473) and touchdowns (two) last year. Playing the last three seasons with quarterbacks in Miami’s Ryan Tannehill and Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater who aren’t known for their arm strength, the 29-year-old sees the strong-armed Flacco as the perfect passer for his skill set.

“I always loved his deep ball ever since I was in Pittsburgh watching Torrey [Smith] catch them,” Wallace said. “I was like, ‘Man, this guy gets like eight of them in a row!’ I need me some of that.”

After Perriman missed his entire rookie season due to a right knee injury suffered on the first day of training camp, the Ravens can hardly afford a repeat of 2015 when they lacked a speed receiver to stretch the field and create more space for Steve Smith and Kamar Aiken on short-to-intermediate routes. Baltimore finished eighth in passing offense, but the unit ranked 30th in yards per attempt (6.6), reflecting its inability to push the ball down the field.

Now, the Ravens hope the addition of Wallace and Perriman’s healthy return will bring more diversity to the passing game and better utilize Flacco’s strengths.

Head coach John Harbaugh is excited about the potential of his top four receivers and how it might impact opponents’ preparation for his offense.

“It’s going to cause people some problems,” Harbaugh said. “You have some considerations back there on defense. If you’re going to put your defense over one guy or another guy and leave some pretty talented guys open on the other side, that’s going to create some problems for defenses.”

The Ravens may lack a true No. 1 option with Steve Smith turning 37 and coming back from a torn Achilles tendon, but Wallace doesn’t need to be a 1,200-yard receiver for the Baltimore passing game to thrive in 2016. The key is having wideouts who bring different skills to the table, whether you’re factoring in Steve Smith’s toughness and experience, Aiken’s reliable hands, or the high-end speed of Wallace and Perriman.

On paper, it could be the most talented group of pass-catchers the Ravens have had since the 2012 season that culminated with a win in Super Bowl XLVII, and it should fulfill Flacco’s desire to have more speed on the outside.

Both Baltimore and Wallace hope their partnership will be the right fit. The Ravens need to replace the big-play ability they were missing after Torrey Smith’s free-agent departure, and last year showed that they couldn’t count solely on the unproven Perriman to do it when he has yet to complete as much as a full-contact practice in the NFL. Wallace is out to prove he’s still capable of being the playmaker he was with Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh and isn’t just the guy who signed a mega contract with the Dolphins three offseasons ago and was all but forgotten in the Vikings offense last year.

“I’ll show everybody. I’ve been taking a lot of heat for about three years in a row,” Wallace said. “We’ll see about that though. I promise I’ll get the last laugh. Hopefully we can get where we want to get, and that’s to the championship.”

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Webb

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What’s next at safety after Ravens bring on Weddle?

Posted on 15 March 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens already had a crowded safety group before agreeing to a four-year deal with three-time Pro Bowl selection Eric Weddle on Monday.

The 31-year-old should bring the stability, high-impact play, and leadership that the Ravens have lacked at the position since the days of Ed Reed, but what Weddle’s arrival means for the other safeties on the roster remains to be seen. There was already a prevailing thought that the organization would part ways with at least one safety from a group that includes Lardarius Webb, Will Hill, Kendrick Lewis, and Matt Elam, and the arrival of the longtime San Diego Charger would appear to make that a certainty.

But who would be the likeliest candidate to go?

The Ravens would save $3.5 million in salary cap space by cutting Webb, who only converted from cornerback to safety late last season and is scheduled to carry a $9.5 million cap figure for the 2016 season. However, general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh have both talked up the veteran’s potential at his new position and have spoken with conviction about him being a starter. Of course, that all came before the Ravens gave $13 million in guaranteed money to their new safety, and Weddle and Webb would be a smaller duo compared to most safety tandems around the league.

It’s worth noting that a pre-June 1 release of Webb would leave $6 million in dead money, but a post-June 1 designation would leave his heavy commitment on the salary cap until most offseason activity has already concluded.

Releasing Hill would save $3 million in cap space, but he was the NFL’s 17th-highest-graded safety in Pro Football Focus’ rankings and his 6-foot-1, 228-pound frame would appear to be the perfect complement to the undersized Weddle (5-foot-11 and 200 pounds). The Ravens love having interchangeable safeties capable of playing the free or strong spot, and the combination of Weddle and Hill would appear to fit that vision perfectly.

There wouldn’t appear to be much use for Lewis in the base defense anymore, but releasing him would save just $933,000, which is very little when you account for the player taking his place in the “Rule of 51” list that counts against the salary cap. He would appear to be a reasonable backup option with just a $1.867 million cap figure for 2016.

Elam might be the most interesting name as the Ravens have never given up on a first-round pick prior to the conclusion of his rookie deal, but he carries a $2.14 million cap figure for 2016 and his release would save $1.33 million in space. Coaches said last summer that the University of Florida product had a strong offseason prior to tearing his biceps in training camp, but Elam didn’t show enough in his first two seasons to make you believe he’s a long-term fit.

The Ravens aren’t in a position where they need to make a decision immediately as Weddle’s signing leaves them with roughly $8 million in cap space for 2016, but this position group has become too crowded and too expensive to not make an adjustment as the offseason progresses.

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monroe

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Ravens’ Monroe continues speaking in support of medical marijuana research

Posted on 15 March 2016 by Luke Jones

A week after encouraging the NFL to research the benefits of medical marijuana in an interview with CNN, Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe discussed the topic at length using his official Twitter account on Tuesday morning.

Citing Monday’s admission from NFL executive vice president of health and safety Jeff Miller that there is a link between playing football and developing degenerative brain disorders, Monroe wrote about the need for research to determine whether marijuana can “curb traumatic brain injury” and called for fellow players to “stand up” for this issue and provide funding. The 28-year-old says he is not advocating using the drug for recreational purposes.

“It’s a shame that Roger Goodell would tell [our] fans there’s no medical vs. recreational distinction,” Monroe wrote. “If I’m a fan, I’m pissed at the time I wasted listening to Goodell lie to me at the Super Bowl. As a player, I sure am. Let’s do some research.”

Monroe suffered a concussion on the Ravens’ first offensive series of the 2015 regular season and did not return until Week 5. Because of an assortment of injuries, he has started just 16 games since signing a five-year, $37.5 million contract before the 2014 season.

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weddle

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Ravens agree to deal with three-time Pro Bowl safety Weddle

Posted on 14 March 2016 by Luke Jones

After failing to fill the void of future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed over the last three seasons, the Ravens finally decided to spend for a three-time Pro Bowl selection.

Baltimore agreed to a four-year deal with longtime San Diego Chargers free safety Eric Weddle and will pay the 31-year-old a total of $9 million in 2016, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The deal is worth up to $29 million.

He will arrive in Baltimore on Wednesday to take his physical and sign his contract.

Weddle had spent his first nine NFL seasons with the Chargers after being selected in the second round of the 2007 draft out of Utah. He has 19 career interceptions and will ideally bring strong pass coverage to the back end of the secondary, a place where the Ravens have struggled since Reed’s departure after the 2012 season.

Though he missed three games with a groin issue in his final season with San Diego, Weddle has missed only seven contests in his nine-year career and has been a full-time starter since 2008. In 137 career games, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound safety has collected 850 tackles, 6 1/2 sacks, 71 pass breakups, five forced fumbles, and three defensive touchdowns.

In 2015, Weddle did not record an interception for the first time in his career, but he had 78 tackles, 1/2 sack, and six pass breakups. Pro Football Focus graded his pass coverage second in the NFL among qualified safeties in 2015.

Weddle reportedly had also been considering Dallas, Oakland, and Pittsburgh as a potential destination.

Since parting ways with Reed, the Ravens have pumped substantial resources into the safety position with disappointing results. Baltimore drafted Matt Elam in the first round of the 2013 draft and Terrence Brooks in the third round of the 2014 draft, but neither has established himself as a long-term solution. Veteran free agents also failed to nail down the job as Michael Huff, Darian Stewart, and Kendrick Lewis were all signed in recent years.

As of Monday afternoon, it remained unclear what the Ravens would do with their surplus of safeties that also includes starting strong safety Will Hill and converted cornerback Lardarius Webb. General manager Ozzie Newsome has said repeatedly this offseason that the organization views Webb as a starting safety despite a very high $9.5 million salary cap figure for the 2016 season.

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DeForest Buckner

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Baltimore Ravens 2016 Mock Draft by Dennis Koulatsos

Posted on 13 March 2016 by Dennis Koulatsos

 

 

DeForest Buckner

When the Baltimore Ravens are on the clock in this year’s 2016 NFL Draft, GM Ozzie Newsome and his scouting department will be under tremendous pressure to select players that can come in and contribute right away.  With the Ravens missing the playoffs 2 out of the last 3 years, and sporting just a 23-25 regular season record since their Super Bowl victory over the 49ers, owner Steve Bisciotti has to be running out of patience.

Along with the Ravens faithful fan base, he has watched an unusually high number of draft picks play way below their draft grade/position.  Players such as Sergio Kindle, Terrence Cody, Matt Elam, and Arthur Brown quickly come to mind. Even last year’s top draft pick WR Breshad Perriman has yet to see field action in an NFL game.  In fairness to Perriman he did suffer a knee injury in training camp, but the bottom line is that has not been able to contribute, and even more disturbing is that the team has been awfully quiet in regards to how well his recovery is progressing.

The Ravens cleared up a bunch of cap space by releasing several players (Daryl Smith, Chris Canty) and restructuring the contracts of others (Marshal Yanda, Jimmy Smith).  They are currently $12.5 million under the cap, and are in talks with players such as WR Mike Wallace.  No doubt Ozzie Newsome will also fill some holes after the June 1 cuts.

With the signing of Shareece Wright to a new deal, I don’t think that CB is the Ravens top priority.  Putting pressure on the QB is still the best way for a team to improve their pass defense, which is why I think DeForest Buckner, the 6’7″ 290 pound DE from Oregon makes sense for the Ravens with the 6th pick in the first round.  He is a capable replacement for Chris Canty, and he is built like an AFC North defensive end.  If he is gone by the time it’s the Ravens’ turn to pick, Ohio State’s Joey Bosa would be a solid option.  Bosa plays the run better than Buckner, but does not get after the QB as well.  Buckner is also a better fit with the Ravens from a scheme-fit standpoint.

Hopefully the rookie QBs will shake-up this year’s draft and make the Ravens an attractive trade partner. It would be great to see the team trade back – even one spot to the QB needy 49ers – and pick up another 2nd round draft pick.  That would present the ideal, best case scenario. But if the board holds true and there are no trades, here are 9 players that could be Ravens at the conclusion of the draft:

First round: No. 6 -DeForest Buckner, DE Oregon

Second round: No. 36 – William Jackson III, CB Houston 

Third round: No. 70 – Le’Raven Clark, OT Texas Tech

Fourth round: No. 101 – Tyler Matakevich, ILB Temple

 No. 127 – Spencer Drago, OG Baylor

No. 132 – Harlan Miller, CB NE Louisiana

No. 134 – Malcom Mitchell, WR Georgia

Fifth round: None (swapped picks with Denver in Gradkowski trade)

Sixth round: No. 182 – Justin Simmons, FS Boston College

No. 209 – Yannick Ngakoue, OLB Maryland

Seventh round: None (traded to Miami for cornerback Will Davis)

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wallace

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Free-agent receiver Wallace reportedly set to visit Ravens

Posted on 12 March 2016 by Luke Jones

Looking to add more speed to their passing game, the Ravens continue to look at free-agent wide receiver Mike Wallace.

According to Sports Illustrated, the 29-year-old will visit the Ravens on Monday and remains an option at the right price. Wallace was cut by the Minnesota Vikings last week after the worst season of his seven-year career in which he caught just 39 passes for 473 yards and two touchdowns.

Since leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers after the 2012 season, Wallace hasn’t been the same receiver who posted back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons in 2010 and 2011, but he’s also played with quarterbacks in Miami’s Ryan Tannehill and Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater who lacked the arm strength to take full advantage of his speed. That wouldn’t figure to be an issue playing with the strong-armed Joe Flacco, who acknowledged at the end of last season that he wouldn’t mind seeing the Ravens copy Pittsburgh’s approach of having multiple vertical threats.

The Ravens would like to add another speed receiver to go along with 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman, who missed his entire rookie season with a partially-torn posterior cruicate ligament in his right knee. Perriman had yet to be fully cleared as of last month, and the Ravens cannot afford to put all hope for their vertical passing game in a receiver who has yet to complete a full-contact practice at the NFL level.

According to CBS Sports, Baltimore is also interested in three-time Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle, who had spent his entire career with the San Diego Chargers before becoming an unrestricted free agent last week.

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perriman

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2016 draft order finalized for Ravens

Posted on 12 March 2016 by Luke Jones

With the NFL announcing compensatory picks on Friday, the order has been finalized for the 2016 draft beginning on April 28 in Chicago.

The Ravens will have a total of nine picks with seven coming in the first four rounds. Their three compensatory picks — two in the fourth and one in the sixth — may not be traded.

Below is a look at where the Ravens are scheduled to pick:

Round 1: sixth overall
Round 2: 36th overall
Round 3: 70th overall
Round 4: 104th overall
Round 4: 130th overall (from Denver)
Round 4: 132nd overall (compensatory)
Round 4: 134th overall (compensatory)
Round 6: 182nd overall
Round 6: 209th overall (compensatory)

Just for fun, here’s a look at past players selected by the Ravens at each of those slots (or as close as possible) over the years:

sixth overall: RB Jamal Lewis (fifth), 2000
36th overall: LB Courtney Upshaw (35th), 2012
70th overall: TE Ed Dickson, 2010
104th overall: WR Brandon Stokley (105th), 1999
130th overall: FB Kyle Juszczyk, 2013
132nd overall: RB P.J. Daniels, 2006
134th overall: C Jeff Mitchell, 1997
182nd overall: S Gerome Sapp, 2003
209th overall: S Chad Williams, 2002

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