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Eisenberg: Ravens Are Drama-Free, Unlike Last Year

Posted Jul 2, 2013

The quiet in Baltimore is blissful when compared to the commotion that surrounded the team last offseason.


If I'm allotted just one word to describe the current state of affairs in Ravenstown, I'm going with … quiet.

Give me two words and I'll double down with … very quiet.

Contract stuff, mouth-off stuff, franchise-tag stuff, police blotter stuff: the Ravens aren't dealing with any of the offseason issues that typically dog NFL teams.

Maybe it's partly because they ended last season with a confetti shower, hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy over their heads in the Superdome. It's hard to gin up too much trouble from a conclusion so rare and satisfying.

Maybe it's partly the byproduct of handling their business adroitly, leaving few loose ends.

Maybe a little luck gets thrown in.

But whatever factors are involved, the end result is a backdrop that is resoundingly quiet as training camp approaches – and not eerily so, more satisfyingly so.

That was certainly not the case a year ago, as the Ravens approached camp in the aftermath of their galling loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC title game. Remember all the stuff that was going on?

The Ray Rice franchise-tag saga was raging, with Rice quite possibly looking at a year of being tagged before venturing into unrestricted free agency. Joe Flacco's contract status also was unsettled, as he was entering the final year of his rookie deal.

Oh, and there was much, much more. Terrell Suggs, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, was out indefinitely after tearing an Achilles during an April workout. Ed Reed's future and/or state of mind were as unclear as ever, as he had skipped the team's June mandatory minicamp and tossed a few salvos at the front office. Bryant McKinnie, the starting left tackle, had seldom been seen during the offseason, raising doubts about his level of conditioning. Cundiff, thought to be solid, was coming off an epic miss.

And of course, the most pointed talking point involved the entire team, as four years of playoff near-misses had some wondering about the Ravens' ability to go all the way.

A year later, that litany of offseason noise has been utterly, entirely and authoritatively shushed.

Flacco and Rice have signed long-term deals, securing their futures in Baltimore. Suggs showed up for the team's mandatory minicamp last month in fighting shape, seemingly intent on shelving memories of his injury-plagued 2012. Reed signed with the Houston Texans so now they have to deal with the uncertainty he always seems to generate, this time in the wake of hip surgery. McKinnie was on hand throughout the offseason and looks to be in excellent shape.

And all that ominous chatter about not being able to go all the way is someone else's talking point now.

If you want drama, there's plenty on boil around the NFL. But there's no drama in Baltimore. Whatever the opposite of a drama queen is, that's the Ravens these days in the wake of their Super Bowl victory.

Oh, sure, the front office has undertaken a surprisingly bold reconfiguring of the roster, putting its neck on the line to some degree. But while some of the moves can be second-guessed and there's no telling how it will all play out, getting younger, faster and cheaper in places is really just a sound operating principle. Most of the league understands exactly what the Ravens did and why.

And you can be sure the national talking heads will cite the budding "drama" of seeing how the team replaces icons Reed and Ray Lewis. But it's a non-issue internally. No one is losing sleep over it.

By my calculations, the Ravens' biggest ongoing drama involves (drum roll, please) who will win the No. 2 wide receiver battle … a big deal, certainly, but not exactly a scandalous sensation.

The calmness of this moment will ebb, of course, as it inevitably does when a team wades into a long season of twists and turns. But there's nothing wrong with entering the fray with a clear head and no apparent peril dangling overhead.

As Mel Brooks once said, it's good to be the king.

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